Jul2012
24

Viking Law #1

by nmgomes

Today, while reading this old post from Emil Gustafsson about the Viking Laws and how they can be projected into the software development context, I just can’t stop thinking that his first law interpretation is missing one of the most important, if not not the most important, commandment.

Law #1 is all about bravery and aggressivety, and according to Emil it can be projected into software development as:

  • Be direct
  • Grab all opportunities
  • Use varying methods of attack
  • Be versatile and agile
  • Attack one target at a time
  • Don’t plan everything in detail
  • Use top quality weapons

I totally agree with all these commandments but one is missing and I think it should be the first:

  • Choose your targets wisely

Never attack a target when you know you’re not enough skilled to win. Sometimes the greatest bravery you can show is to recognize you’re not ready.

Filed in: General

Jul2012
5

Enum types, FlagsAttribute & Zero value – Part 2

by nmgomes

In my previous post I wrote about why you should pay attention when using enum value Zero.

After reading that post you are probably thinking like Benjamin Roux: Why don’t you start the enum values at 0x1?

Well I could, but doing that I lose the ability to have Sync and Async mutually exclusive by design. Take a look at the following enum types:

[Flags]public enum OperationMode1{    Async = 0x1,    Sync = 0x2,    Parent = 0x4}[Flags]public enum OperationMode2{    Async = 0x0,    Sync = 0x1,    Parent = 0x2}

To achieve mutually exclusion between Sync and Async values using OperationMode1 you would have to operate both values:

protected void CheckMainOperarionMode(OperationMode1 mode){    switch (mode)    {        case (OperationMode1.Async | OperationMode1.Sync | OperationMode1.Parent):        case (OperationMode1.Async | OperationMode1.Sync):            throw new InvalidOperationException("Cannot be Sync and Async simultaneous");            break;        case (OperationMode1.Async | OperationMode1.Parent):        case (OperationMode1.Async):            break;        case (OperationMode1.Sync | OperationMode1.Parent):        case (OperationMode1.Sync):            break;        default:            throw new InvalidOperationException("No default mode specified");    }}

but this is a by design constraint in OperationMode2. Why? Simply because 0x0 is the neutral element for the bitwise OR operation.

Knowing this singularity, replacing and simplifying the previous method, you get:

protected void CheckMainOperarionMode(OperationMode2 mode){    switch (mode)    {        case (OperationMode2.Sync | OperationMode2.Parent):        case (OperationMode2.Sync):            break;        case (OperationMode2.Parent):        default:            break;    }

This means that:

  • if both Sync and Async values are specified Sync value always win (Zero is the neutral element for bitwise OR operation)
  • if no Sync value specified, the Async method is used.

Here is the final method implementation:

protected void CheckMainOperarionMode(OperationMode2 mode){    if (mode & OperationMode2.Sync == OperationMode2.Sync)    {    } else {     }}

All content above prove that Async value (0x0) is useless from the arithmetic perspective, but, without it we lose readability.

The following IF statements are logically equals but the first is definitely more readable:

if (OperationMode2.Async | OperationMode2.Parent){}if (OperationMode2.Parent){ }

Here’s another example where you can see the benefits of 0x0 value, the default value can be used explicitly.

    <my:Control runat="server" Mode="Async,Parent">    <my:Control runat="server" Mode="Parent">

Filed in: .NET | ASP.NET

Jul2012
4

Enum types, FlagsAttribute & Zero value

by nmgomes

We all know about Enums types and use them every single day. What is not that often used is to decorate the Enum type with the FlagsAttribute.

When an Enum type has the FlagsAttribute we can assign multiple values to it and thus combine multiple information into a single enum.

The enum values should be a power of two so that a bit set is achieved.

Here is a typical Enum type:

public enum OperationMode
{
    /// <summary>
    /// No operation mode
    /// </summary>
    None = 0,
    /// <summary>
    /// Standard operation mode
    /// </summary>
    Standard = 1,
    /// <summary>
    /// Accept bubble requests mode
    /// </summary>
    Parent = 2
}

In such scenario no values combination are possible. In the following scenario a default operation mode exists and combination is used:

[Flags]
public enum OperationMode
{
    /// <summary>
    /// Asynchronous operation mode
    /// </summary>
    Async = 0,
    /// <summary>
    /// Synchronous operation mode
    /// </summary>
    Sync = 1,
    /// <summary>
    /// Accept bubble requests mode
    /// </summary>
    Parent = 2
}

Now, it’s possible to do statements like:

[DefaultValue(OperationMode.Async)] [TypeConverter(typeof(EnumConverter))] public OperationMode Mode { get; set; } /// <summary> /// Gets a value indicating whether this instance supports request from childrens. /// </summary> public bool IsParent { get { return (this.Mode & OperationMode.Parent) == OperationMode.Parent; } }

or

switch (this.Mode) { case OperationMode.Sync | OperationMode.Parent: Console.WriteLine("Sync,Parent"); break;

[…]

 

But there is something that you should never forget: Zero is the absorber element for the bitwise AND operation.

So, checking for OperationMode.Async (the Zero value) mode just like the OperationMode.Parent mode makes no sense since it will always be true:

(this.Mode & 0x0) == 0x0

Instead, inverse logic should be used: OperationMode.Async = !OperationMode.Sync

public bool IsAsync
{
    get { return (this.Mode & ContentManagerOperationMode.Sync) != ContentManagerOperationMode.Sync; }
}

or

public bool IsAsync
{
    get { return (int)this.Mode == 0; }
}

[Begin: Edit]

Some readers suggested to use the Enum.HasFlag method. Although it’s another valid approach it’s also widely accepted that this method has some performance issues related an internal box/unboxing.

Use it when performance is not a problem (I see this method mostly used by rookie developers).

[End: Edit]

Final Note:

Benefits

Allow multiple values combination

The above samples snippets were taken from an ASP.NET control and enabled the following markup usage:

<my:Control runat="server" Mode="Sync,Parent">

Drawback

Zero value is the absorber element for the bitwise AND operation

Be very carefully when evaluating the Zero value, either evaluate the enum value as an integer or use inverse logic.

Filed in: ASP.NET | .NET