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Chapter ‎18   Unsafe code Using static readonly fields for constants

A static readonly field is useful when a symbolic name for a constant value is desired, but when the type of the value is not permitted in a const declaration, or when the value cannot be computed at compile-time. In the example

public class Color { public static readonly Color Black = new Color(0, 0, 0); public static readonly Color White = new Color(255, 255, 255); public static readonly Color Red = new Color(255, 0, 0); public static readonly Color Green = new Color(0, 255, 0); public static readonly Color Blue = new Color(0, 0, 255);

private byte red, green, blue;

public Color(byte r, byte g, byte b) { red = r; green = g; blue = b; } }

the Black, White, Red, Green, and Blue members cannot be declared as const members because their values cannot be computed at compile-time. However, declaring them static readonly instead has much the same effect. Versioning of constants and static readonly fields

Constants and readonly fields have different binary versioning semantics. When an expression references a constant, the value of the constant is obtained at compile-time, but when an expression references a readonly field, the value of the field is not obtained until run-time. Consider an application that consists of two separate programs:

using System;

namespace Program1 { public class Utils { public static readonly int X = 1; } }

namespace Program2 { class Test { static void Main() { Console.WriteLine(Program1.Utils.X); } } }

The Program1 and Program2 namespaces denote two programs that are compiled separately. Because Program1.Utils.X is declared as a static readonly field, the value output by the Console.WriteLine statement is not known at compile-time, but rather is obtained at run-time. Thus, if the value of X is changed and Program1 is recompiled, the Console.WriteLine statement will output the new value even if Program2 isn’t recompiled. However, had X been a constant, the value of X would have been obtained at the time Program2 was compiled, and would remain unaffected by changes in Program1 until Program2 is recompiled.

Copyright Microsoft Corporation 1999-2003. All Rights Reserved.211

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