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Chapter ‎18   Unsafe code

When a property or indexer of a struct is the target of an assignment, the instance expression associated with the property or indexer access must be classified as a variable. If the instance expression is classified as a value, a compile-time error occurs. This is described in further detail in §‎7.13.1.

11.3.4 Default values

As described in §‎5.2, several kinds of variables are automatically initialized to their default value when they are created. For variables of class types and other reference types, this default value is null. However, since structs are value types that cannot be null, the default value of a struct is the value produced by setting all value type fields to their default value and all reference type fields to null.

Referring to the Point struct declared above, the example

Point[] a = new Point[100];

initializes each Point in the array to the value produced by setting the x and y fields to zero.

The default value of a struct corresponds to the value returned by the default constructor of the struct (§‎0). Unlike a class, a struct is not permitted to declare a parameterless instance constructor. Instead, every struct implicitly has a parameterless instance constructor which always returns the value that results from setting all value type fields to their default value and all reference type fields to null.

Structs should be designed to consider the default initialization state a valid state. In the example

using System;

struct KeyValuePair { string key; string value;

public KeyValuePair(string key, string value) { if (key == null || value == null) throw new ArgumentException(); this.key = key; this.value = value; } }

the user-defined instance constructor protects against null values only where it is explicitly called. In cases where a KeyValuePair variable is subject to default value initialization, the key and value fields will be null, and the struct must be prepared to handle this state.

11.3.5 Boxing and unboxing

A value of a class type can be converted to type object or to an interface type that is implemented by the class simply by treating the reference as another type at compile-time. Likewise, a value of type object or a value of an interface type can be converted back to a class type without changing the reference (but of course a run-time type check is required in this case).

Since structs are not reference types, these operations are implemented differently for struct types. When a value of a struct type is converted to type object or to an interface type that is implemented by the struct, a boxing operation takes place. Likewise, when a value of type object or a value of an interface type is converted back to a struct type, an unboxing operation takes place. A key difference from the same operations on class types is that boxing and unboxing copies the struct value either into or out of the boxed instance. Thus, following a boxing or unboxing operation, changes made to the unboxed struct are not reflected in the boxed struct.

For further details on boxing and unboxing, see §‎4.3.

11.3.6 Meaning of this

Copyright Microsoft Corporation 1999-2003. All Rights Reserved.263

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