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Chapter ‎18   Unsafe code

16. Exceptions

Exceptions in C# provide a structured, uniform, and type-safe way of handling both system level and application level error conditions. The exception mechanism in C# is quite similar to that of C++, with a few important differences:

In C#, all exceptions must be represented by an instance of a class type derived from System.Exception. In C++, any value of any type can be used to represent an exception.

In C#, a finally block (§‎8.10) can be used to write termination code that executes in both normal execution and exceptional conditions. Such code is difficult to write in C++ without duplicating code.

In C#, system-level exceptions such as overflow, divide-by-zero, and null dereferences have well defined exception classes and are on a par with application-level error conditions.

16.1 Causes of exceptions

Exception can be thrown in two different ways.

A throw statement (§‎8.9.5) throws an exception immediately and unconditionally. Control never reaches the statement immediately following the throw.

Certain exceptional conditions that arise during the processing of C# statements and expression cause an exception in certain circumstances when the operation cannot be completed normally. For example, an integer division operation (§‎7.7.2) throws a System.DivideByZeroException if the denominator is zero. See §‎16.4 for a list of the various exceptions that can occur in this way.

16.2 The System.Exception class

The System.Exception class is the base type of all exceptions. This class has a few notable properties that all exceptions share:

Message is a read-only property of type string that contains a human-readable description of the reason for the exception.

InnerException is a read-only property of type Exception. If its value is non-null, it refers to the exception that caused the current exception—that is, the current exception was raised in a catch block handling the InnerException. Otherwise, its value is null, indicating that this exception was not caused by another exception. The number of exception objects chained together in this manner can be arbitrary.

The value of these properties can be specified in calls to the instance constructor for System.Exception.

16.3 How exceptions are handled

Exceptions are handled by a try statement (§‎8.10).

When an exception occurs, the system searches for the nearest catch clause that can handle the exception, as determined by the run-time type of the exception. First, the current method is searched for a lexically enclosing try statement, and the associated catch clauses of the try statement are considered in order. If that fails, the method that called the current method is searched for a lexically enclosing try statement that encloses the point of the call to the current method. This search continues until a catch clause is found that can handle the current exception, by naming an exception class that is of the same class, or a base class, of the run-time type of the exception being thrown. A catch clause that doesn’t name an exception class can handle any exception.

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