Al Idian

Demystifying Events in C#

2019.01.14

In a previous post, I talked briefly about delegates as a way to reference one or more methods in C#. In this current post, I intend to demonstrate how events are used in practice, with delegates as the core underlying mechanism.

Diving into it

Have a look at the following code shown below. It describes similar functionality to the code snippet from Demystifying Delegates in C# — but this time using an event.

The EventPublisher class

Besides the standard Program class, the code has an EventPublisher class for something that publishes an event. In the highlighted line is something with the keyword event, which creates a C# event that references a delegate. The delegate we use in this case is EventHandler, a built-in C# delegate used to trigger events that do not need to pass any arguments to the methods ultimately invoked.

A similar built-in delegate class that allows argument passing is EventHandler<T>. Since EventHandler and EventHandler<T> are just delegates built into C#, one can easily choose to use a custom delegate instead.

In Main(), the method RaiseEvent() calls our delegate passing in some required standard parameters corresponding to (1) the sender and (2) another C#-specific built-in class EventArgs.

// Class that publishes an event
class EventPublisher
{
// Declare event (which references a delegate)
public event EventHandler OnRaiseEvent;

// Trigger the event
public virtual void RaiseEvent()
{
OnRaiseEvent?.Invoke(this, new EventArgs());
}
}

The Program class

Our Program class is very simple: It has two simplistic methods that print out “foo” and “bar” respectively and a Main function that serves as the starting point for out C# program.

The Main function instantiates an object from class EventPublisher. Then, just as in Demystifying Delegates in C#, it hooks up each of our two PrintToConsole- methods to our delegate. Finally, invoking RaiseEvent() causes each of our attached methods to also get invoked. The end result is that “foo” and “bar” are printed in the console.

// Starting point for the program
class Program
{
static void Main(string[] args)
{
// Instantiate the publisher and attach methods
EventPublisher publisher = new EventPublisher();
publisher.OnRaiseEvent += PrintToConsoleFoo;
publisher.OnRaiseEvent += PrintToConsoleBar;

// Trigger the event which calls each of the methods attached
publisher.RaiseEvent();
}

// Methods we attach to an event
static void PrintToConsoleFoo(object sender, EventArgs e)
{
Console.WriteLine("foo");
}

// Methods we attach to an event
static void PrintToConsoleBar(object sender, EventArgs e)
{
Console.WriteLine("bar");
}
}

Conclusion

In this post, I showed a simple but useful implementation of the events pattern in C# and described how delegates ultimately make this functionality possible. I intentionally kept my discussion of events and delegates brief to maximize its approachability; for a deeper dive, see the Microsoft C# Programming Guide.