On the abuse of properties

Raymond Chen


One thing that I see occasionally is the abuse of property syntax.
IDispatch and CLR objects (and C++ objects if you want to avail
yourself of

a Microsoft-specific extension
support “properties”, which syntactically look like fields
but internally are treated as a pair of methods (“get” and “put”).
An important principle is that given an object o
and a property p, the lines

o.p = o.p;

should be effectively nops.
(Mind you, they might be really inefficient nops.)

My favorite (or perhaps most hated) example of violating this
principle is an object I saw many years ago that had a “print”
property, which if set to true, caused the object to send itself
to the printer.
If you did

o.print = true;
o.print = true;

then two copies of the object were printed.

Property syntax mimics field syntax for a reason:
Properties should behave like fields.

(Plenty more guidance on properties can be found in the

.NET Framework Property Usage Guidelines

[While Raymond was on vacation,

the autopilot stopped working

due to

a power outage
This entry has been backdated.]


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