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VB.NET Select Case Examples

Use the Select Case statement with integers, Chars and Strings. See a nested Select Case.
Select Case. In branches, in selection statements, programs change course. Select Case rapidly matches values. In it, we specify a set of constants (Integers, Chars, Strings).
Matching. Select Case evaluates an expression and goes to the matching clause. Cases do not fall through, and no "exit" statement is required. But we can stack cases that share statements.
First example. To create a Select Case statement, type Select and press tab. Then, edit the variable name. We read a line from the Console, call Integer.Parse on it, and then use Select.

Else: Case Else is the default case. When no other values match, this case is reached.

VB.NET program that uses Select Case Module Module1 Sub Main() Dim value As Integer = Integer.Parse(Console.ReadLine()) Select Case value Case 1 Console.WriteLine("You typed one") Case 2 Console.WriteLine("You typed two") Case 5 Console.WriteLine("You typed five") Case Else Console.WriteLine("You typed something else") End Select End Sub End Module Output 2 You typed two
Nested. Sometimes a nested Select Case statement is useful. For example, we can test characters in a String, one after another, with nested Selects.

And: We can use this style of logic to optimize StartsWith or EndsWith calls. This is only needed on performance-critical code.

StartsWith, EndsWith

Chars: The example uses chars within a String as the Select Case expression. This is a common construct.

Char
VB.NET program that uses nested Select Case Module Module1 Sub Main() Dim value As String = "cat" ' Handle first letter. Select Case value(0) Case "c" ' Handle second letter. Select Case value(1) Case "a" Console.WriteLine("String starts with c, a") Case "o" ' Not reached: Console.WriteLine("String starts with c, o") End Select End Select End Sub End Module Output String starts with c, a
Strings. Select Case may be used on a String. With this statement we match a variable against a set of values such as String literals.

But: On Strings, Select Case offers no performance advantage as with Integers (or other values).

Strings

To start: Let's evaluate a program that reads an input from the Console. Then it uses the Select Case statement on that value.

Values: It matches against four possible values: "dot", "net", and "perls", and also all other values (Else).

VB.NET program that uses Select Case on String Module Module1 Sub Main() While True Dim value As String = Console.ReadLine() Select Case value Case "dot" Console.WriteLine("Word 1") Case "net" Console.WriteLine("Word 2") Case "perls" Console.WriteLine("Word 3") Case Else Console.WriteLine("Something else") End Select End While End Sub End Module Output dot Word 1 perls Word 3 test Something else
Variables. VB.NET allows variable cases. But we may lose optimizations with this syntax. Each case must be evaluated and cannot be stored in a lookup table.

Note: The "value" Integer is set to 10. And we match it against the variable y, which also equals 10, in a Select Case statement.

Integer

Note 2: An advanced compiler could analyze this program before execution so that no branches are evaluated at runtime.

VB.NET program that uses variable Cases Module Module1 Sub Main() Dim value As Integer = 10 Dim x As Integer = 5 Dim y As Integer = 10 ' Select with cases that are variables. Select Case value Case x ' Not reached. Console.WriteLine("Value equals x") Case y Console.WriteLine("Value equals y") End Select End Sub End Module Output Value equals y
Stacked cases. Multiple cases can be combined by specifying them one after another. In this example, both 99 and 100 will reach the same Console.WriteLine statement.

Important: Stacked cases must be specified on the same line. Separate "case" statements mean empty blocks of code, not a group of cases.

VB.NET program that uses stacked cases Module Module1 Sub Main() Dim value As Integer = Integer.Parse("99") Select Case value Case 99, 100 ' Both 99 and 100 will end up here. Console.WriteLine("99 or 100") Case 101 Console.WriteLine("Not reached") End Select End Sub End Module Output 99: 99 or 100 100: 99 or 100
Return. It is possible to return from a Function or Subroutine with a Return statement within a Select Case. This can reduce the lines of code required to express some logic.

IsValidNumber: This is a Boolean Function that returns True if the argument integer is valid, and False for all other numbers.

Case 100, 200: IsValidNumber considers the numbers 100 and 200 to be valid, but all other integers are not valid (according to its logic).

VB.NET program that returns from Select Case Module Module1 Function IsValidNumber(ByVal number As Integer) As Boolean ' Return from a Select Case statement in a Function. Select Case number Case 100, 200 Return True End Select ' Other numbers are False. Return False End Function Sub Main() Console.WriteLine("ISVALIDNUMBER: {0}", IsValidNumber(100)) Console.WriteLine("ISVALIDNUMBER: {0}", IsValidNumber(200)) Console.WriteLine("ISVALIDNUMBER: {0}", IsValidNumber(300)) End Sub End Module Output ISVALIDNUMBER: True ISVALIDNUMBER: True ISVALIDNUMBER: False
Duplicate cases. In VB.NET we can have duplicate case statements. Only the first matching case statement will be reached. No errors or warnings are encountered.

Note: Duplicate cases could mean an error in a program. It might be best to order cases from low to high to easily spot this issue.

VB.NET program that has duplicate case statements Module Module1 Sub Main() Dim value As Integer = 1 Select Case value Case 1 Console.WriteLine("FIRST CASE REACHED") Case 1 Console.WriteLine("SECOND CASE") End Select End Sub End Module Output FIRST CASE REACHED
Performance. With Integers, Select Case often is faster than an If-Statement. Consider this benchmark. It tests an If-ElseIf construct and an equivalent Select Case. The value equals 2.If Then

Result: The Select Case statement is faster. The results are the same for the constructs.

Thus: In many programs, Select Case is an optimization. But if we have one case that occurs most often, If may be faster—see the next test.

VB.NET program that times If Then, Select Case Module Module1 Sub Main() Dim m As Integer = 300000000 Dim value As Integer = 2 ' Version 1: Use If-Statement. Dim total As Integer = 0 Dim s1 As Stopwatch = Stopwatch.StartNew For i As Integer = 0 To m - 1 If value = 0 Then total -= 1 ElseIf value = 1 Then total -= 100 ElseIf value = 2 Then total += 1 End If Next s1.Stop() ' Version 2: Use Select Case. total = 0 Dim s2 As Stopwatch = Stopwatch.StartNew For i As Integer = 0 To m - 1 Select Case value Case 0 total -= 1 Case 1 total -= 100 Case 2 total += 1 End Select Next s2.Stop() Console.WriteLine((s1.Elapsed.TotalMilliseconds / 1000).ToString("0.00 s")) Console.WriteLine((s2.Elapsed.TotalMilliseconds / 1000).ToString("0.00 s")) End Sub End Module Output 1.47 s: If Then, value = 2 0.86 s: Select Case, value = 2
An experiment. I changed the benchmark to set the "value" Integer to 0, not 2. Now the first If-expression evaluates to true every time. Fewer branches are needed, and the If is faster.
Results 2 0.89 s: If Then, value = 0 1.14 s: Select Case, value = 0
A discussion. On values, Select Case is implemented with the switch opcode in the intermediate language. This is the same implementation as the switch keyword from the C# language.

Note: With this opcode, Select Case is faster (on certain programs and data) than an If-statement.

Performance, overview. Performance of Select Case is highly dependent on both the cases, and the data, in your program. We must use our reasoning ability to figure out the best solution.

And: If we have 1,000 cases, but one is most common, testing for the common one with an If-statement is fastest.

Performance, strings. On Strings, does Select Case ever compile into anything other than a series of comparisons? In my tests of various string counts, no Dictionary was used.

Thus: VB.NET seems to lack the String Dictionary optimization for C# string switch constructs.

And: If you have to match many string literals, building a Dictionary (and using TryGetValue might be faster.

Dictionary
Frequencies. If the frequency of cases is equally distributed, and the values are close together, a Select Case is better. The performance difference in most situations is small.

Often: It is the best approach to use whatever syntax form (if or switch) is clearest.

Credit: Thanks to Leen Boers for helping correct an error in one of the Select Case examples.

A summary. The Select Case statement optimizes selection from several constant cases. This special syntax form can be used to test a variable against several constant values.
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