Exception HandlingUnderstand Exceptions. Handle errors, use the try and catch keywords, and optimize exceptions.
This page was last reviewed on Dec 22, 2023.
Exceptions. In C# code an error can occur at almost any statement. Checking for all these errors is complex—exception handling separates this logic.
In exception handling, we have keywords like throw, try and catch. We use these in C# programs to handle errors gracefully. On errors, we can print messages, or return early.
An example. We can throw exceptions with a throw statement. But an exception is often thrown automatically by the runtime. An instruction may cause an invalid state.
Here We divide by zero. Sadly this results in a DivideByZeroException. This operation cannot be continued.
Detail We use the try and catch blocks to structure our error handling. This may lead to cleaner code.
using System; class Program { static void Main() { try { int value = 1 / int.Parse("0"); Console.WriteLine(value); } catch (Exception ex) { Console.WriteLine(ex.Message); } } }
Attempted to divide by zero.
Properties. We next use the Exception type's properties. This program creates an exception by dividing by zero. Then it catches and displays the exception.
Info HelpLink is empty because it was not defined on the exception. This is a string property.
Next Message is a short description of the exception's cause. This is a read-only string property.
Detail Source is the application name. This is a string property that can be assigned to or read from.
Detail StackTrace is the path through the compiled program's method hierarchy that the exception was generated from.
Finally TargetSite is the name of the method where the error occurred. This property helps simplify what part of the errors are recorded.
using System; class Program { static void Main() { try { int value = 1 / int.Parse("0"); } catch (Exception ex) { Console.WriteLine("HelpLink = {0}", ex.HelpLink); Console.WriteLine("Message = {0}", ex.Message); Console.WriteLine("Source = {0}", ex.Source); Console.WriteLine("StackTrace = {0}", ex.StackTrace); Console.WriteLine("TargetSite = {0}", ex.TargetSite); } } }
HelpLink = Message = Attempted to divide by zero. Source = ConsoleApplication1 StackTrace = at Program.Main() in C:\...\Program.cs:line 9 TargetSite = Void Main()
Data. It is possible to store structured data on an exception that is thrown in one part of your program, and then later read in this data. With Data we store associate keys and values.
Here In this example, we use a try construct. In the try block, a new exception is allocated. Next we assign to the Data property.
Tip Data can be used as a Hashtable or Dictionary. The keys and values are represented by the object type.
Finally The exception instance is thrown. And in the catch block we display the Data contents.
using System; using System.Collections; class Program { static void Main() { try { // Create new exception. var ex = new DivideByZeroException("Message"); // Set the data dictionary. ex.Data["Time"] = DateTime.Now; ex.Data["Flag"] = true; // Throw it. throw ex; } catch (Exception ex) { // Display the exception's data dictionary. foreach (DictionaryEntry pair in ex.Data) { Console.WriteLine("{0} = {1}", pair.Key, pair.Value); } } } }
Time = 12/9/2014 5:38:22 PM Flag = True
Custom. In C# programs we can access many built-in exceptions. But this may not be enough—we may want even more exceptions. We solve this need with custom exceptions.
Tip To make one, create a class. Have it derive from Exception—the class is the base class for all exceptions.
Detail You can add a public override string property, Message, to specify the string displayed by the Exception.
using System; class TestException : Exception { public override string Message { get { return "This exception means something bad happened"; } } } class Program { static void Main() { try { throw new TestException(); } catch (TestException ex) { Console.WriteLine(ex); } } }
TestException: This exception means something bad happened at Program.Main()....
Tester-doer. We can use the Tester-Doer pattern. This refers to functions that do not throw exceptions on errors. Instead, they return an error code and take no action.
Tip This pattern improves the performance of certain important functions by avoiding exception handling.
Further You can use the tester-doer pattern in your own function designs. It yields similar benefits.
Detail The Tester-Doer pattern is a clear performance win over exceptions in almost all situations.
using System; class Program { static void Main() { // This is not valid! string value = "abc"; int result; if (int.TryParse(value, out result)) // Tester-doer method. { // Not reached. // ... Result would have the valid parsed result. Console.WriteLine(result); } } }
Benchmark, exceptions. Are exceptions fast? Here we see a method that carefully tests for null (and thus does not need exception handling) and a method that uses try and catch.
Version 1 This version of the code handles errors by testing against the null literal in an if-statement.
Version 2 Here we use try-catch to handle errors. We throw an exception if the argument array is null.
Result The try-catch block has a negative effect on performance. If the array is null, performance would be even worse.
using System; using System.Diagnostics; class Program { static int GetA(int[] arr) { if (arr != null) // Check for null. { return arr[0]; } else { return 0; } } static int GetB(int[] arr) { try { return arr[0]; } catch // Catch exceptions. { return 0; } } const int _max = 1000000; static void Main() { int[] arr = new int[] { 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 }; int count = 0; var s1 = Stopwatch.StartNew(); // Version 1: use if-statement to handle errors. for (int i = 0; i < _max; i++) { int v = GetA(arr); if (v == 5) { count++; } } s1.Stop(); var s2 = Stopwatch.StartNew(); // Version 2: use try-catch to handle errors. for (int i = 0; i < _max; i++) { int v = GetB(arr); if (v == 5) { count++; } } s2.Stop(); Console.WriteLine(((double)(s1.Elapsed.TotalMilliseconds * 1000000) / _max).ToString("0.00 ns")); Console.WriteLine(((double)(s2.Elapsed.TotalMilliseconds * 1000000) / _max).ToString("0.00 ns")); } }
1.95 ns: GetA, if check 3.91 ns: GetB, try-catch
Optimization, exceptions. Exception handling can be made faster. If we have an exception handling construct (try-catch) in an inner loop, we could hoist it to the outside of the loop.
Version 1 Here the try-catch block is inside the inner loop. So we enter the protected region on each loop iteration.
Version 2 The try-catch block is outside the loop. The logic is different—if an exception is thrown, the entire loop terminates.
Result In .NET 5 for Linux (2021) version 2 is faster—hoisting exception handling outside a loop helps.
using System; using System.Diagnostics; class Program { const int _max = 1000000; static void Main() { var s1 = Stopwatch.StartNew(); // Version 1: try-catch inside loop. for (int i = 0; i < _max; i++) { Method1(); } s1.Stop(); var s2 = Stopwatch.StartNew(); // Version 2: try-catch outside loop. for (int i = 0; i < _max; i++) { Method2(); } s2.Stop(); Console.WriteLine(((double)(s1.Elapsed.TotalMilliseconds * 1000 * 1000) / _max).ToString("0.00 ns")); Console.WriteLine(((double)(s2.Elapsed.TotalMilliseconds * 1000 * 1000) / _max).ToString("0.00 ns")); } static void Method1() { for (int i = 0; i < 1000; i++) { try { int value = i * 100; if (value == -1) { throw new Exception(); } } catch { } } } static void Method2() { try { for (int i = 0; i < 1000; i++) { int value = i * 100; if (value == -1) { throw new Exception(); } } } catch { } } }
1870.76 ns: Method1 359.79 ns: Method2
Finally. Suppose we have some logic that must run on each invocation of a method. It does not matter if an error was encountered—the logic must be run. We can use "finally."
Checked. The checked and unchecked contexts specify whether exceptions occur when a value type overflows. These are operators. They are uncommonly used.
MemoryFailPoint. Most programs will not need to use MemoryFailPoint. But this type can help us deal without-of-memory situations.
Summary. With Exception types, we describe errors. And with their properties, we access information about errors. Exceptions help contain complexity.
Dot Net Perls is a collection of tested code examples. Pages are continually updated to stay current, with code correctness a top priority.
Sam Allen is passionate about computer languages. In the past, his work has been recommended by Apple and Microsoft and he has studied computers at a selective university in the United States.
This page was last updated on Dec 22, 2023 (simplify).
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