Creating an Empty List<AnonymousType>

This post is written by guest blogger Albin Sunnanbo. He’s a great friend and source of inspiration and also one of the best developers I know. It was Albin that first introduced me to LINQ, EF Migrations and jQuery that I now use daily.

Sometimes you use Tuple<T1, T2> in C# to store results of temporary calculations, like in the following example:

var testDataValues = new int[] { 0, 1, 2 };
var okResults = new List<int>();
var failedArgumentsWithError = new List<Tuple<int, string>>();
foreach (var value in testDataValues)
        var result = CalculateResult(value);
    catch (Exception ex)
        failedArgumentsWithError.Add(Tuple.Create(value, ex.Message));
foreach (var failedArgumentWithError in failedArgumentsWithError)
    Console.WriteLine(failedArgumentWithError.Item1 + " failed with error: " +

The Tuple<T1, T2> however is not really good for readability, the naming of Item1, Item2, etc. does not reveal the intention of the properties. When storing temporary results like this in a method there is usually better to use an anonymous type. However to declare a list of an anonymous type you need to use a little trick with yield break.

Null Handling with Extension Methods

Often we cannot be sure if a parameter passed in to a function has a value. To write error safe code all those parameters have to be checked for null and handled. We have the ?? coalesce operator to help, but still it can be quite a lot of code. Through the use of extension methods a lot of cases can be handled. As extension methods are in reality static methods of another class, they work even if the reference is null. This can be utilized to write utility methods for various cases. In this post I’ll show two cases, one is an extension that returns a default value for an XML attribute value if the attribute or even the element is missing. The other one handles the common case when a null sequence reference passed should be handled as an empty sequence.

Return IEnumerable with yield return

Ever needed to return an IEnumerable<T> from a method? Did you create a List<T> instance that you populated and returned? There is a better way, with less memory footprint and better performance.

The yield return statement is one of the more mysterious, yet very useful constructs in C#. With yield return it is possible to return an IEnumerable<T> without creating a collection of any sort (no array, no list, no anything):

public static IEnumerable<int> Numbers(int max)
    for(int i = 0; i < max; i++) 
        yield return i;

yield return adds one item to the returned IEnumerable<T> each time it is called, but it does not end the function as a normal return would. The function ends when flow of control reaches the end of the function body.

Using yield return makes the code shorter than creating and populating e.g. a list, but that’s only part of the strength. The real power lies in the lazy evaluation.

Software Development is a Job – Coding is a Passion

I'm Anders Abel, an independent systems architect and developer in Stockholm, Sweden.

profile for Anders Abel at Stack Overflow, Q&A for professional and enthusiast programmers

Code for most posts is available on my GitHub account.

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