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2.4.2 Identifiers

Visual Studio .NET 2003

The rules for identifiers given in this section correspond exactly to those recommended by the Unicode Standard Annex 15, except that underscore is allowed as an initial character (as is traditional in the C programming language), Unicode escape sequences are permitted in identifiers, and the "@" character is allowed as a prefix to enable keywords to be used as identifiers.

identifier:
available-identifier
@   identifier-or-keyword
available-identifier:
An identifier-or-keyword that is not a keyword
identifier-or-keyword:
identifier-start-character   identifier-part-charactersopt
identifier-start-character:
letter-character
_ (the underscore character U+005F)
identifier-part-characters:
identifier-part-character
identifier-part-characters   identifier-part-character
identifier-part-character:
letter-character
decimal-digit-character
connecting-character
combining-character
formatting-character
letter-character:
A Unicode character of classes Lu, Ll, Lt, Lm, Lo, or Nl
A unicode-escape-sequence representing a character of classes Lu, Ll, Lt, Lm, Lo, or Nl
combining-character:
A Unicode character of classes Mn or Mc
A unicode-escape-sequence representing a character of classes Mn or Mc
decimal-digit-character:
A Unicode character of the class Nd
A unicode-escape-sequence representing a character of the class Nd
connecting-character:
A Unicode character of the class Pc
A unicode-escape-sequence representing a character of the class Pc
formatting-character:
A Unicode character of the class Cf
A unicode-escape-sequence representing a character of the class Cf

For information on the Unicode character classes mentioned above, see The Unicode Standard, Version 3.0, section 4.5.

Examples of valid identifiers include "identifier1", "_identifier2", and "@if".

An identifier in a conforming program must be in the canonical format defined by Unicode Normalization Form C, as defined by Unicode Standard Annex 15. The behavior when encountering an identifier not in Normalization Form C is implementation-defined; however, a diagnostic is not required.

The prefix "@" enables the use of keywords as identifiers, which is useful when interfacing with other programming languages. The character @ is not actually part of the identifier, so the identifier might be seen in other languages as a normal identifier, without the prefix. An identifier with an @ prefix is called a verbatim identifier. Use of the @ prefix for identifiers that are not keywords is permitted, but strongly discouraged as a matter of style.

The example:

class @class
{
   public static void @static(bool @bool) {
      if (@bool)
         System.Console.WriteLine("true");
      else
         System.Console.WriteLine("false");
   }   
}
class Class1
{
   static void M() {
      cl\u0061ss.st\u0061tic(true);
   }
}

defines a class named "class" with a static method named "static" that takes a parameter named "bool". Note that since Unicode escapes are not permitted in keywords, the token "cl\u0061ss" is an identifier, and is the same identifier as "@class".

Two identifiers are considered the same if they are identical after the following transformations are applied, in order:

  • The prefix "@", if used, is removed.
  • Each unicode-escape-sequence is transformed into its corresponding Unicode character.
  • Any formatting-characters are removed.

Identifiers containing two consecutive underscore characters (U+005F) are reserved for use by the implementation. For example, an implementation might provide extended keywords that begin with two underscores.

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