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IEnumerator Interface

Supports a simple iteration over a nongeneric collection.

Namespace:  System.Collections
Assembly:  mscorlib (in mscorlib.dll)

[ComVisibleAttribute(true)]
[GuidAttribute("496B0ABF-CDEE-11d3-88E8-00902754C43A")]
public interface IEnumerator

IEnumerator is the base interface for all nongeneric enumerators.

For the generic version of this interface see IEnumerator<T>.

The foreach statement of the C# language (for each in Visual Basic) hides the complexity of the enumerators. Therefore, using foreach is recommended instead of directly manipulating the enumerator.

Enumerators can be used to read the data in the collection, but they cannot be used to modify the underlying collection.

Initially, the enumerator is positioned before the first element in the collection. The Reset method also brings the enumerator back to this position. At this position, calling the Current property throws an exception. Therefore, you must call the MoveNext method to advance the enumerator to the first element of the collection before reading the value of Current.

Current returns the same object until either MoveNext or Reset is called. MoveNext sets Current to the next element.

If MoveNext passes the end of the collection, the enumerator is positioned after the last element in the collection and MoveNext returns false. When the enumerator is at this position, subsequent calls to MoveNext also return false. If the last call to MoveNext returned false, calling Current throws an exception. To set Current to the first element of the collection again, you can call Reset followed by MoveNext.

An enumerator remains valid as long as the collection remains unchanged. If changes are made to the collection, such as adding, modifying, or deleting elements, the enumerator is irrecoverably invalidated and the next call to MoveNext or Reset throws an InvalidOperationException. If the collection is modified between MoveNext and Current, Current returns the element that it is set to, even if the enumerator is already invalidated.

The enumerator does not have exclusive access to the collection; therefore, enumerating through a collection is intrinsically not a thread-safe procedure. Even when a collection is synchronized, other threads can still modify the collection, which causes the enumerator to throw an exception. To guarantee thread safety during enumeration, you can either lock the collection during the entire enumeration or catch the exceptions resulting from changes made by other threads.

The following code example demonstrates the implementation of the IEnumerable and IEnumerator interfaces for a custom collection. In this example, members of these interfaces are not explicitly called, but they are implemented to support the use of foreach (for each in Visual Basic) to iterate through the collection.

using System;
using System.Collections;

public class Person
{
    public Person(string fName, string lName)
    {
        this.firstName = fName;
        this.lastName = lName;
    }

    public string firstName;
    public string lastName;
}

public class People : IEnumerable
{
    private Person[] _people;
    public People(Person[] pArray)
    {
        _people = new Person[pArray.Length];

        for (int i = 0; i < pArray.Length; i++)
        {
            _people[i] = pArray[i];
        }
    }

    IEnumerator IEnumerable.GetEnumerator()
    {
       return (IEnumerator) GetEnumerator();
    }

    public PeopleEnum GetEnumerator()
    {
        return new PeopleEnum(_people);
    }
}

public class PeopleEnum : IEnumerator
{
    public Person[] _people;

    // Enumerators are positioned before the first element 
    // until the first MoveNext() call. 
    int position = -1;

    public PeopleEnum(Person[] list)
    {
        _people = list;
    }

    public bool MoveNext()
    {
        position++;
        return (position < _people.Length);
    }

    public void Reset()
    {
        position = -1;
    }

    object IEnumerator.Current
    {
        get
        {
            return Current;
        }
    }

    public Person Current
    {
        get
        {
            try
            {
                return _people[position];
            }
            catch (IndexOutOfRangeException)
            {
                throw new InvalidOperationException();
            }
        }
    }
}

class App
{
    static void Main()
    {
        Person[] peopleArray = new Person[3]
        {
            new Person("John", "Smith"),
            new Person("Jim", "Johnson"),
            new Person("Sue", "Rabon"),
        };

        People peopleList = new People(peopleArray);
        foreach (Person p in peopleList)
            Console.WriteLine(p.firstName + " " + p.lastName);

    }
}

/* This code produces output similar to the following:
 *
 * John Smith
 * Jim Johnson
 * Sue Rabon
 *
 */

Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP SP2, Windows XP Media Center Edition, Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, Windows XP Starter Edition, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2000 SP4, Windows Millennium Edition, Windows 98, Windows CE, Windows Mobile for Smartphone, Windows Mobile for Pocket PC, Xbox 360, Zune

The .NET Framework and .NET Compact Framework do not support all versions of every platform. For a list of the supported versions, see .NET Framework System Requirements.

.NET Framework

Supported in: 3.5, 3.0, 2.0, 1.1, 1.0

.NET Compact Framework

Supported in: 3.5, 2.0, 1.0

XNA Framework

Supported in: 3.0, 2.0, 1.0

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