IDictionary<TKey, TValue> Interface

Represents a generic collection of key/value pairs.

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

public interface IDictionary<TKey, TValue> : ICollection<KeyValuePair<TKey, TValue>>, 
	IEnumerable<KeyValuePair<TKey, TValue>>, IEnumerable

Type Parameters

TKey

The type of keys in the dictionary.

TValue

The type of values in the dictionary.

The IDictionary<TKey, TValue> interface is the base interface for generic collections of key/value pairs.

Each element is a key/value pair stored in a KeyValuePair<TKey, TValue> object.

Each pair must have a unique key. Implementations can vary in whether they allow key to be null. The value can be null and does not have to be unique. The IDictionary<TKey, TValue> interface allows the contained keys and values to be enumerated, but it does not imply any particular sort order.

The foreach statement of the C# language (For Each in Visual Basic, for each in C++) requires the type of each element in the collection. Since each element of the IDictionary<TKey, TValue> is a key/value pair, the element type is not the type of the key or the type of the value. Instead, the element type is KeyValuePair<TKey, TValue>. For example:

foreach (KeyValuePair<int, string> kvp in myDictionary) {...}

The foreach statement is a wrapper around the enumerator, which only allows reading from, not writing to, the collection.

NoteNote:

Because keys can be inherited and their behavior changed, their absolute uniqueness cannot be guaranteed by comparisons using the Equals method.

Notes to Implementers:

The implementing class must have a means to compare keys.

The following code example creates an empty Dictionary<TKey, TValue> of strings, with integer keys, and accesses it through the IDictionary<TKey, TValue> interface.

The code example uses the Add method to add some elements. The example demonstrates that the Add method throws ArgumentException when attempting to add a duplicate key.

The example uses the Item property (the indexer in C#) to retrieve values, demonstrating that a KeyNotFoundException is thrown when a requested key is not present, and showing that the value associated with a key can be replaced.

The example shows how to use the TryGetValue method as a more efficient way to retrieve values if a program often must try key values that are not in the dictionary, and how to use the ContainsKey method to test whether a key exists prior to calling the Add method.

Finally, the example shows how to enumerate the keys and values in the dictionary, and how to enumerate the values alone using the Values property.

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;

public class Example
{
    public static void Main()
    {
        // Create a new dictionary of strings, with string keys,  
        // and access it through the IDictionary generic interface.
        IDictionary<string, string> openWith = 
            new Dictionary<string, string>();

        // Add some elements to the dictionary. There are no  
        // duplicate keys, but some of the values are duplicates.
        openWith.Add("txt", "notepad.exe");
        openWith.Add("bmp", "paint.exe");
        openWith.Add("dib", "paint.exe");
        openWith.Add("rtf", "wordpad.exe");

        // The Add method throws an exception if the new key is  
        // already in the dictionary. 
        try
        {
            openWith.Add("txt", "winword.exe");
        }
        catch (ArgumentException)
        {
            Console.WriteLine("An element with Key = \"txt\" already exists.");
        }

        // The Item property is another name for the indexer, so you  
        // can omit its name when accessing elements. 
        Console.WriteLine("For key = \"rtf\", value = {0}.", 
            openWith["rtf"]);

        // The indexer can be used to change the value associated 
        // with a key.
        openWith["rtf"] = "winword.exe";
        Console.WriteLine("For key = \"rtf\", value = {0}.", 
            openWith["rtf"]);

        // If a key does not exist, setting the indexer for that key 
        // adds a new key/value pair.
        openWith["doc"] = "winword.exe";

        // The indexer throws an exception if the requested key is 
        // not in the dictionary. 
        try
        {
            Console.WriteLine("For key = \"tif\", value = {0}.", 
                openWith["tif"]);
        }
        catch (KeyNotFoundException)
        {
            Console.WriteLine("Key = \"tif\" is not found.");
        }

        // When a program often has to try keys that turn out not to 
        // be in the dictionary, TryGetValue can be a more efficient  
        // way to retrieve values.
        string value = "";
        if (openWith.TryGetValue("tif", out value))
        {
            Console.WriteLine("For key = \"tif\", value = {0}.", value);
        }
        else
        {
            Console.WriteLine("Key = \"tif\" is not found.");
        }

        // ContainsKey can be used to test keys before inserting  
        // them. 
        if (!openWith.ContainsKey("ht"))
        {
            openWith.Add("ht", "hypertrm.exe");
            Console.WriteLine("Value added for key = \"ht\": {0}", 
                openWith["ht"]);
        }

        // When you use foreach to enumerate dictionary elements, 
        // the elements are retrieved as KeyValuePair objects.
        Console.WriteLine();
        foreach( KeyValuePair<string, string> kvp in openWith )
        {
            Console.WriteLine("Key = {0}, Value = {1}", 
                kvp.Key, kvp.Value);
        }

        // To get the values alone, use the Values property.
        ICollection<string> icoll = openWith.Values;

        // The elements of the ValueCollection are strongly typed 
        // with the type that was specified for dictionary values.
        Console.WriteLine();
        foreach( string s in icoll )
        {
            Console.WriteLine("Value = {0}", s);
        }

        // To get the keys alone, use the Keys property.
        icoll = openWith.Keys;

        // The elements of the ValueCollection are strongly typed 
        // with the type that was specified for dictionary values.
        Console.WriteLine();
        foreach( string s in icoll )
        {
            Console.WriteLine("Key = {0}", s);
        }

        // Use the Remove method to remove a key/value pair.
        Console.WriteLine("\nRemove(\"doc\")");
        openWith.Remove("doc");

        if (!openWith.ContainsKey("doc"))
        {
            Console.WriteLine("Key \"doc\" is not found.");
        }
    }
}

/* This code example produces the following output:

An element with Key = "txt" already exists.
For key = "rtf", value = wordpad.exe.
For key = "rtf", value = winword.exe.
Key = "tif" is not found.
Key = "tif" is not found.
Value added for key = "ht": hypertrm.exe

Key = txt, Value = notepad.exe
Key = bmp, Value = paint.exe
Key = dib, Value = paint.exe
Key = rtf, Value = winword.exe
Key = doc, Value = winword.exe
Key = ht, Value = hypertrm.exe

Value = notepad.exe
Value = paint.exe
Value = paint.exe
Value = winword.exe
Value = winword.exe
Value = hypertrm.exe

Key = txt
Key = bmp
Key = dib
Key = rtf
Key = doc
Key = ht

Remove("doc")
Key "doc" is not found.
 */

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

.NET Compact Framework

Supported in: 3.5, 2.0

XNA Framework

Supported in: 3.0, 2.0, 1.0
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