Information
The topic you requested is included in another documentation set. For convenience, it's displayed below. Choose Switch to see the topic in its original location.

IEnumerable.GetEnumerator Method

Returns an enumerator that iterates through a collection.

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

IEnumerator GetEnumerator ()
IEnumerator GetEnumerator ()
function GetEnumerator () : IEnumerator
Not applicable.

Return Value

An IEnumerator object that can be used to iterate through the collection.

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, the Current property is undefined. 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 returns false, Current is undefined. 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 its behavior is undefined.

The enumerator does not have exclusive access to the collection; therefore, enumerating through a collection is intrinsically not a thread-safe procedure. To guarantee thread safety during enumeration, you can lock the collection during the entire enumeration. To allow the collection to be accessed by multiple threads for reading and writing, you must implement your own synchronization.

The following code example demonstrates the implementation of the IEnumerable interfaces for a custom collection. In this example, GetEnumerator is not explicitly called, but it is implemented to support the use of foreach (For Each in Visual Basic). This code example is part of a larger example for the IEnumerable interface.

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];
        }
    }

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

Windows 98, Windows Server 2000 SP4, Windows CE, Windows Millennium Edition, Windows Mobile for Pocket PC, Windows Mobile for Smartphone, Windows Server 2003, Windows XP Media Center Edition, Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, Windows XP SP2, Windows XP Starter Edition

The Microsoft .NET Framework 3.0 is supported on Windows Vista, Microsoft Windows XP SP2, and Windows Server 2003 SP1.

.NET Framework

Supported in: 3.0, 2.0, 1.1, 1.0

.NET Compact Framework

Supported in: 2.0, 1.0

XNA Framework

Supported in: 1.0
Was this page helpful?
(1500 characters remaining)
Thank you for your feedback

Community Additions

Show:
© 2014 Microsoft