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IEnumerable.GetEnumerator Method

Returns an enumerator that iterates through a collection.

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

IEnumerator GetEnumerator()

Return Value

Type: System.Collections.IEnumerator
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.


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
 *
 */


.NET Framework

Supported in: 4, 3.5, 3.0, 2.0, 1.1, 1.0

.NET Framework Client Profile

Supported in: 4, 3.5 SP1

Portable Class Library

Supported in: Portable Class Library

Windows 7, Windows Vista SP1 or later, Windows XP SP3, Windows XP SP2 x64 Edition, Windows Server 2008 (Server Core not supported), Windows Server 2008 R2 (Server Core supported with SP1 or later), Windows Server 2003 SP2

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

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