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IFormatProvider Interface

Provides a mechanism for retrieving an object to control formatting.

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

[ComVisibleAttribute(true)]
public interface IFormatProvider

The IFormatProvider type exposes the following members.

  NameDescription
Public methodSupported by Silverlight for Windows PhoneSupported by Xbox 360GetFormatReturns an object that provides formatting services for the specified type.
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The IFormatProvider interface supplies an object that provides formatting information for formatting and parsing operations. Formatting operations convert the value of a type to the string representation of that value. Typical formatting methods are the ToString methods of a type, as well as Format. Parsing operations convert the string representation of a value to a type with that value. Typical parsing methods are Parse and TryParse.

The IFormatProvider interface consists of a single method, IFormatProvider.GetFormat. GetFormat is a callback method: The parsing or formatting method calls it and passes it a Type object that represents the type of object that the formatting or parsing method expects will provide formatting information. The GetFormat method is responsible for returning an object of that type.

IFormatProvider implementations are often used implicitly by formatting and parsing methods. For example, the DateTime.ToString(String) method implicitly uses an IFormatProvider implementation that represents the system's current culture. IFormatProvider implementations can also be specified explicitly by methods that have a parameter of type IFormatProvider, such as Int32.Parse(String, IFormatProvider) and String.Format(IFormatProvider, String, Object[]).

The .NET Framework includes the following three predefined IFormatProvider implementations to provide culture-specific information that is used in formatting or parsing numeric and date and time values:

  • The NumberFormatInfo class, which provides information that is used to format numbers, such as the currency, thousands separator, and decimal separator symbols for a particular culture.

  • The DateTimeFormatInfo class, which provides information that is used to format dates and times, such as the date and time separator symbols for a particular culture or the order and form of a date's year, month, and day components.

  • The CultureInfo class, which represents a particular culture. Its GetFormat method returns a culture-specific NumberFormatInfo or DateTimeFormatInfo object, depending on whether the CultureInfo object is used in a formatting or parsing operation that involves numbers or dates and times.

The .NET Framework also supports custom formatting. This typically involves the creation of a formatting class that implements both IFormatProvider and ICustomFormatter. An instance of this class is then passed as a parameter to a method that performs a custom formatting operation, such as String.Format(IFormatProvider, String, Object[]) The example provides an illustration of such a custom implementation that formats a number as a 12-digit account number.

The following example illustrates how an IFormatProvider implementation can change the representation of a date and time value. In this case, a single date is displayed by using CultureInfo objects that represent four different cultures.


using System;
using System.Globalization;

public class Example
{
   public static void Demo(System.Windows.Controls.TextBlock outputBlock)
   {
      DateTime dateValue = new DateTime(2009, 6, 1, 16, 37, 0);
      CultureInfo[] cultures = { new CultureInfo("en-US"), 
                                 new CultureInfo("fr-FR"),
                                 new CultureInfo("it-IT"),
                                 new CultureInfo("de-DE") };
      foreach (CultureInfo culture in cultures)
         outputBlock.Text += String.Format("{0}: {1}", culture.Name, dateValue.ToString(culture)) + "\n";
   }
}
// The example displays the following output:
//       en-US: 6/1/2009 4:37:00 PM
//       fr-FR: 01/06/2009 16:37:00
//       it-IT: 01/06/2009 16.37.00
//       de-DE: 01.06.2009 16:37:00


The following example illustrates the use of a class that implements the IFormatProvider interface and the GetFormat method. The AcctNumberFormat class converts an Int64 value that represents an account number to a formatted 12-digit account number. Its GetFormat method returns a reference to the current AcctNumberFormat instance if the formatType parameter refers to a class that implements ICustomFormatter; otherwise, GetFormat returns null.


public class AcctNumberFormat : IFormatProvider, ICustomFormatter
{
   private const int ACCT_LENGTH = 12;

   public object GetFormat(Type formatType)
   {
      if (formatType == typeof(ICustomFormatter))
         return this;
      else
         return null;
   }

   public string Format(string fmt, object arg, IFormatProvider formatProvider) 
   {
      // Provide default formatting if arg is not an Int64.
      if (arg.GetType() != typeof(Int64))
         try {
            return HandleOtherFormats(fmt, arg); 
         }
         catch (FormatException e) {
            throw new FormatException(String.Format("The format of '{0}' is invalid.", fmt), e);
         }

      // Provide default formatting for unsupported format strings.
      fmt = fmt.ToUpper(CultureInfo.InvariantCulture);
      if (! (fmt == "H" || fmt == "I")) 
         return HandleOtherFormats(fmt, arg);

      // Convert argument to a string.
      string result = arg.ToString();

      // If account number is less than 12 characters, pad with leading zeroes.
      if (result.Length < ACCT_LENGTH)
         result = result.PadLeft(ACCT_LENGTH, '0');
      // If account number is more than 12 characters, truncate to 12 characters.
      if (result.Length > ACCT_LENGTH)
         result = result.Substring(0, ACCT_LENGTH);   

      if (fmt.ToUpper() == "I")                    // Integer-only format. 
         return result;
      // Add hyphens for H format specifier.
      else if (fmt.ToUpper() == "H")               // Hyphenated format.
         return result.Substring(0, 5) + "-" + result.Substring(5, 3) + "-" + result.Substring(8);
      // Return string representation of argument for any other formatting code.
      else
         try {
            return HandleOtherFormats(fmt, arg); 
         }
         catch (FormatException e) {
            throw new FormatException(String.Format("The format of '{0}' is invalid.", fmt), e);
         }
   }

   private string HandleOtherFormats(string format, object arg)
   {
      if (arg is IFormattable) 
         return ((IFormattable)arg).ToString(format, CultureInfo.CurrentCulture);
      else if (arg != null)
         return arg.ToString();
      else
         return String.Empty;
   }
}


The class that implements IFormatProvider can then be used in a call to a formatting and parsing operation. For example, the following code calls the String.Format(IFormatProvider, String, Object[]) method to generate a string that contains a formatted 12-digit account number.


public enum DaysOfWeek { Monday=1, Tuesday=2 };

public class Example
{
   public static void Demo(System.Windows.Controls.TextBlock outputBlock)
   {
      long acctNumber;
      double balance; 
      DaysOfWeek wday; 
      string output;

      acctNumber = 104254567890;
      balance = 16.34;
      wday = DaysOfWeek.Monday;

      output = String.Format(new AcctNumberFormat(), 
                             "On {2}, the balance of account {0:H} was {1:C2}.", 
                             acctNumber, balance, wday);
      outputBlock.Text += output + "\n";

      wday = DaysOfWeek.Tuesday;
      output = String.Format(new AcctNumberFormat(), 
                             "On {2}, the balance of account {0:I} was {1:C2}.", 
                             acctNumber, balance, wday);
      outputBlock.Text += output + "\n";
   }
}
// The example displays the following output:
//    On Monday, the balance of account 10425-456-7890 was $16.34.
//    On Tuesday, the balance of account 104254567890 was $16.34.


Silverlight

Supported in: 5, 4, 3

Silverlight for Windows Phone

Supported in: Windows Phone OS 7.1, Windows Phone OS 7.0

XNA Framework

Supported in: Xbox 360, Windows Phone OS 7.0

For a list of the operating systems and browsers that are supported by Silverlight, see Supported Operating Systems and Browsers.

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