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Important This document may not represent best practices for current development, links to downloads and other resources may no longer be valid. Current recommended version can be found here.

Member Visibility

The internal (accessible from within the same assembly) and external (accessible from outside the assembly) for a member of a public class can differ.

You can specify the accessibility of a type member using pairs of access specifiers selected from public, protected, and private.

The following table summarizes the effect of the various access specifiers

Specifier Effect
public

Member is accessible inside and outside the assembly. See public (C++) for more information.

private

Member is accessible neither inside nor outside the assembly. See private (C++) for more information.

protected

Member is accessible inside and outside the assembly, but only to derived types. See protected (C++) for more information.

internal

Member is public inside the assembly but private outside the assembly. internal is a context sensitive keyword. For more information, see Context-Sensitive Keywords.

public protected
-or-
protected public

Member is public inside the assembly but protected outside the assembly.

private protected
-or-
protected private

Member is protected inside the assembly but private outside the assembly.

The following sample shows a public type with members declared with the different accessibilities, and accesses those members from inside the assembly.

// type_member_visibility.cpp
// compile with: /clr
using namespace System;
// public type, visible inside and outside the assembly
public ref class Public_Class {
public:
   void Public_Function(){System::Console::WriteLine("in Public_Function");}

private:
   void Private_Function(){System::Console::WriteLine("in Private_Function");}

protected:
   void Protected_Function(){System::Console::WriteLine("in Protected_Function");}

internal:
   void Internal_Function(){System::Console::WriteLine("in Internal_Function");}

protected public:
   void Protected_Public_Function(){System::Console::WriteLine("in Protected_Public_Function");}

public protected:
   void Public_Protected_Function(){System::Console::WriteLine("in Public_Protected_Function");}

private protected:
   void Private_Protected_Function(){System::Console::WriteLine("in Private_Protected_Function");}

protected private:
   void Protected_Private_Function(){System::Console::WriteLine("in Protected_Private_Function");}
};

// a derived type, will call protected functions
ref struct MyClass : public Public_Class {
   void Test() {
      Console::WriteLine("=======================");
      Console::WriteLine("in function of derived class");
      Protected_Function();
      Protected_Private_Function();
      Private_Protected_Function();
      Console::WriteLine("exiting function of derived class");
      Console::WriteLine("=======================");
   }
};

int main() {
   Public_Class ^ a = gcnew Public_Class;
   MyClass ^ b = gcnew MyClass;
   a->Public_Function();
   a->Protected_Public_Function();
   a->Public_Protected_Function();

   // accessible inside but not outside the assembly
   a->Internal_Function();

   // call protected functions
   b->Test();

   // not accessible inside or outside the assembly
   // a->Private_Function();
}

Output

in Public_Function
in Protected_Public_Function
in Public_Protected_Function
in Internal_Function
=======================
in function of derived class
in Protected_Function
in Protected_Private_Function
in Private_Protected_Function
exiting function of derived class
=======================

Now let's build the previous sample as a DLL.

// type_member_visibility_2.cpp
// compile with: /clr /LD
using namespace System;
// public type, visible inside and outside the assembly
public ref class Public_Class {
public:
   void Public_Function(){System::Console::WriteLine("in Public_Function");}

private:
   void Private_Function(){System::Console::WriteLine("in Private_Function");}

protected:
   void Protected_Function(){System::Console::WriteLine("in Protected_Function");}

internal:
   void Internal_Function(){System::Console::WriteLine("in Internal_Function");}

protected public:
   void Protected_Public_Function(){System::Console::WriteLine("in Protected_Public_Function");}

public protected:
   void Public_Protected_Function(){System::Console::WriteLine("in Public_Protected_Function");}

private protected:
   void Private_Protected_Function(){System::Console::WriteLine("in Private_Protected_Function");}

protected private:
   void Protected_Private_Function(){System::Console::WriteLine("in Protected_Private_Function");}
};

// a derived type, will call protected functions
ref struct MyClass : public Public_Class {
   void Test() {
      Console::WriteLine("=======================");
      Console::WriteLine("in function of derived class");
      Protected_Function();
      Protected_Private_Function();
      Private_Protected_Function();
      Console::WriteLine("exiting function of derived class");
      Console::WriteLine("=======================");
   }
};

The following sample consumes the component created in the previous sample, showing how to access the members from outside the assembly.

// type_member_visibility_3.cpp
// compile with: /clr
#using "type_member_visibility_2.dll"
using namespace System;
// a derived type, will call protected functions
ref struct MyClass : public Public_Class {
   void Test() {
      Console::WriteLine("=======================");
      Console::WriteLine("in function of derived class");
      Protected_Function();
      Protected_Public_Function();
      Public_Protected_Function();
      Console::WriteLine("exiting function of derived class");
      Console::WriteLine("=======================");
   }
};

int main() {
   Public_Class ^ a = gcnew Public_Class;
   MyClass ^ b = gcnew MyClass;
   a->Public_Function();

   // call protected functions
   b->Test();

   // can't be called outside the assembly
   // a->Private_Function();
   // a->Internal_Function();   
   // a->Protected_Private_Function();
   // a->Private_Protected_Function();
}

Output

in Public_Function
=======================
in function of derived class
in Protected_Function
in Protected_Public_Function
in Public_Protected_Function
exiting function of derived class
=======================

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