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9.3.1 Using alias directives

Visual Studio .NET 2003

A using-alias-directive introduces an identifier that serves as an alias for a namespace or type within the immediately enclosing compilation unit or namespace body.

using-alias-directive:
using   identifier   =   namespace-or-type-name   ;

Within member declarations in a compilation unit or namespace body that contains a using-alias-directive, the identifier introduced by the using-alias-directive can be used to reference the given namespace or type. For example:

namespace N1.N2
{
   class A {}
}
namespace N3
{
   using A = N1.N2.A;
   class B: A {}
}

Above, within member declarations in the N3 namespace, A is an alias for N1.N2.A, and thus class N3.B derives from class N1.N2.A. The same effect can be obtained by creating an alias R for N1.N2 and then referencing R.A:

namespace N3
{
   using R = N1.N2;
   class B: R.A {}
}

The identifier of a using-alias-directive must be unique within the declaration space of the compilation unit or namespace that immediately contains the using-alias-directive. For example:

namespace N3
{
   class A {}
}
namespace N3
{
   using A = N1.N2.A;      // Error, A already exists
}

Above, N3 already contains a member A, so it is a compile-time error for a using-alias-directive to use that identifier. Likewise, it is a compile-time error for two or more using-alias-directives in the same compilation unit or namespace body to declare aliases by the same name.

A using-alias-directive makes an alias available within a particular compilation unit or namespace body, but it does not contribute any new members to the underlying declaration space. In other words, a using-alias-directive is not transitive but rather affects only the compilation unit or namespace body in which it occurs. In the example

namespace N3
{
   using R = N1.N2;
}
namespace N3
{
   class B: R.A {}         // Error, R unknown
}

the scope of the using-alias-directive that introduces R only extends to member declarations in the namespace body in which it is contained, so R is unknown in the second namespace declaration. However, placing the using-alias-directive in the containing compilation unit causes the alias to become available within both namespace declarations:

using R = N1.N2;
namespace N3
{
   class B: R.A {}
}
namespace N3
{
   class C: R.A {}
}

Just like regular members, names introduced by using-alias-directives are hidden by similarly named members in nested scopes. In the example

using R = N1.N2;
namespace N3
{
   class R {}
   class B: R.A {}      // Error, R has no member A
}

the reference to R.A in the declaration of B causes a compile-time error because R refers to N3.R, not N1.N2.

The order in which using-alias-directives are written has no significance, and resolution of the namespace-or-type-name referenced by a using-alias-directive is not affected by the using-alias-directive itself or by other using-directives in the immediately containing compilation unit or namespace body. In other words, the namespace-or-type-name of a using-alias-directive is resolved as if the immediately containing compilation unit or namespace body had no using-directives. In the example

namespace N1.N2 {}
namespace N3
{
   using R1 = N1;         // OK
   using R2 = N1.N2;      // OK
   using R3 = R1.N2;      // Error, R1 unknown
}

the last using-alias-directive results in a compile-time error because it is not affected by the first using-alias-directive.

A using-alias-directive can create an alias for any namespace or type, including the namespace within which it appears and any namespace or type nested within that namespace.

Accessing a namespace or type through an alias yields exactly the same result as accessing that namespace or type through its declared name. For example, given

namespace N1.N2
{
   class A {}
}
namespace N3
{
   using R1 = N1;
   using R2 = N1.N2;
   class B
   {
      N1.N2.A a;         // refers to N1.N2.A
      R1.N2.A b;         // refers to N1.N2.A
      R2.A c;            // refers to N1.N2.A
   }
}

the names N1.N2.A, R1.N2.A, and R2.A are equivalent and all refer to the class whose fully qualified name is N1.N2.A.

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