Expressions

.NET Framework (current version)
 

A Windows Workflow Foundation (WF) expression is any activity that returns a result. All expression activities derive indirectly from Activity<TResult>, which contains an OutArgument property named Result as the activity’s return value. WF ships with a wide range of expression activities from simple ones like VariableValue<T> and VariableReference<T>, which provide access to single workflow variable through operator activities, to complex activities such as VisualBasicReference<TResult> and VisualBasicValue<TResult> that offer access to the full breadth of Visual Basic language to produce the result. Additional expression activities can be created by deriving from CodeActivity<TResult> or NativeActivity<TResult>.

Workflow designer uses VisualBasicValue<TResult> and VisualBasicReference<TResult> for all expressions in Visual Basic projects, and CSharpValue<TResult> and CSharpReference<TResult> for expressions in C# workflow projects.

System_CAPS_noteNote

Support for C# expressions in workflow projects was introduced in .NET Framework 4.5. For more information, see C# Expressions.

Workflows produced by designer are saved in XAML, where expressions appear enclosed in square brackets, as in the following example.

<Sequence xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/netfx/2009/xaml/activities" xmlns:x="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml">
  <Sequence.Variables>
    <Variable x:TypeArguments="x:Int32" Default="1" Name="a" />
    <Variable x:TypeArguments="x:Int32" Default="2" Name="b" />
    <Variable x:TypeArguments="x:Int32" Default="3" Name="c" />
    <Variable x:TypeArguments="x:Int32" Default="0" Name="r" />
  </Sequence.Variables>
  <Assign>
    <Assign.To>
      <OutArgument x:TypeArguments="x:Int32">[r]</OutArgument>
    </Assign.To>
    <Assign.Value>
      <InArgument x:TypeArguments="x:Int32">[a + b + c]</InArgument>
    </Assign.Value>
  </Assign>
</Sequence>

When defining a workflow in code, any expression activities can be used. The following example shows the usage of a composition of operator activities to add three numbers.

Variable<int> a = new Variable<int>("a", 1);
Variable<int> b = new Variable<int>("b", 2);
Variable<int> c = new Variable<int>("c", 3);
Variable<int> r = new Variable<int>("r", 0);

Sequence w = new Sequence
{
    Variables = { a, b, c, r },
    Activities = 
    {
        new Assign {
            To = new OutArgument<int>(r),
            Value = new InArgument<int> {
                Expression = new Add<int, int, int> {
                    Left = new Add<int, int, int> {
                        Left = new InArgument<int>(a),
                        Right = new InArgument<int>(b)
                    },
                    Right = new InArgument<int>(c)
                }
            }
        }
    }
};

The same workflow can be expressed more compactly by using C# lambda expressions, as shown in the following example.

Variable<int> a = new Variable<int>("a", 1);
Variable<int> b = new Variable<int>("b", 2);
Variable<int> c = new Variable<int>("c", 3);
Variable<int> r = new Variable<int>("r", 0);

Sequence w = new Sequence
{
    Variables = { a, b, c, r },
    Activities = 
    {
        new Assign {
            To = new OutArgument<int>(r),
            Value = new InArgument<int>((ctx) => a.Get(ctx) + b.Get(ctx) + c.Get(ctx))
        }
    }
};

The workflow can also be expressed by using Visual Basic expression activities, as shown in the following example.

Variable<int> a = new Variable<int>("a", 1);
Variable<int> b = new Variable<int>("b", 2);
Variable<int> c = new Variable<int>("c", 3);
Variable<int> r = new Variable<int>("r", 0);


Sequence w = new Sequence
{
    Variables = { a, b, c, r },
    Activities = 
    {
        new Assign {
            To = new OutArgument<int>(r),
            Value = new InArgument<int>(new VisualBasicValue<int>("a + b + c"))
        }
    }
};

Expressions in .NET Framework 4.6.1 are extensible allowing for additional expression activities to be created. The following example shows an activity that returns a sum of three integer values.

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Linq;
using System.Text;
using System.Activities;

namespace ExpressionsDemo
{
    public sealed class AddThreeValues : CodeActivity<int>
    {
        public InArgument<int> Value1 { get; set; }
        public InArgument<int> Value2 { get; set; }
        public InArgument<int> Value3 { get; set; }

        protected override int Execute(CodeActivityContext context)
        {
            return Value1.Get(context) + 
                   Value2.Get(context) + 
                   Value3.Get(context);
        }
    }
}

With this new activity you can rewrite the previous workflow that added three values as shown in the following example.

Variable<int> a = new Variable<int>("a", 1);
Variable<int> b = new Variable<int>("b", 2);
Variable<int> c = new Variable<int>("c", 3);
Variable<int> r = new Variable<int>("r", 0);


Sequence w = new Sequence
{
    Variables = { a, b, c, r },
    Activities = 
    {
        new Assign {
            To = new OutArgument<int>(r),
            Value = new InArgument<int> {
                Expression = new AddThreeValues() {
                    Value1 = new InArgument<int>(a),
                    Value2 = new InArgument<int>(b),
                    Value3 = new InArgument<int>(c)
                }
            }
        }
    }
};

For more information aboutusing expressions in code, see Authoring Workflows, Activities, and Expressions Using Imperative Code.

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