KeyedCollection<TKey, TItem>.GetKeyForItem Method (TItem)


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When implemented in a derived class, extracts the key from the specified element.

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

protected abstract TKey GetKeyForItem(
	TItem item


Type: TItem

The element from which to extract the key.

Return Value

Type: TKey

The key for the specified element.

If the key in the lookup dictionary is different from the key that is embedded in item, you cannot access item by using the key returned by GetKeyForItem.

You can implement this method to return null for a collection that contains items without keys, in which case the items can be accessed only by their index. This method is an O(1) operation.

You must override this method to provide the dictionary with a way to extract keys from items in the dictionary.

This method is called internally. It is not necessary for it to be public.

This code example shows the minimum code necessary to derive a collection class from KeyedCollection<TKey, TItem>: overriding the GetKeyForItem method and providing a public constructor that delegates to a base class constructor. The code example also demonstrates many of the properties and methods inherited from KeyedCollection<TKey, TItem> and Collection<T> classes.

The SimpleOrder class is a very simple requisition list that contains OrderItem objects, each of which represents a line item in the order. The key of OrderItem is immutable, an important consideration for classes that derive from KeyedCollection<TKey, TItem>. For a code example that uses mutable keys, see ChangeItemKey.

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Collections.ObjectModel;

// This class represents a very simple keyed list of OrderItems,
// inheriting most of its behavior from the KeyedCollection and 
// Collection classes. The immediate base class is the constructed
// type KeyedCollection<int, OrderItem>. When you inherit
// from KeyedCollection, the second generic type argument is the 
// type that you want to store in the collection -- in this case
// OrderItem. The first type argument is the type that you want
// to use as a key. Its values must be calculated from OrderItem; 
// in this case it is the int field PartNumber, so SimpleOrder
// inherits KeyedCollection<int, OrderItem>.
public class SimpleOrder : KeyedCollection<int, OrderItem>

    // This is the only method that absolutely must be overridden,
    // because without it the KeyedCollection cannot extract the
    // keys from the items. The input parameter type is the 
    // second generic type argument, in this case OrderItem, and 
    // the return value type is the first generic type argument,
    // in this case int.
    protected override int GetKeyForItem(OrderItem item)
        // In this example, the key is the part number.
        return item.PartNumber;

public class Demo
    public static void Main()
        SimpleOrder weekly = new SimpleOrder();

        // The Add method, inherited from Collection, takes OrderItem.
        weekly.Add(new OrderItem(110072674, "Widget", 400, 45.17));
        weekly.Add(new OrderItem(110072675, "Sprocket", 27, 5.3));
        weekly.Add(new OrderItem(101030411, "Motor", 10, 237.5));
        weekly.Add(new OrderItem(110072684, "Gear", 175, 5.17));


        // The Contains method of KeyedCollection takes the key, 
        // type, in this case int.
        Console.WriteLine("\nContains(101030411): {0}", 

        // The default Item property of KeyedCollection takes a key.
        Console.WriteLine("\nweekly[101030411].Description: {0}", 

        // The Remove method of KeyedCollection takes a key.

        // The Insert method, inherited from Collection, takes an 
        // index and an OrderItem.
        Console.WriteLine("\nInsert(2, New OrderItem(...))");
        weekly.Insert(2, new OrderItem(111033401, "Nut", 10, .5));

        // The default Item property is overloaded. One overload comes
        // from KeyedCollection<int, OrderItem>; that overload
        // is read-only, and takes Integer because it retrieves by key. 
        // The other overload comes from Collection<OrderItem>, the 
        // base class of KeyedCollection<int, OrderItem>; it 
        // retrieves by index, so it also takes an Integer. The compiler
        // uses the most-derived overload, from KeyedCollection, so the
        // only way to access SimpleOrder by index is to cast it to
        // Collection<OrderItem>. Otherwise the index is interpreted
        // as a key, and KeyNotFoundException is thrown.
        Collection<OrderItem> coweekly = weekly;
        Console.WriteLine("\ncoweekly[2].Description: {0}", 

        Console.WriteLine("\ncoweekly[2] = new OrderItem(...)");
        coweekly[2] = new OrderItem(127700026, "Crank", 27, 5.98);

        OrderItem temp = coweekly[2];

        // The IndexOf method inherited from Collection<OrderItem> 
        // takes an OrderItem instead of a key
        Console.WriteLine("\nIndexOf(temp): {0}", weekly.IndexOf(temp));

        // The inherited Remove method also takes an OrderItem.



    private static void Display(SimpleOrder order)
        foreach( OrderItem item in order )

// This class represents a simple line item in an order. All the 
// values are immutable except quantity.
public class OrderItem
    public readonly int PartNumber;
    public readonly string Description;
    public readonly double UnitPrice;

    private int _quantity = 0;

    public OrderItem(int partNumber, string description, 
        int quantity, double unitPrice)
        this.PartNumber = partNumber;
        this.Description = description;
        this.Quantity = quantity;
        this.UnitPrice = unitPrice;

    public int Quantity    
        get { return _quantity; }
            if (value<0)
                throw new ArgumentException("Quantity cannot be negative.");

            _quantity = value;

    public override string ToString()
        return String.Format(
            "{0,9} {1,6} {2,-12} at {3,8:#,###.00} = {4,10:###,###.00}", 
            PartNumber, _quantity, Description, UnitPrice, 
            UnitPrice * _quantity);

/* This code example produces the following output:

110072674    400 Widget       at    45.17 =  18,068.00
110072675     27 Sprocket     at     5.30 =     143.10
101030411     10 Motor        at   237.50 =   2,375.00
110072684    175 Gear         at     5.17 =     904.75

Contains(101030411): True

weekly[101030411].Description: Motor


110072674    400 Widget       at    45.17 =  18,068.00
110072675     27 Sprocket     at     5.30 =     143.10
110072684    175 Gear         at     5.17 =     904.75

Insert(2, New OrderItem(...))

110072674    400 Widget       at    45.17 =  18,068.00
110072675     27 Sprocket     at     5.30 =     143.10
111033401     10 Nut          at      .50 =       5.00
110072684    175 Gear         at     5.17 =     904.75

coweekly[2].Description: Nut

coweekly[2] = new OrderItem(...)

IndexOf(temp): 2


110072674    400 Widget       at    45.17 =  18,068.00
110072675     27 Sprocket     at     5.30 =     143.10
110072684    175 Gear         at     5.17 =     904.75


110072675     27 Sprocket     at     5.30 =     143.10
110072684    175 Gear         at     5.17 =     904.75

Universal Windows Platform
Available since 8
.NET Framework
Available since 2.0
Portable Class Library
Supported in: portable .NET platforms
Available since 2.0
Windows Phone Silverlight
Available since 7.0
Windows Phone
Available since 8.1
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