Defining Attributes

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Attribute classes define attributes that can be applied to declarations. Attribute classes always inherit from the class System.Attribute , and by convention the name of the attribute class should end in the word "Attribute." (For example, if you wanted to define a Help attribute, the name of the class would be HelpAttribute .)

Style

It is strongly recommended that attribute class names always end in "Attribute." When looking for an attribute with a particular name, the compiler will first look for the name with "Attribute" added to the end and, if that fails, will look up the name as provided. This means that if an X attribute class and an XAttribute attribute class are defined, <X> will always refer to XAttribute , and there will be no way to refer to X .


An attribute class must also have a System.AttributeUsageAttribute attribute applied to it. The ValidOn parameter of the AttributeUsage constructor specifies what kinds of declarations the attribute may be placed on and whether the attribute is multiuse and/or inherited. Table 15-1 lists the types of declarations that attributes may be placed on and the corresponding values that can be passed to the ValidOn parameter.

NOTE

The AttributeTargets enumeration values are flags and can be combined using the Or operator.


The parameters of an attribute are defined by the parameters of the instance constructors of the attribute. The following example defines an attribute that can take either a String value or a String value and an Integer value as arguments, and shows a use of the attribute.

 <System.AttributeUsage(System.AttributeTargets.All)> _ Public Class HelpAttribute   Inherits Attribute   Public ReadOnly Message As String   Public ReadOnly TopicNumber As Integer   Public Sub New(ByVal Message As String)     Me.Message = Message   End Sub   Public Sub New(ByVal Message As String, ByVal TopicNumber As Integer)     Me.Message = Message     Me.TopicNumber = TopicNumber   End Sub End Class <Help("This is a test class.", 5393)> _ Class Test End Class 
Table 15-1. AttributeTargets Values

Values

Description

AttributeTargets.All

Attribute can be applied to anything in this list.

AttributeTargets.Assembly

Attribute can be applied to an assembly as a whole.

AttributeTargets.Class

Attribute can be applied to a class or module.

AttributeTargets.Constructor

Attribute can be applied to instance and shared constructors.

AttributeTargets.Delegate

Attribute can be applied to a delegate.

AttributeTargets.Enum

Attribute can be applied to an enumeration.

AttributeTargets.Event

Attribute can be applied to an event.

AttributeTargets.Field

Attribute can be applied to a field.

AttributeTargets.Interface

Attribute can be applied to an interface.

AttributeTargets.Method

Attribute can be applied to a method.

AttributeTargets.Module

Attribute can be applied to a .NET Framework module.

AttributeTargets.Parameter

Attribute can be applied to a parameter.

AttributeTargets.Property

Attribute can be applied to a property.

AttributeTargets.ReturnValue

Attribute can be applied the return value of a function.

AttributeTargets.Struct

Attribute can be applied to a structure.

Attribute properties represent optional values for the attribute and are defined by instance fields and properties in the attribute class. To be used when an attribute is applied, the field or property cannot be ReadOnly . The following example rewrites the previous example using a property for the TopicNumber instead of constructor arguments.

 <System.AttributeUsage(System.AttributeTargets.All)> _ Public Class HelpAttribute   Inherits Attribute   Public ReadOnly Message As String   Private _TopicNumber As Integer   Public Property TopicNumber() As Integer     Get       Return _TopicNumber     End Get     Set (Value As Integer)       _TopicNumber = Value     End Set   End Property   Public Sub New(ByVal Message As String)     Me.Message = Message   End Sub End Class <Help("This is a test class.", TopicNumber := 5393)> _ Class Test End Class 

Only certain types can be stored in attributes. Fields, properties, and constructor arguments in an attribute class can only be one of the following types:

  • The fundamental types Boolean , Byte , Short , Integer , Long , Single , Double , Char , and String . (Note that this list does not include Date or Decimal .)

  • The base .NET Framework reflection type System.Type .

  • Any enumeration.

If a field, property, or constructor uses a type that isn't in this list (or if they use an enumeration that isn't accessible), the field, property, or constructor cannot be used when the attribute is applied to a declaration.

Advanced

The list of types that can be used in attributes is the same as those allowed by the Common Language Specification (CLS). Other languages, however, may allow using types such as Object or one-dimensional arrays in attributes even though those attributes would not be CLS compliant. Non-CLS-compliant attributes cannot be used in Visual Basic .NET.


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The Visual Basic .NET Programming Language
The Visual Basic .NET Programming Language
ISBN: 0321169514
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2004
Pages: 173
Authors: Paul Vick

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