What is the yield keyword used for in C#?


Question

In the How Can I Expose Only a Fragment of IList<> question one of the answers had the following code snippet:

IEnumerable<object> FilteredList()
{
    foreach(object item in FullList)
    {
        if(IsItemInPartialList(item))
            yield return item;
    }
}

What does the yield keyword do there? I've seen it referenced in a couple places, and one other question, but I haven't quite figured out what it actually does. I'm used to thinking of yield in the sense of one thread yielding to another, but that doesn't seem relevant here.

1
756
7/15/2019 7:33:09 AM

Accepted Answer

The yield keyword actually does quite a lot here.

The function returns an object that implements the IEnumerable<object> interface. If a calling function starts foreaching over this object, the function is called again until it "yields". This is syntactic sugar introduced in C# 2.0. In earlier versions you had to create your own IEnumerable and IEnumerator objects to do stuff like this.

The easiest way understand code like this is to type-in an example, set some breakpoints and see what happens. Try stepping through this example:

public void Consumer()
{
    foreach(int i in Integers())
    {
        Console.WriteLine(i.ToString());
    }
}

public IEnumerable<int> Integers()
{
    yield return 1;
    yield return 2;
    yield return 4;
    yield return 8;
    yield return 16;
    yield return 16777216;
}

When you step through the example, you'll find the first call to Integers() returns 1. The second call returns 2 and the line yield return 1 is not executed again.

Here is a real-life example:

public IEnumerable<T> Read<T>(string sql, Func<IDataReader, T> make, params object[] parms)
{
    using (var connection = CreateConnection())
    {
        using (var command = CreateCommand(CommandType.Text, sql, connection, parms))
        {
            command.CommandTimeout = dataBaseSettings.ReadCommandTimeout;
            using (var reader = command.ExecuteReader())
            {
                while (reader.Read())
                {
                    yield return make(reader);
                }
            }
        }
    }
}
673
6/1/2019 2:24:09 AM

Iteration. It creates a state machine "under the covers" that remembers where you were on each additional cycle of the function and picks up from there.


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