Who cares about C# interfaces?
- Written by Boris Drajer
- Published in Microsoft .Net
I remember that when the first version of Java was released one of the frequent questions was: why doesn’t it have multiple inheritance? This also happened later with C#. The answer in both cases was: you can use interfaces instead. It is not the same, you don’t inherit the logic, but you can at least simulate it by implementing multiple interfaces.
Well, this was obviously forgotten by the people designing C# classes: even worse, they seem not to have been aware of it because most of the classes in v1.0 onward don’t have equivalent interfaces that would allow this.
There’s a real-life example (or should I say everyday example? Because I’ve encountered it a million times, you probably did too) that perfectly illustrates the point: why isn’t there an IControl interface that represents a (windows, web, whichever) control type? The logical answer (and it was probably the real reason the framework designers came up with) would be: well, it would be too difficult to implement. Anything that is supposed to work as a control should really have to be derived from Control. True: but the purpose of interfaces is not only to implement them.
Let’s say I want to create my control type that implements some interface, IMyInterface. How do I reference this component, using a variable of Control type or IMyInterface? Whichever I use it isn’t complete, I have to cast it into the other one and I lose compile-time type safety. I could create a ControlWithMyInterface base class that implements the interface and use this instead of both, but then I’d have to inherit everything from it, which in most cases would not be possible. No, the only solution would be to support the “interfaces instead of multiple inheritance” principle and derive IMyInterface from IControl, but IControl doesn’t exist. Although it wouldn’t be too difficult to implement, one could just put all of Control’s public members into the interface.
There could really be a programming rule enforcing the existence of an equivalent interface for every class, even something that generates them on the fly from its public members. I wonder if there is a pre-processor that can help with this?