Using Anonymous Methods in C#
After you have the gist of using delegates, take a quick look at Microsoft’s first cut at simplifying delegates in C# 2.0 a couple of years ago. To cut out some of the delegate rigamarole, you can use an anonymous method. Anonymous methods are just written in more traditional notation. Although the syntax and a few details are different, the effect is essentially the same whether you use a raw delegate, an anonymous method, or a lambda expression.
An anonymous method creates the delegate instance and the method it “points” to at the same time — right in place, on the fly, tout de suite. Here are the guts of the
DoSomethingLengthy() method again, this time rewritten to use an anonymous method (boldfaced):
private void DoSomethingLengthy() // No arguments needed this time.
for (int i = 0; i < duration; i++)
if ((i % updateInterval) == 0)
// Create delegate instance.
UpdateProgressCallback anon = delegate()
progressBar1.PerformStep(); // Method ‘pointed’ to
if(anon != null) anon(); // Invoke the delegate.
The code looks like standard delegate instantiations, except that after the
= sign, you see the
delegate keyword, any parameters to the anonymous method in parentheses (or empty parentheses if none), and the method body. The code that used to be in a separate
DoUpdate() method — the method that the delegate “points” to — has moved inside the anonymous method — no more pointing. And this method is utterly nameless. You still need the
UpdateProgressCallback delegate type definition, and you’re still invoking a delegate instance, named
anon in this example.
Needless to say, this description doesn’t cover everything there is to know about anonymous methods, but it’s a start. Look up the term anonymous method in C# Language Help to see more anonymous method examples in the
DelegateExamples program on the website. The best advice is to keep your anonymous methods short.