[Mono-list] Suggestion: warning "member variable not initialized"

Maurizio Colucci seguso.forever@tin.it
Sat, 7 Jun 2003 14:50:03 +0200


Currently the Microsoft C# compiler gives an error if you forget to
initialize a readonly member variable (this can be done either in the
contructor or in the declaration itself.)

I already posted a wish for mcs about that, but:

What about extending this behavior to non-readonly member-variables?
(Maybe a warning instead of an error?)


I cannot think of a case where not initializing a member variable (in
the constructor or at declaration time) makes sense. So we would catch
a frequent semantic error without any drawback...

Someone could reply that there ARE indeed some cases when you don't
know an appropriate value for a member variable when the constructor
is called. Maybe the user must initialize it explicitely, after


class C{
  private int member_var;

  public C(){
    // I don't yet know how to initialize member_var. Only the
    // user can do that, via the Init method.

  public void Init(int m){


But, on the other hand, the above is bad design:

If member_var is not always meaningful across the lifetime of class C,
then member_var should NOT have been declared as a member of C, in the
first place. In other words, C is a state machine with two states:
Initialized and NotInitialized, such that member_var only makes sense
in the Initialized state, and not in the other one.

Good design:

class C{

  private abstract class State{}
  private class Initialized: State{
    	public int member_var; // this variable only makes sense
                        // when C is in the Initialized state!
                        // therefore it is declared here,
                        // not inside C.
        public Initialized(int m){
             member_var = m;

  private class NotInitialized: State{}

  private int state = new NotInitialized();

  public void Init(int m){
    state = new Initialized(m);


In this latter example, member_var DOES NOT EXIST when it does make
sense. This avoid the risk that someone reads/writes it when it makes
no sense!

In the former case, there is a time when member_var exists but does
not make sense (and is not initialized). Error prone.

So by raising an error in the former case we would enforce good

Any comments?