Coding Guidelines

These guidelines are adopted from Brad Adams with some changes. The attatched file contains formatting settings for the VS 2008 formatting component, set to follow those of these guidelines that it can implement.

1. Introduction

First, read the .NET Framework Design Guidelines. Almost all naming conventions, casing rules, etc., are spelled out in this document. Unlike the Design Guidelines document, you should treat this document as a set of suggested guidelines. These generally do not effect the customer view so they are not required.

2. Style Guidelines

2.1 Tabs & Indenting

Tab characters (\0x09) should not be used in code. All indentation should be done with 4 space characters.

2.2 Bracing

Open braces should always be at the beginning of the line after the statement that begins the block. Contents of the brace should be indented by 4 spaces. For example:
if (someExpression)

“case” statements should be indented from the switch statement like this:
switch (someExpression) 

   case 0:

   case 1:

   case 2: 
         int n = 1;

Braces should never be considered optional. Even for single statement blocks, you should always use braces. This increases code readability and maintainability.

for (int i=0; i<100; i++) { DoSomething(i); }

2.3 Single line statements

Single line statements can have braces that begin and end on the same line.

public class Foo
   int bar;

   public int Bar
      get { return bar; }
      set { bar = value; }


All control structures (if, while, for, etc.) should use braces.

2.4 Commenting

Comments should be used to describe intention, algorithmic overview, and/or logical flow. It would be ideal, if from reading the comments alone, someone other than the author could understand a function’s intended behavior and general operation. While there are no minimum comment requirements and certainly some very small routines need no commenting at all, it is hoped that most routines will have comments reflecting the programmer’s intent and approach.
2.4.1 Copyright notice
Each file should start with a copyright notice. To avoid errors in doc comment builds, you don’t want to use triple-slash doc comments, but using XML makes the comments easy to replace in the future. Final text will vary by product (you should contact legal for the exact text), but should be similar to:
// <copyright file="ContainerControl.cs" company="Microsoft">
//     Copyright (c) Microsoft Corporation.  All rights reserved.
// </copyright>
2.4.2 Documentation Comments
All methods should use XML doc comments. For internal dev comments, the <devdoc> tag should be used.
public class Foo 

/// <summary>Public stuff about the method</summary>
/// <param name=”bar”>What a neat parameter!</param>
/// <devdoc>Cool internal stuff!</devdoc>
public void MyMethod(int bar) { … }


However, it is common that you would want to move the XML documentation to an external file – for that, use the <include> tag.
public class Foo 

   /// <include file='doc\Foo.uex' path='docs/doc[@for="Foo.MyMethod"]/*' />
   public void MyMethod(int bar) { … }


2.4.3 Comment Style
The // (two slashes) style of comment tags should be used for single-line comments, for comments spanning multiple-lines use multi-line comments /.../. Where ever possible, place comments above the code instead of beside it. Here are some examples:
// This is required for WebClient to work through the proxy
GlobalProxySelection.Select = new WebProxy("http://itgproxy");

/* Create object to access Internet resources
 * We might need some more comments
WebClient myClient = new WebClient();

Comments can be placed at the end of a line when space allows:
public class SomethingUseful 
    private int          itemHash;            // instance member
    private static bool  hasDoneSomething;    // static member

2.5 Spacing

Spaces improve readability by decreasing code density. Here are some guidelines for the use of space characters within code:

Do use a single space after a comma between function arguments.
Right: Console.In.Read(myChar, 0, 1);
Wrong: Console.In.Read(myChar,0,1);
Do not use a space after the parenthesis and function arguments
Right: CreateFoo(myChar, 0, 1)
Wrong: CreateFoo( myChar, 0, 1 )
Do not use spaces between a function name and parenthesis.
Right: CreateFoo()
Wrong: CreateFoo ()
Do not use spaces inside brackets.
Right: x = dataArrayindex;
Wrong: x = dataArrayindex;
Do use a single space before flow control statements
Right: while (x == y)
Wrong: while(x==y)
Do use a single space before and after comparison operators
Right: if (x == y)
Wrong: if (x==y)

2.6 Naming

Follow all .NET Framework Design Guidelines for both internal and external members. Highlights of these include:

Do not use Hungarian notation
Do not use a prefix for member variables (, m, s_, etc.). If you want to distinguish between local and member variables you should use “this.” in C# and “Me.” in VB.NET.
Do use camelCasing for member variables
Do use camelCasing for parameters
Do use camelCasing for local variables
Do use PascalCasing for function, property, event, and class names
Do prefix interfaces names with “I”
Do not prefix enums, classes, or delegates with any letter
The reasons to extend the public rules (no Hungarian, no prefix for member variables, etc.) is to produce a consistent source code appearance. In addition a goal is to have clean readable source. Code legibility should be a primary goal.

2.7 Naming Conventions

2.7.1 Interop Classes
Classes that are there for interop wrappers (DllImport statements) should follow the naming convention below:

NativeMethods – No suppress unmanaged code attribute, these are methods that can be used anywhere because a stack walk will be performed.
UnsafeNativeMethods – Has suppress unmanaged code attribute. These methods are potentially dangerous and any caller of these methods must do a full security review to ensure that the usage is safe and protected as no stack walk will be performed.
SafeNativeMethods – Has suppress unmanaged code attribute. These methods are safe and can be used fairly safely and the caller isn’t needed to do full security reviews even though no stack walk will be performed.
class NativeMethods 
   private NativeMethods() {}

   internal static extern void FormatHardDrive(string driveName);

class UnsafeNativeMethods 
   private UnsafeNativeMethods() {}

   internal static extern void CreateFile(string fileName);

class SafeNativeMethods 
   private SafeNativeMethods() {}

   internal static extern void MessageBox(string text);

All interop classes must be private, and all methods must be internal. In addition a private constructor should be provided to prevent instantiation.

2.8 File Organization

Source files should contain only one public type, although multiple internal classes are allowed
Source files should be given the name of the public class in the file
Directory names should follow the namespace for the class
For example, I would expect to find the public class “System.Windows.Forms.Control” in “System\Windows\Forms\Control.cs”…

Classes member should be alphabetized, and grouped into sections (Fields, Constructors, Properties, Events, Methods, Private interface implementations, Nested types) and placed within a region with the proper name
Using statements should be outside the namespace declaration.
using System;

namespace MyNamespace 
public class MyClass : IFoo 

      // fields
      #region Fields
      int foo;

      // constructors
      #region Constructors
      public MyClass() { … }

      // properties
      #region Properties
      public int Foo { get { … } set { … } }

      // events
      #region Events
      public event EventHandler FooChanged { add { … } remove { … } }

      // methods
      #region Methods
      void DoSomething() { … }
      void FindSomethind() { … }

//private interface implementations
   #region IFoo Members
   void IFoo.DoSomething() { DoSomething(); }

// nested types
   #region Nested Types
   class NestedType { … }


2.9 Line Length

Generally code lines should not exceed 80-110 characters. This improves readability, if lines appear to exceed 110 characters, for example where calling a function with multiple arguments the line should end with a comma "," before the carrage return and the following line should be indented four spaces more than the previous line.
    CallingSomeMethodWithManyParameters(arg1, arg2,
        arg3, arg4, arg5, arg6);

Last edited Mar 1, 2008 at 8:53 PM by KjartanThor, version 2


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