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C#: Iterator

Iterator

Iterator is a behavioral design pattern that allows sequential traversal through a complex data structure without exposing its internal details.

Thanks to the Iterator, clients can go over elements of different collections in a similar fashion using a single iterator interface.

Learn more about Iterator

Application of the pattern in C#

Complexity:

Popularity:

Usage examples: The pattern is very common in C# code. Many frameworks and libraries use it to provide a standard way for traversing their collections.

Identification: Iterator is easy to recognize by the navigation methods (such as next, previous and others). Client code that uses iterators might not have direct access to the collection being traversed.

Example: Conceptual Example

This example illustrates the structure of the Iterator design pattern. It focuses on answering these questions:

  • What classes does it consists of?
  • What roles do these classes play?
  • In what way the elements of the pattern are related?

Program.cs: Conceptual Example

using System;
using System.Collections;
using System.Collections.Generic;

namespace RefactoringGuru.DesignPatterns.Iterator.Conceptual
{
    abstract class Iterator : IEnumerator
    {
        object IEnumerator.Current => Current();

        // Returns the key of the current element
        public abstract int Key();
		
        // Returns the current element
        public abstract object Current();
		
        // Move forward to next element
        public abstract bool MoveNext();
		
        // Rewinds the Iterator to the first element
        public abstract void Reset();
    }

    abstract class IteratorAggregate : IEnumerable
    {
        // Returns an Iterator or another IteratorAggregate for the implementing
        // object.
        public abstract IEnumerator GetEnumerator();
    }

    // Concrete Iterators implement various traversal algorithms. These classes
    // store the current traversal position at all times.
    class AlphabeticalOrderIterator : Iterator
    {
        private WordsCollection _collection;
		
        // Stores the current traversal position. An iterator may have a lot of
        // other fields for storing iteration state, especially when it is
        // supposed to work with a particular kind of collection.
        private int _position = -1;
		
        private bool _reverse = false;

        public AlphabeticalOrderIterator(WordsCollection collection, bool reverse = false)
        {
            this._collection = collection;
            this._reverse = reverse;

            if (reverse)
            {
                this._position = collection.getItems().Count;
            }
        }
		
        public override object Current()
        {
            return this._collection.getItems()[_position];
        }

        public override int Key()
        {
            return this._position;
        }
		
        public override bool MoveNext()
        {
            int updatedPosition = this._position + (this._reverse ? -1 : 1);

            if (updatedPosition >= 0 && updatedPosition < this._collection.getItems().Count)
            {
                this._position = updatedPosition;
                return true;
            }
            else
            {
                return false;
            }
        }
		
        public override void Reset()
        {
            this._position = this._reverse ? this._collection.getItems().Count - 1 : 0;
        }
    }

    // Concrete Collections provide one or several methods for retrieving fresh
    // iterator instances, compatible with the collection class.
    class WordsCollection : IteratorAggregate
    {
        List<string> _collection = new List<string>();
		
        bool _direction = false;
        
        public void ReverseDirection()
        {
            _direction = !_direction;
        }
		
        public List<string> getItems()
        {
            return _collection;
        }
		
        public void AddItem(string item)
        {
            this._collection.Add(item);
        }
		
        public override IEnumerator GetEnumerator()
        {
            return new AlphabeticalOrderIterator(this, _direction);
        }
    }

    class Program
    {
        static void Main(string[] args)
        {
            // The client code may or may not know about the Concrete Iterator
            // or Collection classes, depending on the level of indirection you
            // want to keep in your program.
            var collection = new WordsCollection();
            collection.AddItem("First");
            collection.AddItem("Second");
            collection.AddItem("Third");

            Console.WriteLine("Straight traversal:");

            foreach (var element in collection)
            {
                Console.WriteLine(element);
            }

            Console.WriteLine("\nReverse traversal:");

            collection.ReverseDirection();

            foreach (var element in collection)
            {
                Console.WriteLine(element);
            }
        }
    }
}

Output.txt: Output

Straight traversal:
First
Second
Third

Reverse traversal:
Third
Second
First