Pushing Data

Consider the following two pieces of code:


Although they look like they are roughly the same, they produce two very different results. The first returns an enumeration of string and the second throw’s an InvalidOperationException.

The difference stems from how C# handles the yield statement. Both methods promise to return an object which implements IEnumerable<string>. In .NET 1 and 1.1, there was no yield statement, and to return a custom object (not an array) which implemented it, you had to create an object which satisfied the IEnumerable requirements. (Remember it’s not generic, because it was created before generics were added.)

When it was added in .NET 2.0, in order to satisfy the requirements of returning an object, the C# compiler turns the method which uses yield into an object with the IEnumerable<T> interface.

(Entire generated class).

The important thing to note is that the generated class implements IDispoable, and it is responsible for disposing of the SqlConnection and SqlCommand, not the original method. This means that as the IEnumerable<string> object returns through the calling methods, nothing will dispose them until the enumeration object itself is disposed. The other method does not do this, because the SqlConnection is injected and the using statement is outside of the GetNamesWithConnection’s control (and hence it is not included in the generated class the GetNamesWithConnection converts to). Once the enumerator returns from the method responsible for disposing the SqlConnection (in the above example InjectSqlConnection), the using statement’s scope exits and the SqlConnection’s Dispose method fires.

How to fix the InjectSqlConnection method?

The easiest solution is to ensure that all operations performed on the IEnumerable object which it retrieves should occur before the using statement completes and SqlConnection.Dispose fires. In many scenarios this isn’t and issue, but in the following example this isn’t a possibility.

This method is from a class which inherits the API Controller where the method’s job isn’t to act upon the data, but return the it so the invoking method can serialize and send it out the response stream.

In this scenario, the first option would be to take the the SqlConnection out of the using statement, and let the Garbage Collector (eventually) dispose of it. This is a bad idea, and really isn’t a viable solution. Not disposing of SqlConnections will eventually use up all the available ones in the connection pool.

The second option would be to manually enumerate through the returned enumeration.
change this:

to this:

This is a possible solution, but it is a lot more work on the part of writing the code (since you would have to do this to each method returning data) and more work on the part of the system (keeping track multiple enumerators (both the original and the new), etc.). It’s a viable option, but it’s not ideal.

A third option would be to convert the returned enumeration to an object which doesn’t require a SqlConnection to operate such as an Array or a List.

This works, because the ToList() method creates a List object which implements IEnumerable and the ToList method loops through the contents of the enumeration adding each item to the list. Lists (and Arrays) exist purely in memory and is why the SqlConnectionyield return statement which only loads the record it needs at that moment (this is referred to as Lazy Loading).


The ApiController object has a property named Request which returns an object of type HttpRequestMessage. This object has a method named RegisterForDispose which returns void and takes in an IDisposable object. Any object passed into this method will be disposed once the current request finishes which is after the contents have been added to the response stream.

Encasing the SqlConnection in a using statement no longer becomes necessary to ensure it gets disposed. This allows the SqlConnection’s creation and registration to dispose to be abstracted into it’s own method. As long as the system retrieves all connections from this method, it will be impossible to leave a connection undisposed.

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