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You might often encounter null reference exceptions in your applications if null checks aren’t appropriately implemented. A null reference exception will abruptly terminate the execution of your program unless it is properly handled in your code. The null object pattern solves this problem, giving you an elegant way to handle null reference exceptions in your code.

This article discusses how we can implement the null object pattern in C# with relevant code examples wherever applicable. To work with the code examples provided in this article, you should have Visual Studio 2022 installed in your system. If you don’t already have a copy, you can download Visual Studio 2022 here.

Create a console application project in Visual Studio

First off, let’s create a .NET Core console application project in Visual Studio. Assuming Visual Studio 2022 is installed in your system, follow the steps outlined below to create a new .NET Core console application project.

  1. Launch the Visual Studio IDE.
  2. Click on “Create new project.”
  3. In the “Create new project” window, select “Console App (.NET Core)” from the list of templates displayed.
  4. Click Next.
  5. In the “Configure your new project” window shown next, specify the name and location for the new project.
  6. Click Next.
  7. In the “Additional information” window, choose “.NET 7.0 (Standard Term Support)” as the Framework version you would like to use.
  8. Click Create.

We’ll use this .NET Core console application project to work with the null object design pattern in the subsequent sections of this article.

What is the null object pattern?

The null object pattern is a behavioral software design pattern that is used to encapsulate the handling of null values in an object-oriented programming language. It is used to help improve code readability and maintainability by eliminating the need for explicit null checks.

The null object pattern defines an abstract class that represents a null value. A concrete subclass is then created that inherits from the abstract class and provides concrete implementations for all of the methods. This concrete subclass is then used throughout the code base whenever a null value needs to be represented.

Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.


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