Generic Types

A generic type is one programming construct that adapts to do the same operations for many data types. When you write generic code, it is not necessary to write different implementations for each possible data type.

Example generic class

Class Container[T]
    Method Add(item As T)
        Dim temp As T
    End Method
End Class

Permitted generic constructs

You can make and use generic classes, structures, traits, and procedures. The ViviFire standard libraries supply many frequently used generic constructs that you can use in your code.

Although procedures are not types, you can make and use generic procedures. See Generic Procedures for more information.

How generic types help

You use generic types to declare some different programming elements, where each one operates on the specified data types. The alternatives to a generic type are:

Generic types are better than these alternatives because of:


You must try to write The code for a generic construct as disconnected from types as possible. But some functions can be necessary to have for data types supplied to your generic construct. For example, to compare two items to sort them, their data type must implement the trait Compare. To do this, you can add a constraint for the type parameter.

Example of a constraint

The example that follows shows a skeleton of a generic class with a constraint. The constraint makes it necessary for the type argument to implement Compare.

Class GenericClass[T] Where T Does Compare
    ' ...
End Class

If you try to use GenericClass with a type that does not implement Compare, then the compiler gives an error.

Types of constraints

Your constraint can specify the requirements that follow:

If you must specify more than one requirement, then you can put a comma between each one. But if a constraint makes a line of code too long, then you can divide it into many constraints. you can use Where again and again, each on a different line.

But the shortest constraint can use a type parameter a minimum of one time. Then you must put the requirements in the sequence given above.

See Where Clause (Generics) for more information.

Examples of many constraints

The examples that follow show a skeleton of a generic class with three constraints on the type parameter. The type argument must (1) be a reference type, (2) implement Compare, and (3) have a constructor without parameters. All three examples are equivalent.

Example 1 uses the shortest construct with Where on the same line as the start of the class.

Class MyClass[T] Where T Is Class Does Compare Constructor()
    ' ...
End Class

Example 2 uses the construct with commas between requirements all on one line in the class body.

Class MyClass[T]
    Where T Is Class, T Does Compare, T Constructor()
    ' ...
End Class

Example 3 uses three different lines that start with Where in the class body. We wrote the requirements in a sequence different from the other examples.

Class MyClass[T]
    Where T Constructor()
    Where T Does Compare
    Where T Is Class
    ' ...
End Class

See also