Events in C# with Real-Time Example

In C#, an event is a mechanism that enables a class or object to notify other classes or objects when something occurs. C# provides a built-in event framework that simplifies event handling. This framework ensures that components in a C# application can react to specific occurrences, such as user actions or system-generated signals, in a decoupled and efficient manner.

Events in C# are built on the delegate model, which provides the underpinnings for event notifications. Delegates are type-safe pointers to methods, and they enable the event provider to invoke the event handler code in the subscriber without knowing details about the handler’s implementation. This separation of concerns results in more manageable and maintainable code, as it allows different parts of a system to operate independently yet remain interconnected through well-defined event contracts.

Understanding Events in C#

In C#, events are a fundamental part of the language’s event-driven programming model, enabling objects to notify other objects when something of interest occurs.

Definition of Events

Events in C# are members of a class that are used to provide notifications. An event is declared within a class using the event keyword followed by a delegate type that specifies the kind of methods that can respond to the event. When an event occurs, it invokes methods (event handlers) that are attached to it.

Events vs. Delegates

Delegates are the foundation of events. While a delegate is a type-safe pointer to a method, an event is a mechanism that uses delegates to provide notifications. A delegate can be invoked by anyone who has access to it, whereas an event can only be triggered by the class it belongs to, ensuring more controlled event handling.

AccessDirect invocation allowedRestricted, can only be triggered by the class that declares it
PurposeHolds reference to methodsServes as a notification mechanism
FlexibilityCan point to one or multiple methodsUsually wired to multiple listeners for broadcasting information

The Role of Event Handlers

An event handler is a method that adheres to a specific signature defined by the delegate associated with an event. When an event is raised, all subscribed event handlers are called.

They carry out the necessary actions in response to the event, allowing different parts of an application to interact smoothly and efficiently. Event handlers are typically denoted by the “Handler” suffix in method names.

Create and Use Events in C#

Events in C# are a way for a class to provide notifications to clients of that class when something of interest occurs. The syntactical essence of events involves declaring, subscribing, raising, and unsubscribing from events.

Declaring a C# Event

To declare an event within a class, one must specify the event’s type with the event keyword. Typically, the type is a delegate that defines the signature of the event handler method that subscribers must implement.

public class ProcessBusinessLogic
    // Declaring an event using EventHandler delegate
    public event EventHandler ProcessCompleted;

Subscribing to an Event

Subscribing to an event means associating a method with the event. When the event is fired, the attached methods are called.

ProcessBusinessLogic pbl = new ProcessBusinessLogic();
pbl.ProcessCompleted += OnProcessCompleted; // Subscriber method

void OnProcessCompleted(object sender, EventArgs e)
    // Method to handle the event when raised

Raising an Event

Raising an event involves invoking the event within the class that declared it. It’s generally done in a method to notify the subscribers that something has occurred.

protected virtual void OnProcessCompleted(EventArgs e)
    // Raise the event in a thread-safe manner using the ?. operator
    ProcessCompleted?.Invoke(this, e);

Unsubscribing from an Event

To unsubscribe from an event, the subscriber method is detached from the event, usually when the subscriber is disposed of or no longer needs the notification.

pbl.ProcessCompleted -= OnProcessCompleted; // Unsubscribe

Advanced Event Concepts in C#

In C#, events can be customized and extended beyond basic event-handling scenarios. This section explores some of the more complex aspects of working with events, such as creating custom event accessors for fine-grained control, utilizing generic event handlers to write more flexible code, and implementing event chaining to link events together.

Custom Event Accessors

Custom event accessors in C# allow developers to define custom logic that executes when an event is subscribed to or unsubscribed from. Instead of utilizing the default add and remove keywords generated by the compiler for event accessors, one can explicitly define them. For instance:

public event EventHandler MyEvent
        // Custom add accessor logic here
        // Custom remove accessor logic here

This capability provides additional control over how event handlers are managed internally by the class defining the event.

Generic Event Handlers

Generic event handlers add flexibility to event handling in C#. By using generics, a single event handler can be reused for different event types. The EventHandler<TEventArgs> delegate is a built-in generic delegate that can be used with any type of EventArgs.

An example of declaring a generic event:

public event EventHandler<MyCustomEventArgs> MyGenericEvent;

To attach a handler to such an event:

MyGenericEvent += MyGenericEventHandler;

void MyGenericEventHandler(object sender, MyCustomEventArgs e)
    // Handler logic here

With this approach, developers can create more maintainable and reusable event-handling code.

Event Chaining

Event chaining is a technique where one event triggers another, creating a cascade of events. This is useful in scenarios where an event in one class should lead to a response in another class or set of classes, ensuring a sequence of operations is executed.

For instance, consider two separate events:

public event EventHandler FirstEvent;
public event EventHandler SecondEvent;

void OnFirstEvent()
    FirstEvent?.Invoke(this, EventArgs.Empty);
    SecondEvent?.Invoke(this, EventArgs.Empty); // Chaining to the second event

By invoking SecondEvent within the OnFirstEvent method, the events are effectively chained. This allows for composing complex behaviors with events.

Real-Time Examples of Event in C#

In C#, events are a powerful construct used to facilitate communication between objects. This section provides specific instances where events are implemented in various scenarios for real-time applications.

Implementing a Progress Reporter

In scenarios where a console application processes a batch of files, a ProgressChanged event can be used to report the current status back to the user.

One could define an event public event EventHandler<ProgressChangedEventArgs> ProgressChanged; within a class handling the file processing. As each file is processed, the event can be raised to notify subscribed entities of the progress percentage.

Building a User Interface Event System

For user interface (UI) applications, such as a Windows Forms app, events are fundamental. Consider a Button control with a Click event.

The UI framework allows developers to subscribe to this event using code such as button.Click += OnButtonClick;. When the user clicks the button, the OnButtonClick method is executed, providing real-time interactivity within the UI.

Handling Multi-threaded Scenarios with Events

Events are also essential in multi-threaded applications for signaling and communication between threads.

For instance, consider a background worker in a WPF application that performs a long-running task. It may expose an event:

public event EventHandler<RunWorkerCompletedEventArgs> RunWorkerCompleted;

Other parts of the application can subscribe to this event to be notified when the background task is finished, thus, allowing for a seamless and thread-safe way to update the UI or perform other related actions upon completion of the background work.

Best Practices for Event Handling in C#

When dealing with events in C#, one should adhere to certain best practices to ensure maintainability and readability of code.

Delegate Names: Delegates that serve as the basis for events should follow the EventHandler suffix. For instance, a processing event might use a delegate named ProcessingEventHandler.

Event Naming: Events themselves should have a name that reflects an action, such as Processed. This clearly indicates the event is triggered after an action is completed.

Method Signatures: Event handling methods should match the delegate signature and should be private if they’re not meant to be overridden or protected if they’re part of a base class used for inheritance.

Access ModifierUse Case
privateFor methods not intended for override.
protectedFor methods in base classes.

Exception Handling: Implement exception handling within event subscribers to prevent a subscriber from terminating other event subscriptions due to an unhandled exception.

Event Unsubscription: It is important to unsubscribe from events when the subscriber is destroyed or no longer requires notification to prevent memory leaks.

Lastly, one should use the EventHandler<TEventArgs> delegate provided by the .NET framework when possible, as it follows a common convention and reduces the need for custom delegate declarations. This delegate takes an object as the source of the event, and an instance of TEventArgs that contains the event data.

Common Problems and How to Avoid Them

Not Unsubscribing from Events: A common memory leak in C# occurs when developers forget to unsubscribe from events. This prevents the garbage collector from reclaiming the memory used by subscribers that are no longer needed.

  • How to Avoid: Always unsubscribe from events when the subscriber is disposed or no longer needed.

Raising Events without Checking for Subscribers: If an event is raised without any subscribers, it may result to a NullReferenceException.

  • How to Avoid: Check if the event handler is null before raising the event.
if(MyEvent != null) {
    MyEvent(this, EventArgs.Empty);

Using Events for Frequent Updates: Events are not the best choice when updates occur very frequently, as this can lead to performance issues due to the overhead of event handling.

  • How to Avoid: Use other patterns such as IObservable<T> for high-frequency updates.

Thread Safety Ignorance: Events can be raised by multiple threads concurrently, causing race conditions or unexpected behavior if not properly handled.

  • How to Avoid: Ensure thread safety by using synchronization primitives like lock, or by using thread-safe collections and patterns.

Handling Exceptions within Event Handlers: Unhandled exceptions within event handlers can cause the application to crash.

  • How to Avoid:
    • Implement try-catch blocks within event handlers.
    • Use a global exception handling strategy.
Memory LeaksUnsubscribe from events.
NullReferenceExceptionCheck for null before raising.
Performance IssuesUse IObservable<T> for frequent updates.
Thread SafetyEmploy synchronization primitives.
Unhandled ExceptionsUse try-catch and global handlers.

Observing these practices helps maintain efficient and error-free event handling in C# applications.

Event Handling in Asynchronous Programming

Asynchronous programming in C# allows for more responsive applications by not blocking the main thread during time-consuming tasks. In asynchronous operations, events play a crucial role to notify when certain actions are completed.

Developers often use the async and await keywords to implement asynchronous methods. They can wire up events that will trigger once the asynchronous operation has finished. For instance:

public event EventHandler<DataReceivedEventArgs> DataReceived;

public async Task ProcessDataAsync()
    var data = await GetDataAsync();

protected virtual void OnDataReceived(string data)
    DataReceived?.Invoke(this, new DataReceivedEventArgs(data));

In this snippet:

  1. An event named DataReceived is declared with a custom EventArgs class.
  2. The asynchronous method ProcessDataAsync retrieves data and then raises the DataReceived event.
  3. The OnDataReceived method checks if there are any subscribers and, if so, invokes the event with the obtained data.

Best Practices:

  • Ensure Thread Safety: When events are raised, verify if the event handlers are thread-safe because multiple threads might try to handle the event simultaneously.
  • Exception Handling: Implement try-catch blocks within event handlers to gracefully manage exceptions that might occur during asynchronous operations.


  • Event handlers in asynchronous methods should not directly modify the UI or shared resources without synchronization.
  • It’s important to unsubscribe from events after use to avoid memory leaks, especially in long-lived objects.

By following these guidelines, event handling in asynchronous programming can be effectively managed, leading to robust and efficient applications.

Events in .NET Framework vs .NET Core vs .NET 5/6

Events in the context of the .NET ecosystem are a way for objects to communicate with each other. They enable an object to notify other objects when something of interest occurs.

The underlying mechanism for events is largely consistent across .NET Framework, .NET Core, and .NET 5/6, but there are some distinctions worth noting, particularly in how they are implemented and supported in different .NET environments.

Feature.NET Framework.NET Core.NET 5/6
Event ImplementationDelegates and event handlersDelegates and event handlersDelegates and event handlers
Async SupportBeginInvoke, EndInvoke patternTask-based asynchronous pattern (async/await)Task-based asynchronous pattern (async/await)
PerformanceStandard performanceImproved performance due to runtime optimizationsFurther performance improvements
  • In the .NET Framework, events are typically implemented using delegate types to reference methods that are called when the event is raised. An asynchronous pattern involving BeginInvoke and EndInvoke is used for handling events asynchronously.
  • .NET Core retains the delegate-based event model. However, it emphasizes the task-based asynchronous pattern (TAP), which leverages async and await for asynchronous event handling. .NET Core events are designed to work across different platforms, including Windows, macOS, and Linux.
  • .NET 5/6 continues the approach of .NET Core and unifies the .NET platforms. It provides a consistent developer experience across different operating systems. .NET 5/6 further enhances the performance of event-driven applications and fully supports the task-based asynchronous pattern.

I hope now you have an idea of events in C# with the examples provided above.

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