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When to use 'static' for a method?

Hi,
Is there a general rule to use 'static' on a class member? It seems
uneccessary to have to create an instance of an object just to use it's
methods where declaring something as static makes more sense.

Thanks
Nov 16 '05 #1
3 21803
It depends on the problem you are trying to solve, like all computer related
constructs. There is no rule, just whether or not it makes sense for your
particular problem.
"Dave" <Da**@discussions.microsoft.com> wrote in message
news:71**********************************@microsof t.com...
Hi,
Is there a general rule to use 'static' on a class member? It seems
uneccessary to have to create an instance of an object just to use it's
methods where declaring something as static makes more sense.

Thanks

Nov 16 '05 #2
Dave wrote:
Hi,
Is there a general rule to use 'static' on a class member? It seems
uneccessary to have to create an instance of an object just to use it's
methods where declaring something as static makes more sense.

Instance methods are instance methods because they rely on the state of
the specific object instance. Instance methods are tied to a particular
instance because the behavior that the method invokes relies upon the
state of that particular instance.

When you declare a method as static, you define that method as being a
class method. A class method applies to the class as opposed to any
particular instance. The behavior instigated by a class method does not
rely on the state of a particular instance. In fact, a static method
cannot rely on an instance's state since static methods lack access to
this reference. Instead, the behavior of a class method either depends
on a state that all objects share at the class level, or is independent
of any state at all.

If a method relies on an object instance's state it should be an
instance methods. If a method is general for all or no instances of a
class, and does not rely on the object state, it should be a static method.
Instance methods are most commonly used. However static methods are very
useful for utility and factory classes amogst many other uses.

Anders Norås
http://dotnetjunkies.com/weblog/anoras/
Nov 16 '05 #3
Your question almost reads like the correct answer: if a method _could_
be static (in other words you make it static and compiler doesn't whine
that it can't find some instance variables any more), then it probably
should be. There are reasons why a method needs to be an instance
method even though it doesn't use any instance members, but it's much
more common that a method that doesn't access object state should be
static, because, as you pointed out, it's unnecessary to create an
object instance for no other reason than to call a method and then
throw away the object.

So what are the exceptions? They have to do with polymorphism. Look at
the Strategy pattern in the Design Patterns book: this is an example in
which your object may have no state (no member variables) at all, but
all of your methods may be instance (non-static) methods, because you
want to take advantage of inheritance and polymorphism.

Nov 16 '05 #4

This discussion thread is closed

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