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trycatch in .NET 2.0 - Part 2

As I pointed out in a previous entry, try{}catch{} works differently in .NET 2.0 as it does in .NET 1.x. In 2.0, non-exception "throwables" are wrapped in a RuntimeWrappedException which can be caught by try{}catch(Exception ex){}, while, to catch then in .NET 1.x, you were required to use try{}catch{}. This led me to wonder 1) how does this work? and 2) is there even a purpose for try{}catch{} anymore?

So I started my research by... well, passing the buck, or going to the source, depending on your view on things. The first thing I did was ask Brad Abrams if he had some insights about this. He then forwarded me to Jonathan Keljo who I guess then forwarded me to Joe Duffy...sheesh what a line up! The best of the best of the best right there! Goodness, I feel like an ant...

Anyhow... here's the thing. Joe affirmed that there are at least two purposes for try{}catch{} in .NET 2.0

Here are his exact words...

(1) If your assembly doesn't have "wrapping" turned on;

(2) If you don't care to access the exception information via a variable. This can help to reduce the temptation to accidentally do a catch(Exception e){ /*...*/; throw e; } when you meant to do catch { /*...*/ throw; }.

OK cool, now what about the mechanics? Joe explains that the wrapping of RuntimeWrapperException around non-exception throwables is due to the fact that C# and VB auto opt-in all assemblies to what they call "the wrapping plan". This means there is a RuntimeCompatibilityAttribute(...) on the assembly where, in this case, WrapNonExceptionThrows=true is set. When this is the case all non-System.Exception "exceptions" get wrapped into a RuntimeWrappedException, which, as Joe points out of course does inherit from System.Exception. Conversely, if WrapNonExceptionThrows=false is set, then there is no magical wrapping.

Let's see this all in action. But before we do, last time I wrote about this I forgot to what mention happens when you compile the below code (this is the same code from the previous blog entry about this topic)

// ThrowerHarness.cs
namespace ThrowerExample
    class ThrowerHarness
        static void Main(string[] args) {
            try {
                Thrower.ThrowException( );
            catch (System.Exception ex) {
                System.Console.WriteLine("System.Exception error: " + ex.Message);
            catch {
                System.Console.WriteLine("Non System.Exception based error.");

            try {
                Thrower.ThrowString( );
            catch (System.Exception ex) {
                System.Console.WriteLine("System.Exception error: " + ex.Message);
            catch {
                System.Console.WriteLine("Non System.Exception based error.");

Compiling this code actually gives the following warnings...

throwerlib.cs(16,7): warning CS1058: A previous catch clause already catches all
        exceptions. All non-exceptions thrown will be wrapped in a
throwerlib.cs(29,7): warning CS1058: A previous catch clause already catches all
        exceptions. All non-exceptions thrown will be wrapped in a

As you can see, we know at compile that try{}catch(Exception ex){} will grab the exceptions.

Here's the IL we are using, which contains the Thrower class and is referenced by the C# application.

// ThrowerLib.il
.assembly ThrowerLib { }

.class public Thrower {
    .method static public void ThrowException( ) {
        ldstr "ThrowException exception from the IL world!"
        newobj instance void [mscorlib]System.Exception::.ctor(string)

    .method static public void ThrowString( ) {
        ldstr "Weird exception!"

Of course, there's our command syntax...

ilasm /t:dll ThrowerLib.il
csc Thrower.cs /r:ThrowerLib.dll

After a successful assembly and compilation, running this application gives the following output...

System.Exception error: ThrowException exception from the IL world!
System.Exception error: An object that does not derive from System.Exception has been wrapped in a RuntimeWrappedException.

Now, what about what Joe was saying about the RuntimeCompatibilityAttribute? Well, if we were to tack the following onto our existing class, we would get absolutely no warnings. Pretty cool...

using System.Runtime.CompilerServices;
[assembly: RuntimeCompatibility(WrapNonExceptionThrows = false)]

Not only that, but here's the output as we would expect.

System.Exception error: ThrowException exception from the IL world!
Non System.Exception based error.

As you can see it did not wrap the exception. So, now, the picture of how things work and how to modify them is a bit more complete.

You can download the code for this entry by the link below.

Joe Duffy also has an explanation of this, although his is from the Beta 2 era (I only see one change -- WrapNonClsExceptions -> WrapNonExceptionThrows; but there may be more). Here is his article.

Indigo Girl

OK, everyone interested in WCF needs to stop what they are doing and head on over to http://www.thatindigogirl.com/. Michele has posted chapters to her up amazing, soon-to-be-released WCF book up there. Not just that, but there are a few things that really impress me.

First off, she has to be my new technology role model (move over Brad Abrams and Andrew Trolsen) as she to be the highest ranking MVP in the world. Sheesh, just go look at her profile at http://www.idesign.net/.

Secondly, she's probably the best writer I've ever read. Picky doesn't even begin to describe me. If I don't consider the author absolutely outstanding, I don't bother flipping the pages. She is one of the very few people I can actually put up with. Her bypassing of the silly Hello World example for a more useful one was very respectable and it demonstrated to me that she wants to get right to the point (in turn this shows technical security; insecure writers have SO padding and PCness!)

Third, she seems to be a bottomless pit of powerful and useful training. Today was the first time I read her work and in the first 30 pages of her book I was able to overcome a load of WCF obstacles I was hitting with the go-live version.

Fourth, she has a very beautiful website. Not that she did it, but it does show that she cares about her environment. It rather bothers me when my fellow architects feel the need to go all hardcore and boring on me. She seems to be immune to that. Um...yes, I rate my favorite architects by more than their technical skills!

I swore to only buy book from Abrams and Troelsen, but I'm going to pre-order her book...something I've never done before. I'm extremely impressed with her work. Seriously, go check her blog, website, and book out!

Brainbench C# Fundamentals Technical Editor

What a week... I finally finished my gig as Brainbench technical editor (they called it an exam "cleaner") for the C# Fundamentals exam. Apparently they were extremely impressed with my work. Where others write a small comment line, I would write a page or so about the question and the answers citing the ECMA standard and anally explaining the improper wording of something.

I'm also rather kicking myself for turning down another gig they offered me. After I finished with this gig, I was offered the gig to write the VB.NET 2005 exam. My initial justification to myself for rejecting it was for the same reason I wouldn't write an Internet Explorer exam: it's no different than devil worship. Now I wish I took that gig, because even though the vbc.exe compiler packs a TON of useless garbage (you ever look at that stuff? A ton of odd Microsoft.VisualBasic references) in the assemblies, it's still IL! .NET is .NET! In any case, I did tell my rep there that I want to be on the list for any C# 2.0, CLR, or .NET 2.0 framework exams! We'll see!

March 2006 WCF Resources

Heres just an update on the popular resources on WCF on the web.

Some links worth looking at...

Here's a list of the video Mike has up at the MSDN Nuggets website (link above).

  • "Hello World"
  • Type Serialization
  • DataContract Serialization
  • Typed and Untyped Messages
  • Bindings
  • Message Encoding
  • Message Patterns
  • Sessions
  • Instancing
  • Concurrency
  • Exceptions
  • Transactions
  • HTTPS Transport Security
  • Message Security
  • Authorisation
  • Auditing

3D RSS XAML Demonstration

Here's a short application I wrote for a demo recently. This is a rather simple RSS application, but I created it in 3D in XAML using the February CTP of WinFX. Also, the code is self-sufficient. That is, you can use the below XAML declaration in XAMLPad.

The first thing to notice about this application is that the data is real. That is, the actually RSS information you are seeing on the screen is from a live RSS feed; this demonstrates XAML's XML data-binding capabilities. The next thing to notice is that the entire thing is on an angle. That's because this is all rendered in 3D. So, this also demonstrates using XAML in 3D. You should also notice the background. This is actually just a JPG on my website. There is no C#/VB.NET anywhere... it's all XAML. This demonstrates the power to skin objects. Finally, you should notice that the rendering has different font styles and sizes. This demonstrates how you can style controls... yes, controls. There's nothing fancy here. There isn't really a "3D TextBlock" or anything. A TextBlock is a TextBlock. I just so happen to be using it in 3D.

So, there are many things this demo demonstrates. I actually recorded a short video lesson on 3D XAML programming and I will be releasing it very soon. In the future I may have an entire series on 3D XAML programming.

      <XmlDataProvider x:Key="xmlData" Source="http://fxfeeds.mozilla.com/rss20.xml">
      <Style x:Key="rssTitle" TargetType="{x:Type TextBlock}">
        <Setter Property="FontSize" Value="24"/>
        <Setter Property="TextBlock.Foreground">
            <LinearGradientBrush StartPoint="0,0" EndPoint="0,1">
                <GradientStop Color="Blue" Offset="0"/>
                <GradientStop Color="Green" Offset="1"/>
      <Style x:Key="rssText" TargetType="{x:Type TextBlock}">
        <Setter Property="FontSize" Value="12"/>
        <Setter Property="Foreground" Value="Gray"/>
          <AmbientLight Color="White"></AmbientLight>
                Positions="-1, -1, 0  1, -1, 0  -1, 1, 0  1, 1, 0"
                TriangleIndices="2 0 1 3 2 1"
                TextureCoordinates="1 1 1 0 0 1 0 0"
                Normals="0,0,1 0,0,1 0,0,1 0,0,1">
                    <VisualBrush.Visual >
                        <ListBox ItemsSource="{Binding Source={StaticResource xmlData}, XPath=rss/channel/item}">
                            <ImageBrush ImageSource="http://davidbetz.net/kansas/xamlimage.jpg"></ImageBrush>
                                <TextBlock Text="{Binding XPath=title}" Style="{StaticResource rssTitle}"></TextBlock>
                                <TextBlock Text="{Binding XPath=description}" Style="{StaticResource rssText}"></TextBlock>

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