F#: Using C# extension methods
An interesting thing I noticed about referencing C# libraries from F# is that you can’t access C# extension methods on generic open types in the same way that you would be able to if you were using the library from C# code.
I came across this problem when playing around with the Rhino Mocks framework in some F# code.
I wrote a simple test to see whether I could get an expectation to work correctly, without paying any regard for the fact that you can’t use all C# extension methods in the same way as you can from C# code!
open Xunit open Rhino.Mocks type IFoo = abstract Bar : string -> string type Foo() = interface IFoo with member x.Bar (value) = value type Baz(foo: IFoo) = member x.Barry(value) = foo.Bar(value) |> ignore [<Fact>] let my_mocking_test () = let foo = MockRepository.GenerateMock<IFoo>() foo.Expect(fun f -> f.Bar("random")).Return("someValue") let baz = new Baz(foo) baz.Barry("random") |> ignore foo.VerifyAllExpectations();
That code doesn’t compile with lines 18 and 23 being the offending ones.
If we want to use Rhino Mocks' extension methods in our F# code we need to call them specifically. With a little exploration through Rhino Mocks I came up with the following code.
... [<Fact>] let my_mocking_test () = let foo = MockRepository.GenerateMock<IFoo>() (RhinoMocksExtensions.Expect<IFoo, string>(foo, fun f -> f.Bar("random"))).Return("someValue") |> ignore let baz = new Baz(foo) baz.Barry("random") |> ignore RhinoMocksExtensions.VerifyAllExpectations(foo)
It doesn’t read particularly fluently although it does work. I imagine an equivalent extension method could be written in F# to get around the problem although I ended up not needing to do any mocking after I first wrote this code so I haven’t looked into how to do that yet.
Update * I’ve updated this post to point out that this problem occurs when trying to use C# extension methods on open generic types rather than all C# extension methods, something which Matthew Podwysocki points out in the comments.
I had originally thought that you couldn’t use any C# extension methods since they didn’t show up on the Intellisense drop down in Visual Studio and I assumed they were just a language feature of C# 3.0.
As it turns out you can get the Intellisense by importing the 'System.Linq' namespace although if you want to use a C# extension method you will need to ensure the type has been evalualted which can sometimes mean you need to put brackets around the code.
[1..5]. (* No extension methods will show up *) ([1..5]). (* All the extension methods that can be applied to IEnumerable show up *)
Under the covers the same thing seems to be happening as if we called the extension methods from C# code. Scott Hanselman has a nice post which explains how this works.
About the author
I'm currently working on real-time user-facing analytics with Apache Pinot at StarTree. I publish short 5 minute videos showing how to solve data problems on YouTube @LearnDataWithMark. I previously worked on graph analytics at Neo4j, where I also I co-authored the O'Reilly Graph Algorithms Book with Amy Hodler.