Avoiding a LINQ FirstOrDefault mishap

Written by Bill Boga

.NET’s LINQ library has extension-methods that will return a default-value if not found in a collection. These are a great time-saver if you’re not guaranteed to find a match. The usual logic looks something like this:

public class Block
    public int Id { get; set; }

var blocks = new[] { /*...many Block instantiations*/ };

var matchingBlock = blocks.FirstOrDefault(block => block.Id == 1);

if (matchingBlock != null)
    // Do the thing...

When using these extensions against nullable reference-types, that code-block works fine. But, what if…

var numbers = new[] { 0, 1, 2 };

var matchingNumber = numbers.FirstOrDefault(number => number == 3);

if (matchingNumber == null)
    // Do the thing...

And, you’re wondering why it’s not doing the thing!

I had to remind myself recently that the OrDefault-part of those methods does not mean an automatic null–it’s the default-value based on the T in the collection. In the prior case, the default-value of int is 0.

If we were to rewrite numbers as var numbers = new List<int?>() { 0, 1, 2 };, then our null-check would work as-expected.

This all equally applies to SingleOrDefault!

Published October 09, 2019 by

undefined avatar
Bill Boga Github Senior Software Developer

Suggested Reading