C# LanguageStatic Classes

Static keyword

The static keyword means 2 things:

  1. This value does not change from object to object but rather changes on a class as a whole
  2. Static properties and methods don't require an instance.

public class Foo
{
    public Foo{
        Counter++;
        NonStaticCounter++;
    }

    public static int Counter { get; set; }
    public int NonStaticCounter { get; set; }
}

public class Program 
{
    static void Main(string[] args)
    {
        //Create an instance
        var foo1 = new Foo();
        Console.WriteLine(foo1.NonStaticCounter); //this will print "1"

        //Notice this next call doesn't access the instance but calls by the class name.
        Console.WriteLine(Foo.Counter); //this will also print "1"

        //Create a second instance
        var foo2 = new Foo();

        Console.WriteLine(foo2.NonStaticCounter); //this will print "1"

        Console.WriteLine(Foo.Counter); //this will now print "2"
        //The static property incremented on both instances and can persist for the whole class

    }
}

Static Classes

The "static" keyword when referring to a class has three effects:

  1. You cannot create an instance of a static class (this even removes the default constructor)
  2. All properties and methods in the class must be static as well.
  3. A static class is a sealed class, meaning it cannot be inherited.

public static class Foo
{
    //Notice there is no constructor as this cannot be an instance
    public static int Counter { get; set; }
    public static int GetCount()
    {
        return Counter;
    }
}

public class Program 
{
    static void Main(string[] args)
    {
        Foo.Counter++;
        Console.WriteLine(Foo.GetCount()); //this will print 1
        
        //var foo1 = new Foo(); 
        //this line would break the code as the Foo class does not have a constructor
    }
}

Static class lifetime

A static class is lazily initialized on member access and lives for the duration of the application domain.

void Main()
{
    Console.WriteLine("Static classes are lazily initialized");
    Console.WriteLine("The static constructor is only invoked when the class is first accessed");
    Foo.SayHi();

    Console.WriteLine("Reflecting on a type won't trigger its static .ctor");
    var barType = typeof(Bar);

    Console.WriteLine("However, you can manually trigger it with System.Runtime.CompilerServices.RuntimeHelpers");
    RuntimeHelpers.RunClassConstructor(barType.TypeHandle);
}

// Define other methods and classes here
public static class Foo
{
    static Foo()
    {
        Console.WriteLine("static Foo.ctor");
    }
    public static void SayHi()
    {
        Console.WriteLine("Foo: Hi");
    }
}
public static class Bar
{
    static Bar()
    {
        Console.WriteLine("static Bar.ctor");
    }
}