#898 – Using Code Snippets to Implement a Custom Exception Type

Visual Studio includes a code snippet that makes it easier to implement a custom exception type.

To add a custom exception type using a code snippet, start by adding a new class file to your project and naming it to match your exception type.




In the new class, delete the class definition, so that all that remains in the file is a namespace definition.



Create a new blank line within the namespace definition.  Begin typing the word “exception” and look for the icon in the Intellisense dropdown that indicates a code snippet.



Press the TAB key twice so that the code snippet is inserted.  The definition of a new class that derives from Exception will be inserted.



While the name of the new class is highlighted, type the name of your new exception type and press TAB.  The new exception type name will be inserted where appropriate.




#897 – Rules for Creating a Custom Exception Type

The basic guidelines for defining your own custom exception types are as follows:

  • Derive from one of the following:
  • End the name of your type with “Exception”  (e.g. InvalidDogBarkException)
  • Mark your exception type as Serializable
  • Define the following constructors:
    • public MyException()
    • public MyException(string message) : base(message)
    • public MyException(string message, Exception inner) : base(message, inner)
    • public MyException(SerializationInfo info, StreamingContext context) : base(info, context)
  • Consider adding custom data:
    • Add one or more custom properties
    • Add one or more constructor that accept values for the custom properties

Click here for a full example.



#895 – Catching a Custom Exception Type

You might define a custom exception if you want to add custom data to an exception that you throw or if you just want calling code to be able to check for your specific exception.

In the example below, we’ve created a custom exception type, DogBarkException, that we throw when we have a problem in the Dog.Bark method.  The exception contains all of the normal data found in an instance of Exception, as well as additional information about the dog and the attempted bark.

                Dog d = new Dog("Buster", 5);
                d.Bark(BarkSound.Woof, 12);
            catch (DogBarkException xx)
                Console.WriteLine("Dog {0}, aged {1}, couldn't bark",
                    xx.DogName, xx.DogAge);
                Console.WriteLine("  Attempted {0} bark, {1} times",
                    xx.BarkSound, xx.BarkNumTimes);

If we set a breakpoint within the catch block, we can examine the various properties of the DogBarkException object.


#894 – Creating a Custom Exception Type with Custom Data

You might create a custom exception type that doesn’t extend the base Exception type.  But quite often it’s useful to add some additional data that is specific to your exception type.

In the example below, we create a new exception type that stores two additional fields related to the Dog.Bark operation that failed.

    public enum BarkSound { Yip, Arf, Woof };

    public class DogBarkException : Exception
        public DogBarkException()

        public DogBarkException(string message)
            : base(message)

        public DogBarkException(string message, Exception innerException)
            : base(message, innerException)

        public BarkSound Sound { get; set; }
        public int NumTimes { get; set; }

        public DogBarkException(string message, BarkSound sound, int numTimes)
            : base(message)
            Sound = sound;
            NumTimes = numTimes;

We can now throw a new instance of this exception type as follows:

            if ((barkSound == BarkSound.Woof) && (numTimes > 5))
                throw new DogBarkException("Dogs can't woof more than 3 times in a row", barkSound, numTimes);