Why can't an expression tree contain a named argument specification?

c# c#-4.0 expression-trees

Question

Using AutoMapper, I hit a place where a named argument would've fit very nicely:

.ForMember(s => s.MyProperty, opt => opt.MapFrom(s => BuildMyProperty(s, isAdvanced: false)))

But the compiler yelled at me:

An expression tree may not contain a named argument specification

So I had to revert to:

.ForMember(s => s.MyProperty, opt => opt.MapFrom(s => BuildMyProperty(s, false)))

Does anyone know why the compiler disallows named arguments in this situation?

Accepted Answer

Consider the following:

static int M() { Console.Write("M"); return 1; }
static int N() { Console.Write("N"); return 2; }
static int Q(int m, int n) { return m + n; }
...
Func<int> f = ()=>Q(n : N(), m: M());
Expression<Func<int>> x = ()=>Q(n : N(), m: M());
Func<int> fx = x.Compile();
Console.WriteLine(f());
Console.WriteLine(fx());

You agree I hope that the last two lines must do exactly the same thing, right? Which is to print NM3.

Now, what expression tree library calls would you like the expression tree conversion to generate that ensure this? There are none! We are therefore faced with the following choices:

  1. Implement the feature in the expression tree library. Add a transformation in the expression tree lowering engine that preserves the order of execution of the named arguments. Implement code in the Compile method that takes the execution order into account.
  2. Make x = ()=>Q(n : N(), m: M()); actually be implemented as x = ()=>Q(M(), N()); and be incompatible with the non-expression-tree version.
  3. Disallow named arguments in expression trees. Implement an error message to that effect.

(1) is nice, but expensive. (2) is a non-starter; we can't in good conscience introduce this kind of "gotcha". (3) is cheap but irritating.

We chose (3).



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