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Weak Event

Event handlers are often source of memory leaks in .NET. The reason is that the standard .NET event implementation holds a strong reference to the delegates registered as event handlers, which, in turn, hold a strong reference to the event client. As a result, event clients are not garbage collected as long as the event source is alive unless the event client delegate is unregistered from the event. Junior developers are often unaware of this reality, which is why this is a frequent cause of memory leaks.

The WeakEventAttribute aspect solves this problem by changing the implementation of the events to which it is applied. Instead of holding a strong reference to the delegates, a weak event holds only a weak reference, and therefore does not prevent the event client from being garbage collected. The WeakEventAttribute aspect also ensures that delegates of an instance method are not collected until the instance itself is alive.

This topic contains the following sections:

Making an event a weak event

To turn event into a weak event:

  1. Add a reference to the PostSharp.Patterns.Model package to your project.

  2. Add a reference to the PostSharp.Patterns.Model namespace to your file.

  3. Add the WeakEventAttribute custom attribute to your event.

Classes consuming weak events can register events as usual and do not need to take care of unregistering the event handler, unless the event handler needs to be unregistered before then end of the consuming class lifetime. It is not necessary to implement IDisposable to unregister the event handlers because this is automatically done during garbage collection.

Example

The following code snippet shows a weak event named MyEvent and an event client named MyEventClient. Note that the MyEventClient does not need to take care of unregistering the OnMyEvent event handler.

C#
using PostSharp.Patterns.Model;

static class MyEventSource
{
   [WeakEvent]
   public static event EventHandler MyEvent;
}

class MyEventClient
{

  public MyEventClient()
  {
     MyEventSource.MyEvent += OnMyEvent;
  }

  public void OnMyEvent(object sender, EventArgs e)
  {
      Console.WriteLine("Oops!");
  }

}
Making all events weak events

Since there are very few situations that you would actually not want an event to be a weak event, you may want to make all events of a project weak events by default. You can achieve this using aspect multicasting. See Adding Aspects to Multiple Declarations for details.

The following code snippet makes all events of the current assembly weak events:

C#
[assembly: PostSharp.Patterns.Model.WeakEvent]

The following code snippet makes all events of a specific namespace weak events:

C#
[assembly: PostSharp.Patterns.Model.WeakEvent(AttributeTargetTypes="OurCompany.OurApplication.ViewModel.*")]