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Part III Essential Types
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you re looking for . Picture format strings contain special characters that tell the type s ToString method exactly how many digits to show, exactly where to place a decimal separator, exactly how many digits to place after the decimal separator, and so on . For complete information about format strings, see Formatting Types in the .NET Framework SDK . For most types, calling ToString and passing null for the format string is identical to calling ToString and passing G for the format string . In other words, objects format themselves using the General format by default . When implementing a type, choose a format that you think will be the most commonly used format; this format is the General format . By the way, the ToString method that takes no parameters assumes that the caller wants the General format . So now that format strings are out of the way, let s turn to culture information . By default, strings are formatted using the culture information associated with the calling thread . The parameterless ToString method certainly does this, and so does IFormattable s ToString if you pass null for the formatProvider parameter . Culture-sensitive information applies when you re formatting numbers (including currency, integers, floating point, percentages, dates, and times) . The Guid type has a ToString method that returns only a string representing its value . There s no need to consider a culture when generating the Guid s string because GUIDs are used for programmatic purposes only . When formatting a number, the ToString method sees what you ve passed for the formatProvider parameter . If null is passed, ToString determines the culture associated with the calling thread by reading the System.Threading.Thread.CurrentThread.CurrentCulture property . This property returns an instance of the System.Globalization.CultureInfo type . Using this object, ToString reads its NumberFormat or DateTimeFormat property, depending on whether a number or date/time is being formatted . These properties return an instance of System.Globalization.NumberFormatInfo or System.Globalization. DateTimeFormatInfo, respectively . The NumberFormatInfo type defines a bunch of properties, such as CurrencyDecimalSeparator, CurrencySymbol, NegativeSign, NumberGroupSeparator, and PercentSymbol . Likewise, the DateTimeFormatInfo type defines an assortment of properties, such as Calendar, DateSeparator, DayNames, LongDatePattern, ShortTimePattern, and TimeSeparator . ToString reads these properties when constructing and formatting a string . When calling IFormattable s ToString method, instead of passing null, you can pass a reference to an object whose type implements the IFormatProvider interface:
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public interface IFormatProvider { Object GetFormat(Type formatType); }
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14 Chars, Strings, and Working with Text
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Here s the basic idea behind the IFormatProvider interface: when a type implements this interface, it is saying that an instance of the type is able to provide culture-specific formatting information and that the culture information associated with the calling thread should be ignored . The System.Globalization.CultureInfo type is one of the very few types defined in the FCL that implements the IFormatProvider interface . If you want to format a string for, say, Vietnam, you d construct a CultureInfo object and pass that object in as ToString s formatProvider parameter . The following code obtains a string representation of a Decimal numeric value formatted as currency appropriate for Vietnam:
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Decimal price = 123.54M; String s = price.ToString("C", new CultureInfo("vi-VN")); MessageBox.Show(s);
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If you build and run this code, the message box shown in Figure 14-5 appears .
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Internally, Decimal s ToString method sees that the formatProvider argument is not null and calls the object s GetFormat method as follows:
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NumberFormatInfo nfi = (NumberFormatInfo) formatProvider.GetFormat(typeof(NumberFormatInfo));
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This is how ToString requests the appropriate number-formatting information from the (CultureInfo) object . Number types (such as Decimal) request only number-formatting information . But other types (such as DateTime) could call GetFormat like this:
DateTimeFormatInfo dtfi = (DateTimeFormatInfo) formatProvider.GetFormat(typeof(DateTimeFormatInfo));
Actually, because GetFormat s parameter can identify any type, the method is flexible enough to allow any type of format information to be requested . The types in the .NET Framework call GetFormat, requesting only number or date/time information; in the future, other kinds of formatting information could be requested .
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