Is there a *clean* way to make a read-only dependency-property reflect the value of another property?

0 votes
asked Aug 19, 2009 by giffyguy

The code below is my current solution.

If it takes you a couple minutes to figure out what this code is doing, I hear ya.

This is an ugly mess if ever there was one. I would kill to see an alternative, (but don't let that discourage you from responding... :-). Oh jeez, I even abbreviated it (substantially) by removing the converter code, and I STILL feel dyslexic when I look at this code.

A great example of what I am trying to mimic would be the FrameworkElement.ActualWidth property. You know how the ActualWidth property is calculated and reassigned, whenever the Width property changes, or whenever the control is redrawn, or whenever else? ------

From the developer's perspective, it just looks like data-binding hard-at-work.
But ActualWidth is a read-only dependency-property. Does Microsoft really have to go through this gigantic trash-hole of code to make that work? Or is there a simpler way that utilizes the existing functionality of the data-binding system?

public class foo : FrameworkElement
{
    [ValueConversion(typeof(string), typeof(int))]
    public class fooConverter : IValueConverter
    {   public object Convert(  object value, Type targetType,
                                object parameter, CultureInfo culture)
        { ... }
        public object ConvertBack(  object value, Type targetType,
                                    object parameter, CultureInfo culture)
        { ... }
    }

    private static readonly fooConverter fooConv = new fooConverter();



    private static readonly DependencyPropertyKey ReadOnlyIntPropertyKey =
        DependencyProperty.RegisterReadOnly( "ReadOnlyInt", typeof(int),
                                             typeof(foo), null);
    public int ReadOnlyInt
    {   get { return (int)GetValue(ReadOnlyIntPropertyKey.DependencyProperty); }
    }



    public static readonly DependencyProperty ReadWriteStrProperty =
        DependencyProperty.Register( "ReadWriteStr", typeof(string), typeof(foo),
                                     new PropertyMetadata(ReadWriteStr_Changed));
    public string ReadWriteStr
    {   get { return (string)GetValue(ReadWriteStrProperty); }
        set { SetValue(ReadWriteStrProperty, value); }
    }



    private static void ReadWriteStr_Changed(   DependencyObject d,
                                            DependencyPropertyChangedEventArgs e)
    {   try
        {   if (d is foo)
            {   foo f = d as foo;
                f.SetValue( ReadOnlyIntPropertyKey,
                            fooConv.Convert(f.ReadWriteStr, typeof(int), null,
                                            CultureInfo.CurrentCulture));
            }
        }
        catch { }
    }
}

3 Answers

0 votes
answered Aug 19, 2009 by thomas-levesque

It's not as bad as you suggest, IMHO...

You could get rid of the converter : IValueConverter is for bindings, you don't need it for conversions in code-behind. Apart from that, I don't see how you could make it more concise...

0 votes
answered Aug 19, 2009 by reed-copsey

Unfortunately, you'll need most of what you have. The IValueConverter isn't required in this case, so you could simplify it down to just:

public class foo : FrameworkElement
{
    private static readonly DependencyPropertyKey ReadOnlyIntPropertyKey =
        DependencyProperty.RegisterReadOnly( "ReadOnlyInt", typeof(int),
                                         typeof(foo), null);
    public int ReadOnlyInt
    {
       get { return (int)GetValue(ReadOnlyIntPropertyKey.DependencyProperty); }
    }

    public static readonly DependencyProperty ReadWriteStrProperty =
        DependencyProperty.Register( "ReadWriteStr", typeof(string), typeof(foo),
                                 new PropertyMetadata(ReadWriteStr_Changed));

    public string ReadWriteStr
    {
       get { return (string)GetValue(ReadWriteStrProperty); }
        set { SetValue(ReadWriteStrProperty, value); }
    }

    private static void ReadWriteStr_Changed(DependencyObject d,
                                        DependencyPropertyChangedEventArgs e)
    {
         foo f = d as foo;
         if (f != null)
         {
              int iVal;
              if (int.TryParse(f.ReadWriteStr, out iVal))
                  f.SetValue( ReadOnlyIntPropertyKey, iVal);
         }
    }
}
0 votes
answered Sep 15, 2017 by glenn-slayden

Yes, there is a clean way to "make a read-only DependencyProperty reflect the value of another property," but it may require a pretty fundamental shift in the overall property programming model of your app. In short, instead of using the DependencyPropertyKey to push values into the property, every read-only DependencyProperty can have a CoerceValue callback which builds its own value by pulling all the source values it depends on.

In this approach, the 'value' parameter that's passed in to CoerceValue is ignored. Instead, each DP's CoerceValue function recalculates its value "from scratch" by directly fetching whatever values it needs from the DependencyObject instance passed in to CoerceValue (you can use dobj.GetValue(...) for this if you want to avoid casting to the owner instance type).

Try to suppress any suspicion that ignoring the value supplied to CoerceValue may be wasting something. If you adhere to this model, those values will never be useful and the overall work is the same or less than a "push" model because source values that haven't changed are, as always, cached by the DP system. All that's changed is who's responsible for the calculation and where it's done. What's nice here is that calculation of each DP value is always centralized in one place and specifically associated with that DP, rather than strewn across the app.

You can throw away the DependencyPropertyKey in this model because you'll never need it. Instead, to update the value of any read-only DP you just call CoerceValue or InvalidateValue on the owner instance, indicating the desired DP. This works because those two functions don't require the DP key, they use the public DependencyProperty identifier instead, and they're public functions, so any code can call them from anywhere.

As for when and where to put these CoerceValue/InvalidateValue calls, there are two options:

  • Eager:   Put an InvalidateValue call for the (target) DP in the PropertyChangedCallback of every (source) DP that's mentioned in the (target) DP's CoerceValueCallback function,
      --or--
  • Lazy:   Always call CoerceValue on the DP immediately prior to fetching its value.

It's true that this method is not so XAML-friendly, but that wasn't a requirement of the OPs question. Considering, however, that in this approach you don't ever even need to fetch or retain the DependencyPropertyKey at all, it seems like it might one of the sleekest ways to go, if you're able to reconceive your app around the "pull" semantics.


In a completely separate vein, there's yet another solution that may be even simpler:

Expose INotifyPropertyChanged on your DependencyObject and use CLR properties for the read-only properties, which will now have a simple backing field. Yes, the WPF binding system will correctly detect and monitor both mechanisms--DependencyProperty and INotifyPropertyChanged--on the same class instance. A setter, private or otherwise, is recommended for pushing changes to this read-only property, and this setter should check the backing field to detect vacuous (redundant) changes, otherwise raising the old-style CLR PropertyChanged event.

For binding to this read-only property, either use the owner's OnPropertyChanged overload (for self-binding) to push in the changes from DPs, or, for binding from arbitrary external properties, use System.ComponentModel.DependencyPropertyDescriptor.FromProperty to get a DependencyPropertyDescriptor for the relevant souce DPs, and use its AddValueChanged method to set a handler which pushes in new values.

Of course for non-DP properties or non-DependencyObject instances, you can just subscribe to their INotifyPropertyChanged event to monitor changes that might affect your read-only property. In any case, no matter which way you push changes into the read-only property, the event raised by its setter ensures that changes to the read-only property correctly propagate onwards to any further dependent properties, whether WPF/DP, CLR, data-bound or otherwise.

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