5.4.The foreach Loop #

A foreach loop is used to iterate through the items in a list. It operates on arrays or collections such as ArrayList, which can be found in the System.Collections namespace. The syntax of a foreach loop is foreach ( in ) { }. The type is the type of item contained in the list. For example, if the type of the list was int[] then the type would be int.
The iteration variable is an identifier that you choose, which could be anything but should be meaningful. For example, if the list contained an array of people’s ages, then a meaningful name for item name would be age.
The in keyword is required.
As mentioned earlier, the list could be either an array or a collection. You learned about arrays in Lesson 02: Operators, Types, and Variables. You can also iterate over C# generic collections also, described in Lesson 20: Introduction to Generic Collections.
While iterating through the items of a list with a foreach loop, the list is read-only. This means that you can’t modify the iteration variable within a foreach loop. There is a subtlety here; Later, you’ll learn how to create custom types, called class and struct, that can contain multiple fields. You can change the fields of the class or struct, but not the iteration variable for the class or struct itself in a foreach loop.
On each iteration through a foreach loop the list is queried for a new value. As long as the list can return a value, this value will be put into the read-only iteration variable, causing the statements in the foreach block to be executed. When the collection has been fully traversed, control will transfer to the first executable statement following the end of the foreach block. Listing 4-4 demonstrates how to use a foreach loop.
Listing 4-4. The ForEach Loop: ForEachLoop.cs`

using System;
class ForEachLoop
   publicstaticvoid Main()
        string[] names = {"Cheryl", "Joe", "Matt", "Robert"};

        foreach (string person in names)
            Console.WriteLine("{0} ", person);

In Listing 4-4, the first thing we’ve done inside the Main method is declare and initialize the names array with 4 strings. This is the list used in the foreach loop.
In the foreach loop, we’ve used a string variable, person, as the item name, to hold each element of the names array. As long as there are names in the array that have not been returned, the Console.WriteLine method will print each value of the person variable to the screen.
Loops allow you to execute a block of statements repeatedly. C# offers several statements to construct loops with, including the while, do, for, and foreach loops. while loops execute a block of statements as long as an expression is true, do loops execute a block of statements at least once and then keep going as long as a condition is true, for loops execute a block of statements a specified amount of times, and foreach loops execute a block of statements for each item in a collection. Normally a block of statements will execute from beginning to end. However, the normal flow of a loop can be changed with the break and continue statements.
So far, the only method you’ve seen in this tutorial is the Main method, which is the entry point of a C# application. However, you are probably wanting to write larger programs to test your new knowledge. This requires breaking up the code into methods to keep it organized and logical. For this, I invite you to return for Lesson 5: Introduction to Methods, where you can learn new techniques of organizing your code.

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