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Disposal Anxiety

Monday, November 8, 2004
I came across this again in the newsgroups today:

sqlConnection = null;

There has been plenty of debate about the confusion resulting from aliasing the Dispose method. There has also been heaps of information to explain finalization, garbage collection, connection pooling, and IDisposable. Still, none of the debate or information addresses the fundamental problem in this scenario.

For some developers, the instantiation of a disposable object results in high levels of anxiety. The anxiety produces the obsessive-compulsive behavior demonstrated in the above code snippet.

I have a solution to propose. The using keyword only works well for the passive-aggressive types (I’ll dispose the object, but only as a side-effect), while those calling Dispose or Close explicitly do so with a clean and clinical approach – there is no emotion involved.

What the IDisposable interface needs is a method that promotes self-efficacy in a developer. A method name that can stir up primal urges as the developer types. What we need is a method like die_you_gravy_sucking_pigdog() from BSD’s shutdown.c module.

Now, I know this function was written back in the days when steam engines still ruled the world, but we could modernize the function by applying some .NET naming standards.


Can you feel the passion behind this statement? This statement carries the emotion that is hard to find in today's code. I hope you’ll support this proposal. Good people will be able to sleep at night once again.