Nullable Types

A common problem that developers run into with .NET v1.1 is the
situation where you want a value type such as an int or
bool but you want to allow for the value to also be
undefined or null. For example, data coming from a database might
not have a value define for one of the fields. The .NET Framework
has had special SQL data types to deal with this issue but what if
your problem domain isn’t related to SQL?

In .NET 2.0, there is a new generic type
System.Nullable<T> that allows you to represent a
value that can also be null. The T stands for the specific type you
want to use so your code might use
System.Nullable<int> or
System.Nullable<bool> or even
System.Nullable<MyValueType>. C# has a special
syntax that maps T? to System.Nullable<T>
so you can add a question mark to your value types and they become
“nullable”. The following two lines are equivalent:

System.Nullable<bool> myNullableBool = false;
bool? myNullableBool = false;

As ever, C# tries to take the typing out of writing code.

The following code sample shows nullable types in use:

class App {
    static void Main() {
        int? i = 1;
        System.Console.WriteLine("i = {0} ({1})",i,i.HasValue);
        i = null;
        System.Console.WriteLine("i = {0} ({1})",i,i.HasValue);

This generates the following output:

i = 1 (True)
i = (False)

Nullable types are only meaningful with value types.
string? won’t work because you can already set a string
variable to be null.