In Focus

What Are Access Modifiers In C#

C# access modifiers including private, public, protected, and internal define the scope of a class and members. Here learn how to use Access Modifiers In C#.

Access Modifiers In C#

 
Access modifiers in C# are used to specify the scope of accessibility of a member of a class or type of the class itself. For example, a public class is accessible to everyone without any restrictions, while an internal class may be accessible to the assembly only.
 

Why to use access modifiers?

 
Access modifiers are an integral part of object-oriented programming. Access modifiers are used to implement encapsulation of OOP. Access modifiers allow you to define who does or who doesn't have access to certain features.
 
In C# there are 6 different types of Access Modifiers.
 
Modifier Description
public There are no restrictions on accessing public members.
private Access is limited to within the class definition. This is the default access modifier type if none is formally specified
protected Access is limited to within the class definition and any class that inherits from the class
internal Access is limited exclusively to classes defined within the current project assembly
protected internal Access is limited to the current assembly and types derived from the containing class. All members in current project and all members in derived class can access the variables.   
private protected
Access is limited to the containing class or types derived from the containing class within the current assembly.
  1. using System;  
  2. namespace AccessModifiers  
  3. {  
  4.     class Program  
  5.     {  
  6.         class AccessMod  
  7.         {  
  8.             public int num1;  
  9.         }  
  10.         static void Main(string[] args)  
  11.         {  
  12.             AccessMod ob1 = new AccessMod();  
  13.             //Direct access to public members  
  14.             ob1.num1 = 100;  
  15.             Console.WriteLine("Number one value in main {0}", ob1.num1);  
  16.             Console.ReadLine();  
  17.         }  
  18.     }  
  19. }  

public modifier

 
The public keyword is an access modifier for types and type members. Public access is the most permissive access level.
 
There are no restrictions on accessing public members.
 
Accessibility
  • Can be accessed by objects of the class
  • Can be accessed by derived classes
Example: In the following example num1 is direct access.
 

private modifier

 
Private access is the least permissive access level.
 
Private members are accessible only within the body of the class or the struct in which they are declared.
 
Accessibility
  • Cannot be accessed by object
  • Cannot be accessed by derived classes
Example: In the following example num2 is not accessible outside the class.
  1. using System;  
  2. namespace AccessModifiers  
  3. {  
  4.     class Program  
  5.     {  
  6.         class AccessMod  
  7.         {  
  8.             public int num1;  
  9.             int num2;  
  10.         }  
  11.         static void Main(string[] args)  
  12.         {  
  13.             AccessMod ob1 = new AccessMod();  
  14.             //Direct access to public members  
  15.             ob1.num1 = 100;  
  16.             //Access to private member is not permitted  
  17.             ob1.num2 = 20;  
  18.             Console.WriteLine("Number one value in main {0}", ob1.num1);  
  19.             Console.ReadLine();  
  20.         }  
  21.     }  
  22. }  
The above program will give compilation error, as access to private is not permissible. In the below figure you can see the private member num2 is not available.
 
private.jpg 

protected modifier

 
A protected member is accessible from within the class in which it is declared, and from within any class derived from the class that declared this member.
 
A protected member of a base class is accessible in a derived class only if the access takes place through the derived class type.
 
Accessibility
  • Cannot be accessed by object
  • By derived classes
  1. using System;  
  2. namespace AccessModifiers  
  3. {  
  4.     class Program  
  5.     {  
  6.         class Base  
  7.         {  
  8.             protected int num1;  
  9.         }  
  10.         class Derived : Base  
  11.         {  
  12.             public int num2;  
  13.             static void Main(string[] args)  
  14.             {  
  15.                 Base ob1 = new Base();  
  16.                 Derived ob2 = new Derived();  
  17.                 ob2.num1 = 20;  
  18.                 // Access to protected member as it is inherited by the Derived class  
  19.                 ob2.num2 = 90;  
  20.                 Console.WriteLine("Number2 value {0}", ob2.num2);  
  21.                 Console.WriteLine("Number1 value which is protected {0}", ob2.num1);  
  22.                 Console.ReadLine();  
  23.             }  
  24.         }  
  25.     }  
  26. }  
In the above program we try to access protected member in main it is not available as shown in the picture below that num1 is not listed in intellisense.
 
protected.jpg 
 

internal modifier

 
The internal keyword is an access modifier for types and type members. We can declare a class as internal or its member as internal. Internal members are accessible only within files in the same assembly (.dll).
 
In other words, access is limited exclusively to classes defined within the current project assembly.
 
Accessibility
 
In same assembly (public) 
  • Can be accessed by objects of the class
  • Can be accessed by derived classes
In other assembly (internal) 
  • Cannot be accessed by object
  • Cannot be accessed by derived classes

protected internal modifier

 
The protected internal accessibility means protected OR internal, not protected AND internal.
 
In other words, a protected internal member is accessible from any class in the same assembly, including derived classes.
 
The protected internal access modifier seems to be a confusing but is a union of protected and internal in terms of providing access but not restricting. It allows:  
  • Inherited types, even though they belong to a different assembly, have access to the protected internal members.
  • Types that reside in the same assembly, even if they are not derived from the type, also have access to the protected internal members. 

Default access

A default access level is used if no access modifier is specified in a member declaration. The following list defines the default access modifier for certain C# types:
 
enum: The default and only access modifier supported is public.
class: The default access for a class is private. It may be explicitly defined using any of the access modifiers.
interface: The default and only access modifier supported is public.
struct: The default access is private with public and internal supported as well.
 
The default access may suffice for a given situation, but you should specify the access modifier you want to use to ensure proper application behavior.
 
Note: Interface and enumeration members are always public and no access modifiers are allowed.
 

Conclusion

 
I hope that this article would have helped you in understanding accessibility modifiers. Your feedback and constructive contributions are welcome.