Pros And Cons Of Option Compare Binary/Text In .NET?

Jun 22, 2011

What are the pros and cons of standardizing on using Option Compare Text vs Option Compare Binary for VB.NET development?

- EDIT -Just some background since it seems like it would help - my development team has found it much easier to standardize on Option Strict On, Option Infer On, and Option Explicit due to their obvious advantages over the alternatives. What we haven't found as easy to standardize on is Option Compare Text/Binary as there seem to be advantages and disadvantages to both and different developers have differing opinions. Some of the arguments for each side have been as follows:

Some of the advantages/arguments for Option Compare Text:

It reduces verbosity in the code by removing the need for StringComparers and .ToLower() calls and StringComparison.OrdinalIgnoreCase all over the place Data needs are rarely concerned with casing, as evidenced by most databases being case-insensitive. Rarely would you ever really want to distinguish between THIS and This and this when doing a data comparison.

Certain specific use cases are simpler when you don't have to worry about casing. For example, handling ASP.NET control events where commands are sent to the codebehind as strings and casing-issues are difficult to track down as the compiler cannot help you. Think Select Case statements for <asp:repeater> events as an example.Many of the concerns raised about text comparison concern internationalization, which is often not that relevant to a lot of applications.VB specifically is case insensitive as a language, though Visual Studio helps you by at least enforcing consistency in your casing. SQL is case insensitive as well. Strings are the only place where you have to remember to worry about it, which highlights the awkwardness in ways you wouldn't normally notice it if you were worried about it everywhere.

Some of the advantages/arguments for Option Compare Binary:C# works this way, as do most other languages. It's somewhat unexpected to have alternate behavior and the unexpected is not good in programming.There is a slight performance penalty with Option Compare Text as evidenced by the IL generated on compile. Option Compare Binary doesn't have that penalty.Option Compare Text only makes certain parts of string handling case insensitive. But, it doesn't make it so that things like dictionary indexing are case insensitive by default. So, it's not like Option Compare Text actually makes it so that you don't have to worry about casing at all. If it only works half way, why bother?Programming is hard. It's best not to attempt to smooth over that fact. Worrying about string casing is part of the deal. Humans recognize THIS is different from This and tHiS. Of course your code should too - after all, they aren't really the exact same string.

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