Support implicit/explicit conversion in C# for VB.NET

Today I hit an annoying problem with VB.NET using components written in C#. The basic problem is that I have an object called Field with a Value property of type object written in C#. The client code is written in VB.NET and wants to access the Field’s value without specifying the Value property, e.g.

Dim myField as Field = new Field()
myField.Value = 13

If CInt(myField) = 13 or myField = 13…

The initial problem is that a Field is not an int, so you’ll get an invalid cast, fair enough. So I implemented the implicit/explicit conversion operators available in C#.

Field myField = new Field();
myField.Value = 13

if ((int)myField==13)…

The above, written in C#, now works but the previous VB.NET still fails! The problem is that VB.NET simply doesn’t call op_Implicit/op_Explicit functions exposed by the C# code. Delving into the Visual Basic engine you can see that under the covers it use IConvertable to do all of its conversions. So if you want VB.NET to understand that House = 7 really means House.Number = 7 then you need to implement IConvertable in the C# component.

After implementing IConvertable the above code sprang into life.

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