F# Self Identifiers

A self-identifier is a name that represents the current instance. It resembles the this keyword in C# or C++ or Me in Visual Basic.

  • You can define a self-identifier in two different ways, depending on whether you want the self-identifier to be in scope for the whole class definition or just for an individual method.
  • To define a self-identifier for the whole class, use the as keyword after the closing parentheses of the constructor parameter list and specify the identifier name.
  • To define a self-identifier for just one method, provide the self identifier in the member declaration, just before the method name and a period (.) as a separator.

The following example shows two ways to create a self-identifier.

type Point3D(x: int, y: int, z: int) as self =
    let X = x
    let Y = y
    let Z = z
    member this.Print() =
        printf "%d %d %d" x y z

let point = new Point3D(1, 2, 3)

In the first line, the as keyword is used to define the self-identifier. In the seventh line, the identifier this is used to define a self-identifier whose scope is restricted to the method Print.

  • Unlike in other .NET languages, you can name the self identifier as you want, and you are not restricted to names such as self, Me, or this.
  • The self-identifier that is declared with the as keyword is not initialized until after the base constructor.
  • You can use the self identifier freely after the base constructor, such as in let bindings or do bindings.

When a self identifier is used before or inside the base constructor, the following exception will be raised during runtime.

System.InvalidOperationException: The initialization of an object or value resulted in an object or value being accessed recursively before it was fully initialized.