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Posted 12 May 2014

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A SQL-Like IN function for C# and VB.NET

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4.69/5 (13 votes)
10 Mar 2017CPOL2 min read
Simplify complex if-statements with "where value in list"


This tip presents helper functions similar to the SQL IN clause for use within .NET programs. The intention is to help avoid combining && / || (And / Or) within complex if statements.


Some considerable time ago, I found myself having to write some fairly complex if-statements combining lots of Ands with a whole load of Ors. I very quickly found myself wishing that VB6 (I know, I know!) had something similar to the T-SQL construct IN so I could get rid of the "Ors" and simplify the logic.

So I wrote myself some helper functions to do just that. It really wasn't pretty, and fortunately, it has now been condemned to the annals of history (although it is probably still sitting on a backup server somewhere!).

Then recently, I came across a post in Quick Answers where the OP had a very similar problem. Here's a (very much) simplified example of what it looked like...

if (!aBoolTest && (aTest == "++" || aTest == "--" || aTest == "**" || 
                aTest == "^/" || aTest == "/>" || aTest == "/<" || 
                aTest == "</=" || aTest == ">/=" || aTest == "/=") && aDoubleTest == .75)

Wouldn't it be nice if that could be written as something like...

if(!aBoolTest && aTest.IN("++","--",^/","/>","/<","</=",">/=","/=") && aDoubleTest == .75)

Using the Code

Well, in the first attempt in this article, I went completely in the wrong direction. See the comments prior to 13 May 2014 for far better solutions than my original. I guess my mind was still caught up thinking of my old VB6 solution!

However, the solution I was really after is even simpler in the context I'm using it ... to replace all those Ors. You just need an array of the values you are interested in - I've created the array on-the-fly within the if-statement itself - and the thing you're testing for. Then utilize the Contains method of the array. All you have to do is ensure that the array you create is the same type as the object you are testing against.

if (new string[] {"++", "--", "**", "^/", "/>", "/<", "/=", "/="}.Contains(aTest) )
    Debug.Print("Passed");  // Actions when test passes
    Debug.Print("Failed");  // Actions when test fails
If (New Char() {"+", "-", "*", "^", "/", "<", "=", ">"}).Contains(aCharTest) Then
    Debug.Print("Passed")   'Actions when test passes
    Debug.Print("Failed")   'Actions when test fails
End If

Points of Interest

I did actually learn something while I was putting together this tip. VB.NET is not my language of choice, but I thought it would make sense to include the VB version here. I got a bit frustrated trying to create a static class in VB before realizing that I should have been using a Module to get that effect. Of course, now I'm not using either.

But now, I have another list of things to study further - namely extension methods and generics. So I got something out of this first time around, and will gain even more over the next few days courtesy of the members that commented to version 1.

To be honest, this still probably isn't the most original of ideas, and I still haven't seen anything like this documented. Still happy to stand corrected if I'm wrong.


  • Version #1 - 12th May, 2014
  • Version #2 - 13th May, 2014 - Changed approach to in-line array. Dropped the classes altogether
  • Version #3 - 10th March, 2017 - Fixed the formatting


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


About the Author

Software Developer (Senior)
United Kingdom United Kingdom
Slowing down. Now working as a "Business Automation Consultant".

"Abandon all hope of ever being understood, all ye who have a good idea but don't say it perfectly." Doug Bernard

Comments and Discussions

GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
Member 1236439016-Mar-17 22:57
MemberMember 1236439016-Mar-17 22:57 
GeneralRe: My vote of 5 Pin
CHill6017-Mar-17 2:18
mveCHill6017-Mar-17 2:18 
QuestionA bit amusing Pin
Jörgen Andersson5-Jun-15 23:00
professionalJörgen Andersson5-Jun-15 23:00 
AnswerRe: A bit amusing Pin
CHill607-Jun-15 13:26
mveCHill607-Jun-15 13:26 
GeneralRe: A bit amusing Pin
Jörgen Andersson7-Jun-15 21:05
professionalJörgen Andersson7-Jun-15 21:05 
GeneralRe: A bit amusing Pin
CHill608-Jun-15 21:20
mveCHill608-Jun-15 21:20 
QuestionUSE this function from the VFPtoolkit Pin
William Dole20-Jan-15 6:49
MemberWilliam Dole20-Jan-15 6:49 
AnswerRe: USE this function from the VFPtoolkit Pin
CHill6020-Jan-15 13:34
mveCHill6020-Jan-15 13:34 
QuestionWhat about: Pin
sapatag13-May-14 22:11
Membersapatag13-May-14 22:11 
AnswerRe: What about: Pin
CHill6014-May-14 0:34
mveCHill6014-May-14 0:34 
GeneralRe: What about: Pin
sapatag14-May-14 1:00
Membersapatag14-May-14 1:00 
GeneralRe: What about: Pin
CHill6014-May-14 2:08
mveCHill6014-May-14 2:08 
QuestionNice! Pin
Volynsky Alex12-May-14 8:09
professionalVolynsky Alex12-May-14 8:09 
AnswerRe: Nice! Pin
CHill6012-May-14 9:47
mveCHill6012-May-14 9:47 
GeneralRe: Nice! Pin
Volynsky Alex12-May-14 10:47
professionalVolynsky Alex12-May-14 10:47 
QuestionNot bad Pin
Chris Copeland12-May-14 2:29
professionalChris Copeland12-May-14 2:29 
AnswerRe: Not bad Pin
CHill6012-May-14 2:31
mveCHill6012-May-14 2:31 
AnswerRe: Not bad Pin
johannesnestler12-May-14 2:33
Memberjohannesnestler12-May-14 2:33 
GeneralRe: Not bad Pin
Chris Copeland12-May-14 3:14
professionalChris Copeland12-May-14 3:14 
GeneralRe: Not bad Pin
johannesnestler12-May-14 3:28
Memberjohannesnestler12-May-14 3:28 
QuestionComplete nonsense Pin
johannesnestler12-May-14 2:28
Memberjohannesnestler12-May-14 2:28 
AnswerRe: Complete nonsense Pin
CHill6012-May-14 2:31
mveCHill6012-May-14 2:31 
GeneralRe: Complete nonsense Pin
johannesnestler12-May-14 2:42
Memberjohannesnestler12-May-14 2:42 
GeneralRe: Complete nonsense Pin
CHill6012-May-14 3:36
mveCHill6012-May-14 3:36 
SuggestionNice Pin
Goor12-May-14 2:00
MemberGoor12-May-14 2:00 

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