Byte Structure

[This documentation is for preview only, and is subject to change in later releases. Blank topics are included as placeholders.]

Represents an 8-bit unsigned integer.

Namespace:  System
Assembly:  mscorlib (in mscorlib.dll)

public value class Byte

The Byte type exposes the following members.

Public methodEqualsIndicates whether this instance and a specified object are equal. (Inherited from ValueType.)
Public methodGetHashCodeServes as a hash function for a particular type. (Inherited from Object.)
Public methodGetTypeGets the Type of the current instance. (Inherited from Object.)
Public methodStatic memberParseConverts the string representation of a number to its Byte equivalent.
Public methodToString()()()()Converts the value of the current Byte object to its equivalent string representation. (Overrides Object..::..ToString()()()().)
Public methodToString(String)Converts the value of the current Byte object to its equivalent string representation using the specified format.

Public fieldStatic memberMaxValueRepresents the largest possible value of a Byte. This field is constant.
Public fieldStatic memberMinValueRepresents the smallest possible value of a Byte. This field is constant.

Byte is an immutable value type that represents unsigned integers with values that range from 0 (which is represented by the Byte..::..MinValue constant) to 255 (which is represented by the Byte..::..MaxValue constant). The .NET Framework also includes a signed 8-bit integer value type, SByte, which represents values that range from -128 to 127.

Instantiating a Byte Value

You can instantiate a Byte value in several ways:

  • You can declare a Byte variable and assign it a literal integer value that is within the range of the Byte data type. The following example declares two Byte variables and assigns them values in this way.

  • You can assign a non-byte numeric value to a byte. This is a narrowing conversion, so it requires a cast operator in C# and a conversion method in Visual Basic if Option Strict is on. If the non-byte value is a Single, Double, or Decimal value that includes a fractional component, the handling of its fractional part depends on the compiler performing the conversion. The following example assigns several numeric values to Byte variables.

  • You can call a method of the Convert class to convert any supported type to a Byte value. This is possible because Byte supports the IConvertible interface. The following example illustrates the conversion of an array of Int32 values to Byte values.

  • You can call the Parse or TryParse method to convert the string representation of a Byte value to a Byte. The string can contain either decimal or hexadecimal digits. The following example illustrates the parse operation by using both a decimal and a hexadecimal string.

Performing Operations on Byte Values

The Byte type supports standard mathematical operations such as addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, subtraction, negation, and unary negation. Like the other integral types, the Byte type also supports the bitwise AND, OR, XOR, left shift, and right shift operators.

You can use the standard numeric operators to compare two Byte values, or you can call the CompareTo or Equals method.

Representing a Byte as a String

The Byte type provides full support for standard and custom numeric format strings. (For more information, see Formatting Types, Standard Numeric Format Strings, and Custom Numeric Format Strings.) However, most commonly, byte values are represented as one-digit to three-digit values without any additional formatting, or as two-digit hexadecimal values.

To format a Byte value as an integral string with no leading zeros, you can call the parameterless ToString()()()() method. By using the "D" format specifier, you can also include a specified number of leading zeros in the string representation. By using the "X" format specifier, you can represent a Byte value as a hexadecimal string. The following example formats the elements in an array of Byte values in these three ways.

You can also format a Byte value as a binary, octal, decimal, or hexadecimal string by calling the ToString(Byte, Int32) method and supplying the base as the method's second parameter. The following example calls this method to display the binary, octal, and hexadecimal representations of an array of byte values.

Working with Non-Decimal Byte Values

In addition to working with individual bytes as decimal values, you may want to perform bitwise operations with byte values, or work with byte arrays or with the binary or hexadecimal representations of byte values. For example, overloads of the BitConverter.GetBytes method can convert each of the primitive data types to a byte array, and the BigInteger.ToByteArray method converts a BigInteger value to a byte array.

Byte values are represented in 8 bits by their magnitude only, without a sign bit. This is important to keep in mind when you perform bitwise operations on Byte values or when you work with individual bits. In order to perform a numeric, Boolean, or comparison operation on any two non-decimal values, both values must use the same representation.

When an operation is performed on two Byte values, the values share the same representation, so the result is accurate. This is illustrated in the following example, which masks the lowest-order bit of a Byte value to ensure that it is even.

On the other hand, when you work with both unsigned and signed bits, bitwise operations are complicated by the fact that the SByte values use sign-and-magnitude representation for positive values, and two's complement representation for negative values. In order to perform a meaningful bitwise operation, the values must be converted to two equivalent representations, and information about the sign bit must be preserved. The following example does this to mask out bits 2 and 4 of an array of 8-bit signed and unsigned values.

All members of this type are thread safe. Members that appear to modify instance state actually return a new instance initialized with the new value. As with any other type, reading and writing to a shared variable that contains an instance of this type must be protected by a lock to guarantee thread safety.