C# 4.0 which recently has been released introduces a new static type with the name dynamic. The semantic of declaring a variable as dynamic is to defer all type checking from compile-time to run-time.  This feature doesn’t enable new run-time capabilities, but it certainly makes your code more readable – especially when you interacting with not-strongly-typed languages, such as javascript or dynamic languages.

Consider this example in C#. The example uses reflection to invoke a named method - “Add” in this case. There is no enforcement at compile time, i.e. there is no guarantee that obj has an “Add” method that takes 2 ints as parameters and return an int. Further, which is the point of this discussion, the example contains quite a lot of glue code, which obscures the intention.

  1: using System;
  2: using System.Reflection;
  4: class Class1
  5: {
  6:     static void Main(string[] args)
  7:     {
  8:         object obj = <some constructor>; 
  9:         object[] parameters = new object[] { 2, 5 };
 10:         Type type = obj.GetType(); 
 11:         int res = (int)type.InvokeMember("Add", 
 12:                BindingFlags.InvokeMethod, null, obj, parameters);
 13:         Console.Write("Result: {0}", res);
 14:     }
 14: }

Now, let us rewrite the example to use the dynamic type. Notice how the intention is crystal clear. You still don’t get compile-time checking – but hey, you didn’t have that before either.

  1: using System;
  3: class Class1
  4: {
  5:     static void Main(string[] args)
  6:     {
  7:         dynamic obj = <some constructor>;
  8:         int res = obj.Add(2, 5);
  9:         Console.Write("Result: {0}", res);        
 10:     }
 11: }

There is, of course, much more to this feature in C#. For example, you are able to control how the runtime checking behaves, and how the late-bound invocation is implemented.

So far so good – but what does that have to do with X++?  Well, X++ is a strongly typed language – like C#; and like in C# you sometimes need to call into weakly typed objects. In AX forms, reports and datasets are weakly typed (i.e. they are not known to the X++ type system). So since the very first version of AX we have had the challenge of bridging this gap – without ruining the code readability.

The interesting thing is that we in 1996 came up with the same solution to this problem, namely: Create a static type that instructs the compiler to relax all checks on operations on variables of the type. The C# solution is in many ways cleaner, more flexible and more robust – but the main principle of the solution is the same. You may already have guessed the X++ solution, but here it is: Types declared as object are not subject to compile time checking. This is of course an overloading of the object semantics – object is also the root base type of all classes. 

Here is an X++ example, similar the C# examples above:

  1: static void LateBindingJob(Args _args)
  2: {
  3:     object obj = <some constructor>;
  4:     int res = obj.Add(2, 5);
  6:     info(strfmt("Result: %1", res));
  7: }

Call me a geek – but it makes me happy when the two languages converge.