Install-Package FlagUtil -Version
dotnet add package FlagUtil --version
<PackageReference Include="FlagUtil" Version="" />
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paket add FlagUtil --version
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#r "nuget: FlagUtil,"
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// Install FlagUtil as a Cake Addin
#addin nuget:?package=FlagUtil&version=

// Install FlagUtil as a Cake Tool
#tool nuget:?package=FlagUtil&version=
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dotnet.FlagUtil is a helper library guided towards assisting with binary flag operations. Allowing for an object oriented approach to binary flags it enables easy method calls for modifying and checking flags.

dotnet.FlagUtil is open source under the MIT licence.


The only dependancy for dotnet.FlagUtil is dotnetcore2.0.


dotnet.FlagUtil is available as a NuGet package here: https://www.nuget.org/packages/FlagUtil/1.0.0


A pre-build .dll for dotnet.FlagUtil is available https://github.com/Polymeristic/dotnet.FlagUtil/tree/master/lib


Download the repo and build using Visual Studio.


Using dotnet.FlagUtil is painlessly simple. It can be used with an Enum based approach or using long. We will be using the below example enum throughout the documentation.

public enum Status {
    ONLINE = 0b0001,
    OFFLINE = 0b0010,
    PROCESSING = 0b0100,
    FAILED = 0b1000

Creating a Flag

To create a flag you need to provide the Flag with a base value, to do so you can use either a; long, Flag or Enum - all can be parsed into a Flag. Usefully, the library supports unlimited arguments on almost all it's functions. If multiple arguments are detected it will automatically merge those flags into a single flag, as shown below.

public static void Main() {
    // Assignment using an Enum possible,
    // equiv. to 0b0001
    Flag f1 = new Flag(Status.ONLINE);
    // Equiv. to 0b0101
    Flag f2 = new Flag(Status.ONLINE,
    // You can also assign using any unsigned numerical type,
    // in this case f3 and f4 are equal
    Flag f3 = new Flag(0b0100);
    Flag f4 = new Flag(4);

    // And finally you can copy or compound flags using
    Flag f5 = new Flag(f1, f3);
    // Which would be equiv. to 0b0101

Flag Modification Operations

Merging Indicators

Merging a flag essentialy means adding a new indicator to the existing flag, in binary terms it is like an 'OR' operator. It would look like such 0010 | 0100 = 0110. Merging can be done either through methods or on initialization, as the initializer supports multiple parameters. An example of initialization merging would be:

// Has merged two flags into one
Flag status = new Flag(Status.ONLINE,

Onced merged, you can use the == operator (or other equality operators) to check for the indicators contained within the overall flag. You can also merge additional indicators after the flag has been initialised, using our variable status we defined above, we can add a new indicator:

status += Status.FAILED;

As you can see the + operator can be used to add new indicators to a flag. Likewise, the - operator will remove indicators from a flag. See more about this in the Removing Indicators section.

You can also use the Flag.Merge(x, ..) method to merge more indicators, as such:

status.Merge(Status.FAILED, Status.OFFLINE);
Removing Indicators

As merging adds indicators, removing indicators will take them away. This can be visualised as a little bit more complicated of a binary expression, to remove 0010 from 0110 we can represent this as 0110 & ~0010. The removal of indicators can be done either by using the method Flag.Remove(x, ..) or by using the - operator.

In the below demonstration we remove the ONLINE and PROCESSING flags and replace them with OFFLINE and ERROR.

// Has merged two flags into one
Flag status = new Flag(Status.ONLINE,

status -= Status.ONLINE;
status -= Status.PROCESSING;
status += Status.OFFLINE;
status += Status.ERROR;

This can be done in a cleaner way however, using the Flag.Remove(x, ..) and Flag.Merge(x, ..) methods.

// Has merged two flags into one
Flag status = new Flag(Status.ONLINE,

status.Remove(Status.ONLINE, Status.PROCESSING);
status.Merge(Status.OFFLINE, Status.ERROR)

In some, admittedly odd, circumstances you can flip all indicators in the flag by using either the ! or ~ operators, or Flag.Reverse(). Doing so will bit-flip all indicators, meaning 0011 would turn into 1100.

Other binary operators

Other binary operators such as bit-shifting have not been included due to fear of unnessicary bloat. However if you do wish to edit the flag's underlying value you can access it via the Value property.

Flag status = new Flag(Status.ONLINE);
status.Value = status.Value << 1;

Flag Equality

Flag equality in dotnet.FlagUtil isn't exactly what it would seem at first glance. Some assumptions were made around it's usage in order to be better suited to it's job, as such, it may not seem obvious at first as to the meaning of some operators.

Checking for flag indicators

The == operator is perhaps the most confusing as in our case it doesn't explicitly mean 'is x is equals to y?'. In dotnet.FlagUtils, the equals operator means 'is y is contained in x' - note the flip! Doing things this way means we can easy check for flag indicators.

Say we want to create a flag currentStatus, we would initialise it as such:

Flag currentStatus = new Flag(Status.ONLINE, Status.PROCESSING);

At present the flag is equivelant to the binary expression 0b0101, so, if we wish to check if this flag has the Status.ONLINE (equiv. to 0b0001) indicator all we need to do is:

if (currentStatus == Status.ONLINE) {
    // do something

As you can see the == operator does not mean 'x is equals to y' but instead means 'y is contained within x'. If we did need to check for an exact match we need to use the helper function Flag.MatchExact(x, ..)

In addition to using the == operator you can also use Flag.Match(x, ..) - these methods are functionally identical, however, Flag.Match(x, ..) supports multiple parameters. As such it will merge them into a single flag then check that against the subject. An example of this in our scenario would be:

if (currentStatus.Match(Status.OFFLINE, Status.PROCESSING)) {
   // would return TRUE because currentStatus has the Status.PROCESSING flag set. And since it 
   // contains Status.PROCESSIG it will return TRUE, even though Status.OFFLINE is not present.
Checking for exact flag matches

If you wish to check if two flags are exactly identical you will need to use the method Flag.MatchExact(x, ..). Yet again this method supports multiple parameters, these will be merged in the same way as the Flag.Match(x, ..) method.

Unline the Flag.Match(x, ..) and == methods, the Flag.MatchExact(x, ..) method does mean 'is x equals to y'. Again using the scenario of:

Flag currentStatus = new Flag(Status.ONLINE, Status.PROCESSING);

Here is an example of using the exact match method:

if (currentStatus.MatchExact(Status.ONLINE, Status.PROCESSING, Status.FAILED)) {
    // this code will NOT run
} else 
if (currentStatus.MatchExact(Status.ONLINE, Status.PROCESSING)) {
    // this code will run

String Representation

The Flag class implements ToString() in a way that it will convert it's flag value into the binary representation of the flag. This was done to ensure ease of idenficiation. As such

new Flag(Status.ONLINE, Status.PROCESSING).ToString()

Would output "0101"


Due to the nature of a flag the hash code is simply equal to the flag's value. This means hash tables can be produced based on combined flag indicators. dawd


For any feedback feel free to add to the Issues panel in the Github repo, or message me directly.

  • .NETStandard 2.0

    • No dependencies.

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Version Downloads Last updated 255 3/2/2020
1.0.1 243 3/2/2020
1.0.0 224 3/2/2020