Backgroundworker example

Posted in .NET 2.0 | Performance | Visual Studio 2005 at Tuesday, 10 February 2009 17:57 GMT Standard Time

The background worker allows you to execute intense or long operations on a separate thread, without having to deal with threads, invokes or delegates. This is essential in today's cluttered webspace brought forth by the constant growth of broadband technology.

This simple example pretty much cover all posibilities of use of this component: cancellation support, backgroundworker error handling and report progress (also passing UserState data on report progress notifications)

Nota: Este artículo está disponible en castellano aquí

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.ComponentModel;
using System.Data;
using System.Drawing;
using System.Text;
using System.Windows.Forms;

namespace BackgroundWorker
    public partial class Form1 : Form
        public Form1()

            //mandatory. Otherwise will throw an exception when calling ReportProgress method
            backgroundWorker1.WorkerReportsProgress = true; 

            //mandatory. Otherwise we would get an InvalidOperationException when trying to cancel the operation
            backgroundWorker1.WorkerSupportsCancellation = true;

        //This method is executed in a separate thread created by the background worker.
        //so don't try to access any UI controls here!! (unless you use a delegate to do it)
        //this attribute will prevent the debugger to stop here if any exception is raised.
        private void backgroundWorker1_DoWork(object sender, DoWorkEventArgs e)
            //NOTE: we shouldn't use a try catch block here (unless you rethrow the exception)
            //the backgroundworker will be able to detect any exception on this code.
            //if any exception is produced, it will be available to you on 
            //the RunWorkerCompletedEventArgs object, method backgroundWorker1_RunWorkerCompleted
                DateTime start = DateTime.Now;
                e.Result = "";
                for (int i = 0; i < 100; i++)
                    System.Threading.Thread.Sleep(50); //do some intense task here.
                    backgroundWorker1.ReportProgress(i, DateTime.Now); //notify progress to main thread. We also pass time information in UserState to cover this property in the example.
                    //Error handling: uncomment this code if you want to test how an exception is handled by the background worker.
                    //also uncomment the mentioned attribute above to it doesn't stop in the debugger.
                    //if (i == 34)
                    //    throw new Exception("something wrong here!!");

                    //if cancellation is pending, cancel work.
                    if (backgroundWorker1.CancellationPending)
                        e.Cancel = true; 

                TimeSpan duration = DateTime.Now - start;
                //we could return some useful information here, like calculation output, number of items affected, etc.. to the main thread.
                e.Result = "Duration: " + duration.TotalMilliseconds.ToString() + " ms.";
            //catch(Exception ex){
            //    MessageBox.Show("Don't use try catch here, let the backgroundworker handle it for you!");

        //This event is raised on the main thread.
        //It is safe to access UI controls here.
        private void backgroundWorker1_ProgressChanged(object sender, 
            ProgressChangedEventArgs e)
            progressBar1.Value = e.ProgressPercentage; //update progress bar
            DateTime time = Convert.ToDateTime(e.UserState); //get additional information about progress
            //in this example, we log that optional additional info to textbox

        //This is executed after the task is complete whatever the task has completed: a) sucessfully, b) with error c)has been cancelled
        private void backgroundWorker1_RunWorkerCompleted(object sender, 
            RunWorkerCompletedEventArgs e)
            if (e.Cancelled) {
                MessageBox.Show("The task has been cancelled");
            else if (e.Error != null)
                MessageBox.Show("Error. Details: " + (e.Error as Exception).ToString());
            else {
                MessageBox.Show("The task has been completed. Results: " + e.Result.ToString());

        private void btoCancel_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
            //notify background worker we want to cancel the operation.
            //this code doesn't actually cancel or kill the thread that is executing the job.

        private void btoStart_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)


Download sample project

Download BackgroundWorker.ZIP (C# sample project)

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