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Unhandled exceptions in BackgroundWorker

Posted by: admin November 29, 2017 Leave a comment

Questions:

I have a small WinForms app that utilizes a BackgroundWorker object to perform a long-running operation.

The background operation throws occasional exceptions, typically when somebody has a file open that is being recreated.

Regardless of whether the code is run from the IDE or not .NET pops up an error dialog informing the user that an Unhandled exception has occurred. Compiling the code using the Release configuration doesn’t change this either.

According to MSDN:

If the operation raises an exception that your code does not handle, the BackgroundWorker catches the exception and passes it into the RunWorkerCompleted event handler, where it is exposed as the Error property of System.ComponentModel..::.RunWorkerCompletedEventArgs. If you are running under the Visual Studio debugger, the debugger will break at the point in the DoWork event handler where the unhandled exception was raised.

I expect these exceptions to be thrown on occasion and would like to handle them in the RunWorkerCompleted event rather than in DoWork. My code works properly and the error is handled correctly within the RunWorkerCompleted event but I can’t for the life of me figure out how to stop the .NET error dialog complaining about the “Unhandled exception” from occurring.

Isn’t the BackgroundWorker supposed to catch that error automagically? Isn’t that what the MSDN documentation states? What do I need to do to inform .NET that this error is being handled while still allowing the exception to propage into the Error property of RunWorkerCompletedEventArgs?

Answers:

What you’re describing is not the defined behavior of BackgroundWorker. You’re doing something wrong, I suspect.

Here’s a little sample that proves BackgroundWorker eats exceptions in DoWork, and makes them available to you in RunWorkerCompleted:

var worker = new BackgroundWorker();
worker.DoWork += (sender, e) => 
    { 
        throw new InvalidOperationException("oh shiznit!"); 
    };
worker.RunWorkerCompleted += (sender, e) =>
    {
        if(e.Error != null)
        {
            MessageBox.Show("There was an error! " + e.Error.ToString());
        }
    };
worker.RunWorkerAsync();

My psychic debugging skills are revealing your problem to me: You are accessing e.Result in your RunWorkerCompleted handler — if there’s an e.Error, you must handle it without accessing e.Result. For example, the following code is bad, bad, bad, and will throw an exception at runtime:

var worker = new BackgroundWorker();
worker.DoWork += (sender, e) => 
    { 
        throw new InvalidOperationException("oh shiznit!"); 
    };
worker.RunWorkerCompleted += (sender, e) =>
    {
        // OH NOOOOOOOES! Runtime exception, you can't access e.Result if there's an
        // error. You can check for errors using e.Error.
        var result = e.Result; 
    };
worker.RunWorkerAsync();

Here’s a proper implementation of the RunWorkerCompleted event handler:

private void RunWorkerCompletedHandler(object sender, RunWorkerCompletedEventArgs e)
{
    if (e.Error == null)
    {
       DoSomethingWith(e.Result); // Access e.Result only if no error occurred.
    }
}

VOILA, you won’t receive runtime exceptions.

Questions:
Answers:

I would add to the MSDN text:

If the operation raises an exception that your code does not handle, the BackgroundWorker catches the exception and passes it into the RunWorkerCompleted event handler, where it is exposed as the Error property of System.ComponentModel..::.RunWorkerCompletedEventArgs. If you are running under the Visual Studio debugger, the debugger will break at the point in the DoWork event handler where the unhandled exception was raised.

… AND the debugger will report the exception as “~Exception was unhandled by user code”

Solution: Don’t run under the debugger and it works as expected: Exception caught in e.Error.

Questions:
Answers:

This is an old question, but I found it while Googling the same symptoms. Posting this in case someone else finds it for the same reason.

Judah’s answer is right, but it isn’t the only reason the “unhandled exception in user code” dialog can appear. If an exception is thrown from inside a constructor on the background thread then that exception will cause the dialog immediately, and won’t be passed to the RunWorkerCompleted event. If you move the offending code outside of any constructors (to any other method) it works as expected.

Questions:
Answers:
[Edit]

Judah has a great point. My example pointed out the specifics of handling the error but my code would actually cause another exception if an exception was never hit in the DoWork method. This example is OK due to the fact that we are specifically showing the error handling capabilities of the BackgroundWorker. However if you are not checking the error parameter against null then this could be your issue.

[/Edit]

I don’t see the same results. Can you post a little code? Here is my code.

private void Form1_Load(object sender, EventArgs e)
{
    BackgroundWorker worker = new BackgroundWorker();
    worker.DoWork += new DoWorkEventHandler(worker_DoWork);
    worker.RunWorkerCompleted += new RunWorkerCompletedEventHandler(worker_RunWorkerCompleted);
    worker.RunWorkerAsync();
}

void worker_RunWorkerCompleted(object sender, RunWorkerCompletedEventArgs e)
{
    // Will cause another exception if an exception didn't occur.
    // We should be checking to see if e.Error is not "null".
    textBox1.Text = "Error? " + e.Error;
}

void worker_DoWork(object sender, DoWorkEventArgs e)
{
    for (int i = 0; i < 10; i++)
    {
        if (i < 5)
        {
            Thread.Sleep(100);
        }
        else
        {
            throw new Exception("BOOM");
        }   
    }
}

Program Output:

Error? System.Exception: BOOM at
BackgroundException.Form1.worker_DoWork(Object
sender, DoWorkEventArgs e) in
D:\Workspaces\Sandbox\BackgroundException\BackgroundException\Form1.cs:line
43 at
System.ComponentModel.BackgroundWorker.OnDoWork(DoWorkEventArgs
e) at
System.ComponentModel.BackgroundWorker.WorkerThreadStart(Object
argument)

An interesting article that looks similar to your question. It has a section on handling exceptions.

http://www.developerdotstar.com/community/node/671

Questions:
Answers:

I had the same problem and i was already applying the Judah answer before i found this topic after some googling.

Well, imo the Judah answer is partially correct. I found a better answer here

The debugger is making the work well, if you run the application in “real-world conditions”, the RunWorkerCompleted deals with the exception as expected and the application behavior is also the expected.

I hope this answer helps.