In relation with my previous post about string.GetHashCode being used in AJAXControlToolkit’s ToolkitScriptManager class, I wanted to talk about object.GetHashCode in general, and string.GetHashCode specifically.

string.GetHashCode documentation states:

“The behavior of GetHashCode is dependent on its implementation, which might change from one version of the common language runtime to another. A reason why this might happen is to improve the performance of GetHashCode.”

The real conclusion from this paragraph is that you shouldn’t base your implementation on string.GetHashCode. But this is a bit too harsh since GetHashCode in general and string.GetHashCode specifically are being used throughout the runtime for internal things.

As long as you don’t share this hash code outside the boundry of the AppDomain its relatively safe to use.

The reason you cannot (or should I say should not) pass it across an AppDomain boundry is that the basic implemenetation of object.GetHashCode is to return an integer representing the reference id of the object in the .NET runtime. That reference is not guarenteed to be the same for the same object in a different appdomain/process/machine.

In the case of string.GetHashCode, where the implementation differ from the default one, you can pass it across AppDomains and even machines (though you shouldn’t count on that as well!) as long as they are in the same architecture, i.e., 32bit to 32bit and 64bit to 64bit.

All in all, the most recommend way of using x.GetHashCode is simply not using it at all. There are numerous implementations of hashing functions built into .NET (such as MD5, SHA1, SHA256, etc) which are more consistent but may be a bit more expensive computation wise.

For all your outward facing code I would recommend using one of the common and known hashing functions specifically if this is a case where the code on the other side needs to recompute the hash and compare it with the hash value being passed.