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Product Reviews Review: But the real story here is the. NET Reflector is a decompiler and class browser that has helped developers examine. NET assemblies and methods since the launch of the Microsoft.
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Table 2 Dependencies displayed for each item category. Note that the dependency panel is not dynamically linked to your selection in the assembly browser. In contrast, the decompilation panel and the signature panel are dynamically linked so when you change your selection those panels change at the same time. The contents of the dependency panel are static, generated just at the time you invoke the analyzer.

And in fact, if you then select a different item in the assembly browser and run the analyzer on that, it is added to the end of the list of items in the dependency panel, allowing you to then browse as many items as you care to include. The quickest way to delete the entire list is to simply close the panel. The next time you invoke the analyzer it will re-open with only the item you have just selected.

There are a variety of Reflector add-ins that provide graphical and other perspectives on dependencies as well: VS Extension: Within Visual Studio, there is no specific support for viewing dependencies. However, by examining the standard list of project references displays the same list as the Depends On list for the desktop. View Dependencies graph Reflector Desktop: The Assembly Visualizer add-in from Denis Markelov provides several graphical perspectives, including one to view assembly dependencies as a directed graph.

Once you install the add-in-see the discussion under Extending Reflector-you will have several new context menu entries to access different views provided by Assembly Visualizer.

To view the dependency graph, select the top-level node of one of the assemblies of interest in the assembly browser, then select Browse Dependencies from the context menu. Assembly Visualizer then analyzes that assembly and all its interconnections-and I do mean all, going through every nook and cranny of the. NET framework. It opens with a diagram like that in the top panel of Figure 1, which is impressive but not terribly useful.

In this example, I had loaded interconnected assemblies from my CleanCode open-source library and wanted to see what the add-in would do with them. Given the available controls of the add-in I quickly realized the best approach was one of elimination: When you start typing you can then select all the assemblies found by just pressing enter in the search box Point 2.

Once selected, use Remove Selected to delete all those to remove the clutter Point 3 , leaving just the ones of interested in the lower panel. You can also rearrange the graph just by dragging, as I did to get the nice top-to-bottom ordering shown in the figure. Figure 1 Dependency browser from Assembly Visualizer reveals assembly interrelations. View Ancestry Reflector Desktop: The Assembly Visualizer add-in from Denis Markelov helps you here too.

Each intervening class may be expanded or collapsed to view its inherited members. To view the ancestry, select a type class in the assembly browser, then select Browse Ancestry from the context menu.

Figure 2 Ancestry browser from Assembly Visualizer reveals type provenance. View Type Hierarchy Reflector Desktop: The Assembly Visualizer add-in lets you view the hierarchy of a type as a directed graph, i. To view the hierarchy of a type, select a type class in the assembly browser, then select Visualize Descendants from the context menu. The top panel in Figure 3 shows the result for the framework type TraceListener, interesting because it has three direct descendants plus three others once removed for a total of six descendants.

If you select Back to Search so named because often you get here from the Search view , you get the hierarchy summarized, as indicated in the lower panel of the figure.

Figure 3 Descendants browser from Assembly Visualizer reveals both direct and indirect descendants of a given type. Extract Resources from an Assembly Reflector Desktop: If your project includes resources it saves those as well into a file with a. For things like string resources, those are accessible within the XML of the. Note that there are Reflector plugins available that sound like they might be able to streamline this a bit- FileGenerator or Resource Extractor come to mind-but they only do what Reflector does, save the.

More… This concludes an examination of the second group of Reflector features. Refer to the companion wallchart to see the full list, and continue with the details in part 4. Subscribe for more articles Fortnightly newsletters help sharpen your skills and keep you ahead, with articles, ebooks and opinion to keep you informed.

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NET Reflector But the problem with using code you didn’t write is that you’re dependent on the documentation, and it’s hard to debug. Documentation is often missing or incomplete, and debugging stops where your own code stops. This gets even worse with a legacy code base. NET Reflector saves time and simplifies development by letting you see and debug into the source of all the. NET code you work with. Look inside any.

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