Jeffrey Richter: Excerpt #2 from CLR via C#, Third Edition

Good morning, Jeffrey Richter here. My new book, CLR via C#, Third Edition (Microsoft Press, 2010; ISBN: 9780735627048), should be available via online retailers by February 15.  (Microsoft Press will alert you here when it is.)

Today I thought I’d share a section a section from Chapter 23, “Assembly Loading and Reflection,” with you. This section discusses how to embed your application’s dependent DLLs inside your EXE file, simplifying deployment by allowing you to distribute just one physical file.

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Many applications consist of an EXE file that depends on many DLL files. When deploying this application, all the files must be deployed. However, there is a technique that you can use to deploy just a single EXE file. First, identify all the DLL files that your EXE file depends on that do not ship as part of the Microsoft .NET Framework itself. Then add these DLLs to your Visual Studio project. For each DLL file you add, display its properties and change its “Build Action” to “Embedded Resource.” This causes the C# compiler to embed the DLL file(s) into your EXE file, and you can deploy this one EXE file.

At runtime, the CLR won’t be able to find the dependent DLL assemblies, which is a problem. To fix this, when your application initializes, register a callback method with the AppDomain’s ResolveAssembly event. The code should look something like this:

AppDomain.CurrentDomain.AssemblyResolve += (sender, args) => {

   String resourceName = "AssemblyLoadingAndReflection." +

      new AssemblyName(args.Name).Name + ".dll";

   using (var stream = Assembly.GetExecutingAssembly().GetManifestResourceStream(resourceName)) {

      Byte[] assemblyData = new Byte[stream.Length];

      stream.Read(assemblyData, 0, assemblyData.Length);

      return Assembly.Load(assemblyData);



Now, the first time a thread calls a method that references a type in a dependent DLL file, the AssemblyResolve event will be raised and the callback code shown above will find the embedded DLL resource desired and load it by calling an overload of Assembly’s Load method that takes a Byte[] as an argument.


Jeffrey Richter ( )