InternalsVisibleToAttribute Class

Definition

Specifies that types that are ordinarily visible only within the current assembly are visible to a specified assembly.

[System.AttributeUsage(System.AttributeTargets.Assembly, AllowMultiple=true, Inherited=false)]
public sealed class InternalsVisibleToAttribute : Attribute
Inheritance
InternalsVisibleToAttribute
Attributes

Inherited Members

System.Attribute

System.Object

Examples

Signed assemblies

The following example uses the InternalsVisibleToAttribute attribute to make an internal method named AppendDirectorySeparator in a signed assembly visible to another signed assembly. It defines a FileUtilities class that includes an internal AppendDirectorySeparator method. The InternalsVisibleToAttribute attribute is applied to the assembly that contains the FileUtilities class. The attribute allows an assembly named Friend1 to access this internal member.

//
// The source code should be saved in a file named Example1.cs. It 
// can be compiled at the command line as follows:
//
//    csc /t:library /keyfile:<snkfilename> Assembly1.cs
//
// The public key of the Friend1 file should be changed to the full
// public key stored in your strong-named key file.
//
using System;
using System.IO;
using System.Runtime.CompilerServices;

[assembly: InternalsVisibleTo("Friend1, PublicKey=002400000480000094" + 
                              "0000000602000000240000525341310004000" +
                              "001000100bf8c25fcd44838d87e245ab35bf7" +
                              "3ba2615707feea295709559b3de903fb95a93" +
                              "3d2729967c3184a97d7b84c7547cd87e435b5" +
                              "6bdf8621bcb62b59c00c88bd83aa62c4fcdd4" +
                              "712da72eec2533dc00f8529c3a0bbb4103282" +
                              "f0d894d5f34e9f0103c473dce9f4b457a5dee" +
                              "fd8f920d8681ed6dfcb0a81e96bd9b176525a" +
                              "26e0b3")]

public class FileUtilities
{
   internal static string AppendDirectorySeparator(string dir)
   {
      if (! dir.Trim().EndsWith(Path.DirectorySeparatorChar.ToString()))
         return dir.Trim() + Path.DirectorySeparatorChar;
      else
         return dir;
   }
}
'
' The source code should be saved in a file named Example1.cs. It 
' can be compiled at the command line as follows:
'
'    vbc Assembly1.vb /t:library /keyfile:<snkfilename> 
'
' The public key of the Friend1 file should be changed to the full
' public key stored in your strong-named key file.
'
Imports System.IO
Imports System.Runtime.CompilerServices

<Assembly:InternalsVisibleTo("Friend1, PublicKey=002400000480000094" + _
                             "0000000602000000240000525341310004000" + _
                             "001000100bf8c25fcd44838d87e245ab35bf7" + _
                             "3ba2615707feea295709559b3de903fb95a93" + _
                             "3d2729967c3184a97d7b84c7547cd87e435b5" + _
                             "6bdf8621bcb62b59c00c88bd83aa62c4fcdd4" + _
                             "712da72eec2533dc00f8529c3a0bbb4103282" + _
                             "f0d894d5f34e9f0103c473dce9f4b457a5dee" + _
                             "fd8f920d8681ed6dfcb0a81e96bd9b176525a" + _
                             "26e0b3")>

Public Class FileUtilities
   Friend Shared Function AppendDirectorySeparator(dir As String) As String
      If Not dir.Trim().EndsWith(Path.DirectorySeparatorChar) Then
         Return dir.Trim() + Path.DirectorySeparatorChar
      Else
         Return dir
      End If   
   End Function
End Class

If the following example is compiled into a strong-named assembly named Friend1, the Example.Main method in Friend1 can successfully call the FileUtilities.AppendDirectorySeparator method, although the method is internal to the Assembly1 assembly. Note that if you are compiling in C# from the command line, you must use the /out compiler switch to ensure that the name of the friend assembly is available when the compiler binds to external references.

//
// The assembly that exposes its internal types to this assembly should be
// named Assembly1.dll.
//
// The public key of this assembly should correspond to the public key
// specified in the class constructor of the InternalsVisibleTo attribute in the
// Assembly1 assembly.
//
#using <Assembly1.dll> as_friend

using namespace System;

void main()
{
   String^ dir = L"C:\\Program Files";
   dir = FileUtilities::AppendDirectorySeparator(dir);
   Console::WriteLine(dir);
}
// The example displays the following output:
//       C:\Program Files\
//
// The source code should be saved in a file named Friend1.cs. It 
// can be compiled at the command line as follows:
//
//    csc /r:Assembly1.dll /keyfile:<snkfilename> /out:Friend1.dll Friend1.cs
//
// The public key of the Friend1 assembly should correspond to the public key
// specified in the class constructor of the InternalsVisibleTo attribute in the
// Assembly1 assembly.
//
using System;

public class Example
{
   public static void Main()
   {
      string dir = @"C:\Program Files";
      dir = FileUtilities.AppendDirectorySeparator(dir);
      Console.WriteLine(dir);
   }
}
// The example displays the following output:
//       C:\Program Files\
'
' The source code should be saved in a file named Friend1.vb. It 
' can be compiled at the command line as follows:
'
'    vbc Friend1.vb /r:Assembly1.dll /keyfile:<snkfilename> 
'
' The public key of the Friend1 assembly should correspond to the public key
' specified in the class constructor of the InternalsVisibleTo attribute in the
' Assembly1 assembly.
'
Module Example
   Public Sub Main()
      Dim dir As String = "C:\Program Files"
      dir = FileUtilities.AppendDirectorySeparator(dir)
      Console.WriteLine(dir)
   End Sub
End Module
' The example displays the following output:
'       C:\Program Files\

Unsigned assemblies

The following example uses the InternalsVisibleToAttribute attribute to make an internal member of an unsigned assembly visible to another unsigned assembly. The attribute ensures that the internal StringLib.IsFirstLetterUpperCase method in an assembly named UtilityLib is visible to the code in an assembly named Friend2. The following is the source code for UtilityLib.dll:

using System;
using System.Runtime.CompilerServices;

[assembly: InternalsVisibleToAttribute("Friend2")]

namespace Utilities.StringUtilities
{
   public class StringLib
   {
      internal static bool IsFirstLetterUpperCase(String s)
      {
         string first = s.Substring(0, 1);
         return first == first.ToUpper();
      }
   }
}

Imports System.Runtime.CompilerServices

<assembly: InternalsVisibleTo("Friend2")>

Namespace Utilities.StringUtilities
   Public Class StringLib
      Friend Shared Function IsFirstLetterUpperCase(s As String) As Boolean
         Dim first As String = s.Substring(0, 1)
         Return first = first.ToUpper()
      End Function
   End Class
End Namespace

The following example provides the source code for the Friend2 assembly. Note that if you are compiling in C# from the command line, you must use the /out compiler switch to ensure that the name of the friend assembly is available when the compiler binds to external references.

#using <UtilityLib.dll> as_friend

using namespace System;
using namespace Utilities::StringUtilities;

void main()
{
   String^ s = "The Sign of the Four";
   Console::WriteLine(StringLib::IsFirstLetterUpperCase(s));
}
using System;
using Utilities.StringUtilities;

public class Example
{
   public static void Main()
   {
      String s = "The Sign of the Four";
      Console.WriteLine(StringLib.IsFirstLetterUpperCase(s));
   }
}
Imports Utilities.StringUtilities

Module Example
   Public Sub Main()
      Dim s As String = "The Sign of the Four"
      Console.WriteLine(StringLib.IsFirstLetterUpperCase(s))
   End Sub
End Module

Remarks

Ordinarily, types and members with internal scope (in C#) and friend scope (in Visual Basic) are visible only in the assembly in which they are defined. The InternalsVisibleToAttribute attribute makes them also visible to the types in a specified assembly, which is known as a friend assembly.

The attribute is applied at the assembly level. This means that it can be included at the beginning of a source code file, or it can be included in the AssemblyInfo file in a Visual Studio project. You can use the attribute to specify a single friend assembly that can access the internal types and members of the current assembly. You can define multiple friend assemblies in two ways. They can appear as individual assembly-level attributes, as the following example illustrates.

[assembly:InternalsVisibleTo("Friend1a")]
[assembly:InternalsVisibleTo("Friend1b")]
<assembly:InternalsVisibleTo("Friend1a")>
<assembly:InternalsVisibleTo("Friend1b")>

They can also appear with separate InternalsVisibleToAttribute tags but a single assembly keyword, as the following example illustrates.

[assembly:InternalsVisibleTo("Friend2a"), 
          InternalsVisibleTo("Friend2b")]
<Assembly:InternalsVisibleTo("Friend2a"), _
 Assembly:InternalsVisibleTo("Friend2b")>

The friend assembly is identified by the InternalsVisibleToAttribute constructor. Both the current assembly and the friend assembly must be unsigned, or both assemblies must be signed with a strong name.

If both assemblies are unsigned, the assemblyName argument consists of the name of the friend assembly, specified without a directory path or file name extension.

If both assemblies are signed with a strong name, the argument to the InternalsVisibleToAttribute constructor must consist of the name of the assembly without its directory path or file name extension, along with the full public key (and not its public key token). To get the full public key of a strong-named assembly, see the Getting the full public key section later in this article. For more information about using InternalsVisibleToAttribute with strong-named assemblies, see the InternalsVisibleToAttribute constructor.

Do not include values for the CultureInfo, Version, or ProcessorArchitecture field in the argument; the Visual Basic, C#, and C++ compilers treat this as a compiler error. If you use a compiler that does not treat it as an error (such as the IL Assembler (ILAsm.exe)) and the assemblies are strong-named, a MethodAccessException exception is thrown the first time the specified friend assembly accesses the assembly that contains the InternalsVisibleToAttribute attribute.

For more information about how to use this attribute, see the following topics:

Getting the full public key

You can use the Strong Name Tool (Sn.exe) to retrieve the full public key from a strong-named key (.snk) file. To do this, you perform the following steps:

  1. Extract the public key from the strong-named key file to a separate file:

    Sn -p snk_file outfile

  2. Display the full public key to the console:

    Sn -tp outfile

  3. Copy and paste the full public key value into your source code.

Compiling the friend assembly with C#

If you use the C# compiler to compile the friend assembly, you must explicitly specify the name of the output file (.exe or .dll) by using the /out compiler option. This is required because the compiler has not yet generated the name for the assembly it is building at the time it is binding to external references. The /out compiler option is optional for the Visual Basic compiler, and the corresponding -out or -o compiler option should not be used when compiling friend assemblies with the F# compiler.

Compiling the friend assembly with C++

In C++, in order to make the internal members enabled by the InternalsVisibleToAttribute attribute accessible to a friend assembly, you must use the as_friend attribute in the C++ directive. For more information, see Friend Assemblies (C++).

Constructors

InternalsVisibleToAttribute(String)

Initializes a new instance of the InternalsVisibleToAttribute class with the name of the specified friend assembly.

Properties

AllInternalsVisible

This property is not implemented.

AssemblyName

Gets the name of the friend assembly to which all types and type members that are marked with the internal keyword are to be made visible.