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Dynamically load a class and execute a method in .NET

, 10 Apr 2006
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Dynamically load a class and execute a method.

Introduction

This code drop is part of a smash and grab series. If you're in a rush, you can just grab this code and insert it into your application, no understanding is required. When you have some time (yeah, right), you may want to review the source code.

Background

I needed to load an arbitrary class and execute some methods in it at runtime. I wouldn't know ahead of time what the class or member name was, so I couldn't use a reference in the project. Here is how I did it. Just copy/paste from the code listing below, and away you go.

The code

public class DynaInvoke
{
    // this way of invoking a function
    // is slower when making multiple calls
    // because the assembly is being instantiated each time.
    // But this code is clearer as to what is going on
    public static Object InvokeMethodSlow(string AssemblyName, 
           string ClassName, string MethodName, Object[] args)
    {
      // load the assemly
      Assembly assembly = Assembly.LoadFrom(AssemblyName);

      // Walk through each type in the assembly looking for our class
      foreach (Type type in assembly.GetTypes())
      {
        if (type.IsClass == true)
        {
          if (type.FullName.EndsWith("." + ClassName))
          {
            // create an instance of the object
            object ClassObj = Activator.CreateInstance(type);

            // Dynamically Invoke the method
            object Result = type.InvokeMember(MethodName,
              BindingFlags.Default | BindingFlags.InvokeMethod,
                   null,
                   ClassObj,
                   args);
            return (Result);
          }
        }
      }
      throw (new System.Exception("could not invoke method"));
    }

    // ---------------------------------------------
    // now do it the efficient way
    // by holding references to the assembly
    // and class

    // this is an inner class which holds the class instance info
    public class DynaClassInfo
    {
      public Type type;
      public Object ClassObject;

      public DynaClassInfo()
      {
      }

      public DynaClassInfo(Type t, Object c)
      {
        type = t;
        ClassObject = c;
      }
    }


    public static Hashtable AssemblyReferences = new Hashtable();
    public static Hashtable ClassReferences = new Hashtable();

    public static DynaClassInfo 
           GetClassReference(string AssemblyName, string ClassName)
    {
      if (ClassReferences.ContainsKey(AssemblyName) == false)
      {
        Assembly assembly;
        if (AssemblyReferences.ContainsKey(AssemblyName) == false)
        {
          AssemblyReferences.Add(AssemblyName, 
                assembly = Assembly.LoadFrom(AssemblyName));
        }
        else
          assembly = (Assembly)AssemblyReferences[AssemblyName];

        // Walk through each type in the assembly
        foreach (Type type in assembly.GetTypes())
        {
          if (type.IsClass == true)
          {
            // doing it this way means that you don't have
            // to specify the full namespace and class (just the class)
            if (type.FullName.EndsWith("." + ClassName))
            {
              DynaClassInfo ci = new DynaClassInfo(type, 
                                 Activator.CreateInstance(type));
              ClassReferences.Add(AssemblyName, ci);
              return (ci);
            }
          }
        }
        throw (new System.Exception("could not instantiate class"));
      }
      return ((DynaClassInfo)ClassReferences[AssemblyName]);
    }

    public static Object InvokeMethod(DynaClassInfo ci, 
                         string MethodName, Object[] args)
    {
      // Dynamically Invoke the method
      Object Result = ci.type.InvokeMember(MethodName,
        BindingFlags.Default | BindingFlags.InvokeMethod,
             null,
             ci.ClassObject,
             args);
      return (Result);
    }

    // --- this is the method that you invoke ------------
    public static Object InvokeMethod(string AssemblyName, 
           string ClassName, string MethodName, Object[] args)
    {
      DynaClassInfo ci = GetClassReference(AssemblyName, ClassName);
      return (InvokeMethod(ci, MethodName, args));
    }
  }

Notes

This is how you use it:

// Create an object array consisting of the parameters to the method.
// Make sure you get the types right or the underlying
// InvokeMember will not find the right method
Object [] args = {1, "2", 3.0};
Object Result = DynaInvoke("c:\FullPathToDll.DLL", 
                "ClassName", "MethodName", args);
// cast the result to the type that the method actually returned.

SmashGrab / Redux series

I have recently started two series of articles here at CodeProject. Smash&Grab is intended as a series of short articles on one specific code technique. Redux is intended as a series of longer articles which attempt to reduce a complicated topic (like GridView) into its basic constituent parts and show that once you have all the information, it wasn't really that hard after all. To find Smash&Grab articles, search for the keyword SmashGrab. To find Redux articles, search for the keyword Redux. I welcome any contributions to either series, but please follow the guidelines when submitting articles to either.

License

This article has no explicit license attached to it but may contain usage terms in the article text or the download files themselves. If in doubt please contact the author via the discussion board below.

A list of licenses authors might use can be found here

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About the Author

Gary Dryden
Software Developer (Senior)
Canada Canada
No Biography provided

Comments and Discussions

 
AnswerImproved and Corrected Version PinmemberSBhht1-Jun-11 12:46 
GeneralRe: Improved and Corrected Version Pinmemberwvd_vegt2-May-12 21:51 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pinmemberhdavo15-Feb-11 23:20 
QuestionHey buddy, what about writing working examples??? PinmemberMackovic14-Aug-10 8:59 
GeneralIssue with .NET Compact Framework PinmemberArthur Walker20-Aug-09 10:05 
QuestionNot able to use the first type shown [modified] PinmemberSyed Aslam Basha30-Apr-09 4:39 
Generalcreate addins Pinmemberpune22-Jul-08 18:44 
Generalpassing parameter to class PinmemberFairuz Azah13-Jul-08 21:16 
GeneralPassing parameters to method PinmemberKPTAN21-Feb-08 22:50 
GeneralRe: Passing parameters to method PinmemberGary Dryden22-Feb-08 13:21 
GeneralRe: Passing parameters to method PinmemberKPTAN22-Feb-08 23:06 
GeneralBug! Pinmemberchrkorn22-Feb-07 3:00 
GeneralRe: Bug! PinmemberMember 433446621-Dec-10 7:30 
GeneralRe: Bug! Pinmemberigudipalli21-Dec-10 7:43 
QuestionReload! Pinmemberbassist6-Feb-07 2:52 
QuestionNice. How does this handle "hot swap"? Pinmemberpakora16-Jan-07 13:31 
GeneralWhere are the using's for the project Pinmemberapenaek9-May-06 5:27 
GeneralRe: Where are the using's for the project Pinmembertempsh18-May-07 22:22 
GeneralLittle enhancement Pinmemberkornman0012-Apr-06 15:47 
GeneralRe: Little enhancement PinmemberGary Dryden13-Apr-06 1:45 
QuestionWhy walk types in the assembly? PinmemberStephen Kelley11-Apr-06 16:14 
AnswerRe: Why walk types in the assembly? PinmemberGary Dryden13-Apr-06 1:43 
GeneralRe: Why walk types in the assembly? PinmemberJaap Faber15-Apr-09 21:09 
GeneralExcellent PinmemberHEROSP10-Apr-06 10:47 
GeneralRe: Excellent PinmemberGary Dryden11-Apr-06 2:33 

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