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Extended Strongly Typed Resource Generator

, 31 Mar 2009 CDDL
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An extended version of a strongly typed resource generator, with formatting support.

Introduction

One of the great new features of the Visual Studio .NET 2005/2008 IDE is a custom tool called ResXFileCodeGenerator that is automatically associated with resources (*.resx files) every time they are added into a project. Whenever your project is rebuilt, a resource file is saved or a custom tool is run manually; the tool in question generates a managed class that exposes every resource you have in the *.resx file as a strongly typed static property. Now, any type of resource supported -- including images, icons, strings, etc. -- is a piece of cake to retrieve.

The two screenshots below illustrate the default properties of a resource file added to Visual Studio .NET 2005, and the Resource.Designer.cs source file which is dependent upon Resource.resx and is automatically generated by the ResXFileCodeGenerator custom tool.

Resource in Solution Explorer Resource properties

All of the properties exposed by the generated class are always static. The class exposes the following properties:

  • The ResourceManager property with the return type System.Resources.ResourceManager, used to access culture-specific resources at runtime.
  • The Culture property with return type System.Globalization.CultureInfo and both the get and set accessors. The set accessor of the Culture property could be used for specifying the requisite culture that the resource is localized for. By default, the Culture property returns null, meaning that the culture information is obtained using Culture's CurrentUICulture property.
  • Properties used for resource access, named as the corresponding resources (property names could be adjusted according to the used code generator requirements). Their types correspond to the resource types in a *.resx file.

Resource editor

If your resource file contains only one string resource (like in the picture above), then the generated class would be like this:

/// <summary>
/// A strongly-typed resource class, for looking up localized strings, etc.
/// </summary>
// This class was auto-generated by the StronglyTypedResourceBuilder
// class via a tool like ResGen or Visual Studio.
// To add or remove a member, edit your .ResX file then rerun ResGen
// with the /str option, or rebuild your VS project.
[GeneratedCodeAttribute("Tools.StronglyTypedResourceBuilder", "2.0.0.0")]
[DebuggerNonUserCodeAttribute()]
[CompilerGeneratedAttribute()]
internal class Resource {
    private static ResourceManager resourceMan;
    private static CultureInfo resourceCulture;
    [SuppressMessageAttribute(
        "Microsoft.Performance", "CA1811:AvoidUncalledPrivateCode")]
    internal Resource() {
    }
    /// <summary>
    ///   Returns the cached ResourceManager instance used by this class.
    /// </summary>
    [EditorBrowsableAttribute(EditorBrowsableState.Advanced)]
    internal static ResourceManager ResourceManager {
        get {
            if (object.ReferenceEquals(resourceMan, null)) {
                ResourceManager temp =
                  new ResourceManager("MyApp.Resource", typeof(Resource).Assembly);
                resourceMan = temp;
            }
            return resourceMan;
        }
    }
    /// <summary>
    ///   Overrides the current thread's CurrentUICulture property for all
    ///   resource lookups using this strongly typed resource class.
    /// </summary>
    [EditorBrowsableAttribute(EditorBrowsableState.Advanced)]
    internal static CultureInfo Culture {
        get {
            return resourceCulture;
        }
        set {
            resourceCulture = value;
        }
    }
    /// <summary>
    ///   Looks up a localized string similar to Message text.
    /// </summary>
    internal static string Message {
        get {
            return ResourceManager.GetString("Message", resourceCulture);
        }
    }
}

Background

Despite the fact that the ResXFileCodeGenerator custom tool simplifies the process of resource access a lot, we can point out the following four major drawbacks:

  • The strongly typed resource classes generated by the ResXFileCodeGenerator custom tool always have internal visibility. Since the generated class is marked as internal, it cannot be accessed from assemblies other than friend assemblies. However, the resgen.exe utility with the /publicClass option generates a strongly typed resource class as a public class, but then all advantages of custom tools are lost in this case.
  • Note: Visual Studio .NET 2008 introduces a new custom tool called PublicResXFileCodeGenerator for generating public resource class wrappers.

  • In most cases, *.resx files contain only strings, including format strings (a string containing zero or more format items) used by the .NET Framework formatting mechanism. It has always been problematic to load a format string from a resource and pass the correct amount of parameters to it. Passing the incorrect amount of parameters does not lead to a compile error, but rather to an annoying runtime error.
  • Thread unsafe initialization of the ResourceManager class instance in the ResourceManager property.
  • Resource names are not accessible through resource class wrappers.
  • Generated resource class wrappers are not compatible with the .NET Compact Framework.

The Extended Strongly Typed Resource Generator

With regard to the above described ResXFileCodeGenerator disadvantages, it was decided to develop an extended version of a strongly typed resource generator that remedies the deficiencies of the existing ResXFileCodeGenerator custom tool.

Using an extended version of the strongly typed resource generator is extremely straightforward, and does not differ from using the resource code generator shipped with Visual Studio .NET 2005 and 2008. The extended strongly typed resource generator is represented by two new custom tools:

  • ResXFileCodeGeneratorEx: A custom tool generating public resource wrappers.
  • InternalResXFileCodeGeneratorEx: A custom tool generating internal resource wrappers

First of all, you have to install and register the extended strongly typed resource generator (e.g., the ResXFileCodeGeneratorEx and InternalResXFileCodeGeneratorEx custom tools) on your box. Please remember that you must have administrator privileges to install and register new Visual Studio .NET custom tools. There are two ways to register the extended strongly typed resource generator on your computer:

  • The preferred way is to download the Windows Installer package and install it to the specific location on your computer. The installer will automatically register the ResXFileCodeGeneratorEx and InternalResXFileCodeGeneratorEx Visual Studio .NET custom tools on your box. It's recommended to unzip the contents of the archive with the installer and run the Setup.exe to launch the installation. This way of installing is compatible with Vista.
  • Get the sources from the provided archive and rebuild them. In case of success, the ResXFileCodeGeneratorEx and InternalResXFileCodeGeneratorEx custom tools will be registered on your PC. To make the tools function properly, you have to keep the build output in the output directory since Visual Studio .NET custom tools are COM objects and should remain in the same directory where they were registered.

After the extended strongly typed resource generator is installed on your box, you have to restart all running instances of Visual Studio .NET 2005 and 2008.

Resource properties with ResXFileCodeGeneratorEx custom tool

From this point on, you can use all the advantages of the extended strongly typed resource generator in your projects. You can manually specify ResXFileCodeGeneratorEx or InternalResXFileCodeGeneratorEx as a custom tool for your resource files, or you can adjust the default Visual Studio .NET 2005/2008 item templates.

Let's take the MyApp project as a real-world example, and add one more resource entry containing a formatted string. The most important step is to change the custom tool name to the extended strongly typed resource generator (ResXFileCodeGeneratorEx or InternalResXFileCodeGeneratorEx). Run the custom tool by either saving the resource file or running the custom tool manually. You have to right-click on the resource file in Visual Studio .NET and choose Run Custom Tool in the drop-down menu.

Resource editor with resources containing format strings

The ResXFileCodeGeneratorEx custom tool generates the resource wrapper class shown in the example below:

/// <summary>
/// A strongly-typed resource class, for looking up localized strings,
/// formatting them, etc.
/// </summary>
// This class was auto-generated by the StronglyTypedResourceBuilderEx class via the
// ResXFileCodeGeneratorEx custom tool. To add or remove a member, edit your .ResX file
// then rerun the ResXFileCodeGeneratorEx custom tool or rebuild your VS.NET project.
// Copyright (c) Dmytro Kryvko 2006-2008 (http://dmytro.kryvko.googlepages.com/)
[GeneratedCodeAttribute
    ("DMKSoftware.CodeGenerators.Tools.StronglyTypedResourceBuilderEx", "2.3.0.0")]
[DebuggerNonUserCodeAttribute()]
[SuppressMessageAttribute
    ("Microsoft.Naming", "CA1724:TypeNamesShouldNotMatchNamespaces")]
public partial class Resource {
    private static ResourceManager _resourceManager;
    private static object _internalSyncObject;
    private static CultureInfo _resourceCulture;
    [SuppressMessageAttribute
    ("Microsoft.Performance", "CA1811:AvoidUncalledPrivateCode")]
    public Resource() {
    }
    /// <summary>
    /// Thread safe lock object used by this class.
    /// </summary>
    public static object InternalSyncObject {
        get {
            if (object.ReferenceEquals(_internalSyncObject, null)) {
                Interlocked.CompareExchange
        (ref _internalSyncObject, new object(), null);
            }
            return _internalSyncObject;
        }
    }
    /// <summary>
    /// Returns the cached ResourceManager instance used by this class.
    /// </summary>
    [EditorBrowsableAttribute(EditorBrowsableState.Advanced)]
    public static ResourceManager ResourceManager {
        get {
            if (object.ReferenceEquals(_resourceManager, null)) {
                Monitor.Enter(InternalSyncObject);
                try {
                    if (object.ReferenceEquals(_resourceManager, null)) {
                        Interlocked.Exchange(ref _resourceManager,
                            new ResourceManager("MyApp.Resource",
                    typeof(Resource).Assembly));
                    }
                }
                finally {
                    Monitor.Exit(InternalSyncObject);
                }
            }
            return _resourceManager;
        }
    }
    /// <summary>
    /// Overrides the current thread's CurrentUICulture property for all
    /// resource lookups using this strongly typed resource class.
    /// </summary>
    [EditorBrowsableAttribute(EditorBrowsableState.Advanced)]
    public static CultureInfo Culture {
        get {
            return _resourceCulture;
        }
        set {
            _resourceCulture = value;
        }
    }
    /// <summary>
    /// Looks up a localized string similar to 'Hello, {0}!'.
    /// </summary>
    public static string Hello {
        get {
            return ResourceManager.GetString(ResourceNames.Hello, _resourceCulture);
        }
    }
    /// <summary>
    /// Looks up a localized string similar to 'Message text'.
    /// </summary>
    public static string Message {
        get {
            return ResourceManager.GetString
        (ResourceNames.Message, _resourceCulture);
        }
    }
    /// <summary>
    /// Formats a localized string similar to 'Hello, {0}!'.
    /// </summary>
    /// <param name="arg0">An object (0) to format.</param>
    /// <returns>A copy of format string in which the format
    /// items have been replaced by the String equivalent of
    /// the corresponding instances of Object in arguments.</returns>
    public static string HelloFormat(object arg0) {
        return string.Format(_resourceCulture, Hello, arg0);
    }
    /// <summary>
    /// Lists all the resource names as constant string fields.
    /// </summary>
    public class ResourceNames {
        /// <summary>
        /// Stores the resource name 'Hello'.
        /// </summary>
        public const string Hello = "Hello";
        /// <summary>
        /// Stores the resource name 'Message'.
        /// </summary>
        public const string Message = "Message";
    }
}

As you can see, the generated class is public, which allows you to make shared resources between assemblies. However, the major difference is that an additional method called HelloFormat has been added. This method is a result of the analysis and validation of the Hello resource entry string value. The extended strongly typed resource generator automatically determines whether a resource string value is a valid .NET Framework format string and generates code correspondingly.

The name of a format method is always generated in the following way: the resource property plus the Format suffix. The number of arguments is calculated automatically, and equals the number of parameters that the String.Format() method expects. On the other hand, there is still a possibility to get the format string using the exposed Hello property. As it was mentioned above, the extended strongly typed resource generator performs format string validation. For example, by mistake, you could write an invalid format string like: Hello, {{0}. The (internal) ResXFileCodeGeneratorEx custom tool will resolve the invalid format and will show you a warning about that. In this particular case, the format method will not be generated, but the resource access property will still remain in the generated class.

Resource generation warning

Another set of small improvements over the standard Visual Studio resource wrapper generator:

  • Absence of [CompilerGeneratedAttribute()] in the resource wrapper class which makes it compatible with the .NET Compact Framework.
  • Generation of the nested class ResourceNames defining all resource names as string constants. The nested class visibility is the same as the visibility of its parent.

Generation of public resource class wrappers suits almost everybody, however, some folks still want to have the ability to generate internal resource wrappers. Therefore, version 2.1 brings in the InternalResXFileCodeGeneratorEx Visual Studio .NET custom tool, generating strongly typed internal resource wrappers. The output of InternalResXFileCodeGeneratorEx is shown in the example below:

/// <summary>
/// A strongly-typed resource class, for looking up localized strings,
/// formatting them, etc.
/// </summary>
// This class was auto-generated by the StronglyTypedResourceBuilderEx class via the
// InternalResXFileCodeGeneratorEx custom tool.
// To add or remove a member, edit your .ResX file
// then rerun the InternalResXFileCodeGeneratorEx custom tool or
// rebuild your VS.NET project.
// Copyright (c) Dmytro Kryvko 2006-2008 (http://dmytro.kryvko.googlepages.com/)
[GeneratedCodeAttribute
    ("DMKSoftware.CodeGenerators.Tools.StronglyTypedResourceBuilderEx", "2.3.0.0")]
[DebuggerNonUserCodeAttribute()]
[SuppressMessageAttribute
    ("Microsoft.Naming", "CA1724:TypeNamesShouldNotMatchNamespaces")]
internal partial class Resource {
    private static ResourceManager _resourceManager;
    private static object _internalSyncObject;
    private static CultureInfo _resourceCulture;
    [SuppressMessageAttribute
    ("Microsoft.Performance", "CA1811:AvoidUncalledPrivateCode")]
    internal Resource() {
    }
    /// <summary>
    /// Thread safe lock object used by this class.
    /// </summary>
    internal static object InternalSyncObject {
        get {
            if (object.ReferenceEquals(_internalSyncObject, null)) {
                Interlocked.CompareExchange
        (ref _internalSyncObject, new object(), null);
            }
            return _internalSyncObject;
        }
    }
    /// <summary>
    /// Returns the cached ResourceManager instance used by this class.
    /// </summary>
    [EditorBrowsableAttribute(EditorBrowsableState.Advanced)]
    internal static ResourceManager ResourceManager {
        get {
            if (object.ReferenceEquals(_resourceManager, null)) {
                Monitor.Enter(InternalSyncObject);
                try {
                    if (object.ReferenceEquals(_resourceManager, null)) {
                        Interlocked.Exchange(ref _resourceManager,
                            new ResourceManager("MyApp.Resource",
                    typeof(Resource).Assembly));
                    }
                }
                finally {
                    Monitor.Exit(InternalSyncObject);
                }
            }
            return _resourceManager;
        }
    }
    /// <summary>
    /// Overrides the current thread's CurrentUICulture property for all
    /// resource lookups using this strongly typed resource class.
    /// </summary>
    [EditorBrowsableAttribute(EditorBrowsableState.Advanced)]
    internal static CultureInfo Culture {
        get {
            return _resourceCulture;
        }
        set {
            _resourceCulture = value;
        }
    }
    /// <summary>
    /// Looks up a localized string similar to 'Hello, {0}!'.
    /// </summary>
    internal static string Hello {
        get {
            return ResourceManager.GetString(ResourceNames.Hello, _resourceCulture);
        }
    }
    /// <summary>
    /// Looks up a localized string similar to 'Message text'.
    /// </summary>
    internal static string Message {
        get {
            return ResourceManager.GetString(ResourceNames.Message, _resourceCulture);
        }
    }
    /// <summary>
    /// Formats a localized string similar to 'Hello, {0}!'.
    /// </summary>
    /// <param name="arg0">An object (0) to format.</param>
    /// <returns>A copy of format string in which the format
    /// items have been replaced by the String equivalent of
    /// the corresponding instances of Object in arguments.</returns>
    internal static string HelloFormat(object arg0) {
        return string.Format(_resourceCulture, Hello, arg0);
    }
    /// <summary>
    /// Lists all the resource names as constant string fields.
    /// </summary>
    internal class ResourceNames {
        /// <summary>
        /// Stores the resource name 'Hello'.
        /// </summary>
        internal const string Hello = "Hello";
        /// <summary>
        /// Stores the resource name 'Message'.
        /// </summary>
        internal const string Message = "Message";
    }
}

History

  • 2.6 - March 30th, 2009
    • Silverlight compatibility has been restored. It was previously broken by the addition of the ObfuscationAttribute() attribute to the class level. Thanks to Eric Smith and r2musings for reporting this issue.
    • J# support has been removed.
  • 2.5 - February 20th, 2009
    • ObfuscationAttribute() has been added to the generated resource wrapper class (thanks to Friedhelm).
    • The issue with missing XML documentation on the resource wrapper class constructor has been addressed (thanks to Casey Barton).
  • 2.4 - October 20th, 2008
    • Visual Studio Express 2005 and 2008 editions support has been added (thanks to Fabien Letort and Ondrej Bohaciak).
  • 2.3 - October 7th, 2008
    • The nested class ResourceNames listing all resource names as constants has been added.
    • Parameterless {PROPERTY_NAME}Format() method generation has been removed. There was some confusion about their presence, so apparently it wasn't a good idea, sorry!
    • Generated resource wrapper classes made partial (thanks to DameonBlack).
    • Silverlight compatibility has been added by making resource wrapper classes' constructors public (thanks to Slyi).
    • The language issue in the setup has been fixed (thanks to Jasoncd).
    • Resource wrapper generation performance has been improved
  • 2.2 - May 24th, 2008
    • The issue with duplicate format methods generated under some circumstances has been fixed (thanks to Doug Richardson).
    • All types are referenced as members of the global space (thanks to Doug Richardson).
    • The missing comment on the InternalSyncObject property has been added (thanks to Jesse Napier).
    • The attributes suppressing code analysis warnings have been added (thanks to Jesse Napier).
    • Code refactoring has been performed.
  • 2.1 - February 14th, 2008
    • The InternalResXFileCodeGeneratorEx custom tool has been added (thanks to Bernd Hoffmann).
    • Generated resource wrapper classes are not sealed anymore (thanks to Andrea from Italy and Miki from Germany).
    • The issue with the SuppressMessage attribute on the resource wrapper class constructor has been fixed.
    • The CompilerGenerated attribute is not used in resource wrapper classes for compatibility with the .NET Compact Framework (thanks to reklats).
    • Parameterless formatting methods have been added (thanks to Dave Apelt).
    • Improved generation of non-string resource fetching properties.
  • 2.0 - February 5th, 2008 (second major release)
    • The issue with non-string property comments is fixed (thanks to Anthony Meehan and Matt Rice).
    • Resource manager initialization is now thread safe (thanks to Borys Byk).
    • Added Visual Studio .NET 2008 compatibility.
  • 1.1 - April 22nd, 2006
    • Improved format method generation according to Steve Hansen's suggestion.
  • 1.0 - April 18th, 2006
    • Initial release.

License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL)

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About the Author

Dmytro Kryvko
Team Leader Corrigo, Inc.
United States United States
Dmytro is Dev. Lead working for Corrigo, Inc. He has been programming for more than 10 years. He is a Microsoft MCSD for Visual C++ and Visual C#.
 
Dmytro's programming experience includes C/C++, MFC, STL, ATL, .NET Framework 1.x/2.0, ASP/ASP.NET, C#, WSE and many other interesting technologies.

Comments and Discussions

 
QuestionVS2012 Access Modifier PinmemberDarek Danielewski27-Feb-14 6:37 
QuestionVisual Studio 2012 PinmemberRobba22-Aug-12 5:16 
AnswerRe: Visual Studio 2012 Pinmemberschmoli3-Sep-12 7:55 
AnswerRe: Visual Studio 2012 [modified] Pinmembersdeniaud18-Sep-12 6:09 
Hi, to make it work in VS2012, you have to :
  • add a member to the enum VsNetVersion with the description "11.0". For instance :
    private enum VsNetVersion
            {
                [Description("9.0")] // VS2008
                V90,
                [Description("10.0")] // VS2010
                V100,
                [Description("11.0")] // VS2012
                V110
            }
  • rebuild the setup (can't be done with VS2012 as vdproj projects are no longer supported, you will need a VS2010 to build the setup).
  • run the setup to install the generator
  • now, most important (and probably the step you were missing), you have to open a Visual Studio Command Prompt and execute devenv /setup so that VS2012 can take the new generator into account (see this link for more details).
Regards.

modified 19-Sep-12 4:39am.

GeneralRe: Visual Studio 2012 PinmemberParag V. Pratapwar18-Aug-14 10:50 
AnswerOr.. Download from here PinmemberEZSlaver28-Sep-13 8:49 
QuestionRe: Or.. Download from here Pinmemberapierini29-Nov-13 5:37 
AnswerRe: Or.. Download from here PinmemberMember 105648801-Feb-14 9:14 
SuggestionTo make a custom tool that launch a t4 template PinmemberJavier Ros11-Jul-12 22:48 
SuggestionResource property summary comments [modified] PinmemberLuna Tick6-Oct-11 8:57 
NewsUsing a T4 template as an alternative to replacing ResXFileCodeGenerator Pinmemberkbaltrinic20-Sep-10 6:23 
GeneralVote this Up On Connect PinmemberJon P10-Aug-10 8:24 
GeneralObfuscation Attribute problem in SL VB.NET application Pinmemberjosipkristus28-Jul-10 22:48 
GeneralDesigner crash on Vista [modified] PinmemberToMaHaWk118719-Jul-10 22:33 
GeneralGenerated code fails Gendarme rule AvoidVisibleConstantFieldRule PinmemberCalum Chisholm (Cresent)5-Apr-10 4:47 
GeneralVS 2010? Will a version be available? When? Thank You Pinmembershapper30-Mar-10 2:39 
QuestionRe: VS 2010? Will a version be available? When? Thank You PinmemberCrusty Applesniffer26-Apr-10 22:11 
GeneralRe: VS 2010? Will a version be available? When? Thank You PinmemberAdriaan30-Dec-10 18:41 
QuestionHow use for Implicit approach? PinmemberMember 211091518-Feb-10 3:47 
QuestionHow to use this tool for Implicit (Form based) Resource files? Any Example? PinmemberMember 211091518-Feb-10 3:34 
GeneralIt seems that Visual Web Developer 2008 Express does not see extended generator. Pinmemberwojtek15903-Feb-10 7:44 
GeneralRe: It seems that Visual Web Developer 2008 Express does not see extended generator. PinmemberAbel Braaksma23-Jul-10 3:49 
GeneralResourceNames internal class generates CA1812 FxCop violation PinmemberPrzemyslaw Wlodarczak1-Feb-10 5:08 
GeneralSuggestion for method name change PinmemberPat McBennett24-Nov-09 1:11 
GeneralMicrosoft's VS2008 PublicResXFileCodeGenerator Pinmemberwilson mar16-Sep-09 3:00 

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