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I am sure Microsoft thought they were being progressive when they replaced the
good ol' .rc file with the XML-based .resX file at the
release of Visual Studio.NET. Unlike its predecessor, when you add a resource
such as a bitmap to a .NET project through the properties of a Windows form,
the actual bitmap binary data is embedded in the associated .resX
file. This does not allow update or modification of the bitmap without removing
and then adding the bitmap again to the form. Also, you can no longer easily
add resources to the assembly not associated with an object managed by the
designers. Microsoft includes a sample application which provides a rudimentary
resource editor function with Visual Studio.NET, but it also only supports
embedding the binary data and does not facilitate easy update of the resources.
The Resource Editor.NET utility is built off this sample application. It
generates a .resources or .resX file which can be embedded in
any .NET assembly project, and it also saves a .resourcesConfig file
which saves the file locations for the resources you added. It currently
supports bitmap, icon and string resources. It has saved countless hours during
usability testing and language adaptation efforts.
Using the Tool
The Resource Editor .NET allows you to add bitmaps, icons and resource strings
to use in your assemblies by making use of the classes in the System.Resources
namespace. When you add a named resource, the full path information for the
object is retained and saved to a .resourcesConfig XML file with the
same name as the .resources or .resX file you specify when
saving your work in the editor. You can then add both files to your
project in the Project Explorer.
FileName="C:\CodeSubmissions\ResourceEditor.NET\images\bt-english.bmp" Value="" />
FileName="C:\CodeSubmissions\ResourceEditor.NET\images\bt-english-na.bmp" Value="" />
FileName="C:\CodeSubmissions\ResourceEditor.NET\images\bt-english-on.bmp" Value="" />
FileName="C:\CodeSubmissions\ResourceEditor.NET\images\bt-english-over.bmp" Value="" />
FileName="C:\CodeSubmissions\ResourceEditor.NET\images\bt-espanol.bmp" Value="" />
FileName="C:\CodeSubmissions\ResourceEditor.NET\images\bt-espanol-na.bmp" Value="" />
FileName="C:\CodeSubmissions\ResourceEditor.NET\images\bt-espanol-on.bmp" Value="" />
FileName="C:\CodeSubmissions\ResourceEditor.NET\images\bt-espanol-over.bmp" Value="" />
FileName="C:\CodeSubmissions\ResourceEditor.NET\images\bt-roundglass.bmp" Value="" />
FileName="C:\CodeSubmissions\ResourceEditor.NET\images\bt-roundglass-na.bmp" Value="" />
FileName="C:\CodeSubmissions\ResourceEditor.NET\images\bt-roundglass-on.bmp" Value="" />
FileName="C:\CodeSubmissions\ResourceEditor.NET\images\bt-roundglass-over.bmp" Value="" />
You can freely rename the resources or change the file specified. When you press
Save, the XML file and the chosen .NET resource binary format file
is generated. You can also just reopen the file to cause any changes to the
referenced bitmap or icon files in the existing locations as specified in the .resourcesConfig
have been modified and you want the changes included in the assembly during the
next build. All you have to do is add the resulting .resources or .resX
file to the project for the assembly you want to embed the resources in.
Using the Tool with Resources Added Through the Forms Designer
Although I don't use this tool for this purpose, you could use it for enabling
refresh for bitmaps or icons associated to objects using the forms designer
built into Visual Studio .NET. This requires one extra step.
First open the default .resX
file created with the form designer to get the resource names into the
Then go through each resource in the editor and re-associate the original file
with the resource name assigned by the forms designer.
Save the resulting file on top of the original .resX file.
Unfortunately, if you add or remove bitmaps or icons afterwards using the forms
designer, you would need to repeat the process to incorporate those
changes. However, you can manipulate the .resourcesConfig XML
file with a text editor to get around this.
Using with Visual Studio .NET
The Resource Editor .NET has two modes. The first is the standard UI mode, where
you open the application to an empty resource set or with an existing .resourcesConfig
file as its first parameter. The second adds the command-line switch /Refresh,
which supresses the GUI but will regenerate the .resources or .resX
file associated with the .resourcesConfig file. The easiest way to use
the tool is to add it as an external tool to Visual Studio .NET. Then when you
select the .resourcesConfig file in the Project Explorer, you can either
refresh or edit the resources from within the Visual Studio environment. The
following two snapshots show how to set the tool up in the IDE.
Adding the Tool for Resource Editing
Adding the Tool for Resource Refresh
As I mentioned briefly before, you can edit the .resourcesConfig
XML file directly in any text editor and then use the Resource Editor .NET to
apply the changes. I make extensive use of this in global renames or
duplication and rename or resources to speed up the process. In fact, I rarely
open the GUI any more unless I am adding one or two resources.
You can use an graphic image file format supported by the .NET Framework
System.Drawing.Bitmap class, you are not restricted to bitmaps. However,
I only tested JPEG and BMP.
The C# source code is provided, but is not necessary to make use of this tool.
However, it does use a PropertyGrid control and shows one way to implement a
custom property editor used to capture and save the file's file name. Or perhaps
you will want to add some additional functionality on your own.
You can use a text editor to make minor modifications to the XML file and use
it to easily manage culture-specific resources when creating localized
applications, such as changing the subdirectory used from ..\en to ..\es to add
an English and Spanish culture to the application.
Due to some quirk the internal resource file name used for the ResourceManager
class turns out to be Filename.Resources.AssemblyName to pull
resources out of the resource files you add to the assembly.
Only string resources use the XML attribute Value in the Resource