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.NET - Determine Whether an Assembly was compiled in Debug Mode

, 14 Apr 2010 CPOL 11.3K 4
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Finding out whether an assembly was compiled in Debug or Release mode is a task we must do from time to time...

Finding out whether an assembly was compiled in Debug or Release mode is a task we must do from time to time.

I know two ways to accomplish this:

Either attributes are applied to Assemblies and can be found in the Assembly Manifest but there are major differences between them:

  • AssemblyConfigurationAttribute must be added by the programmer but is human readable.
  • DebuggableAttribute is added automatically and is always present but is not human readable

You can easily get the Assembly Manifest by using the amazing ILDASM from your Visual Studio Studio Command Prompt:



And if you double click the MANIFEST item, you will get all manifest data.

Looking carefully, you will find the DebuggableAttribute:


And perhaps the AssemblyConfigurationAttribute:



Locate the AssemblyConfigurationAttribute – this attribute can be easily interpreted: its value can either be Debug or Release.



If AssemblyConfigurationAttribute is not present, then we must use the DebuggableAttribute to achieve our goal.

Since we cannot understand the DebuggableAttribute value, we have to open the assembly from another tool and read this attribute content. There’s no such tool available out-of-the-box but we can easily create a Command Line tool and use a method similar to:

private bool IsAssemblyDebugBuild(string filepath)
    return IsAssemblyDebugBuild(Assembly.LoadFile(Path.GetFullPath(filepath)));
private bool IsAssemblyDebugBuild(Assembly assembly)
    foreach (var attribute in assembly.GetCustomAttributes(false))    
        var debuggableAttribute = attribute as DebuggableAttribute;        
        if (debuggableAttribute != null)        
            return debuggableAttribute.IsJITTrackingEnabled;        
    return false;

or (if you prefer LINQ):

private bool IsAssemblyDebugBuild(Assembly assembly)
    return assembly.GetCustomAttributes(false).Any(x => 
	(x as DebuggableAttribute) != null ? 
	(x as DebuggableAttribute).IsJITTrackingEnabled : false);

As you can see … it’s pretty simple.


Typically, I add a pre-build task to my build server so that the AssemblyConfigurationAttribute is added to the CommonAssemblyInfo file with the appropriated value: either “Debug” or “Release”. This way anyone can easily see, using only the ILDASM, which kind of compilation was used to generate my assemblies.


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


About the Author

Nuno M. F. Gomes
Software Developer (Senior)
Portugal Portugal
Nuno Gomes currently works as a Senior Developer for one of the major portuguese banks.

Gomes graduated from Instituto Superior Tecnico with a Electronics and Computers degree in 1999.

His daily work main focus is, since 2003, on ASP.NET. A true .NET developer with great passion for the simple solution.

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Comments and Discussions

QuestionReflector shows Debuggable attributes Pin
Michael Freidgeim16-Oct-11 14:20
memberMichael Freidgeim16-Oct-11 14:20 

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