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C# An Example of a COM Parser, Embed COM Interface DLLs in a *.cs file

, 21 Jan 2011 CPOL
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This is an example of how you may take a COM *.dll file, and binary-embed it inside your C# project as a *.cs file. You can create a fully functional COM interface in managed enviroment using the steps described in the project.


I wanted to prove that I can take any external COM Interface DLL and make it into a C# class object that can be used internally instead of Dynamically linking it.

When you add a resource COM interface, you actually dynamically link your project with a DLL file that will later show up in your project compilation output directory ..\bin\debug or ..\bin\release. In my opinion, this is not clean coding especially when you are using external DLLs that you have a license to use but don't want others to use them without a license. There are a few applications out there that can 'embed' your DLL files inside your executable, but those are just wrappers. What I'd like to demonstrate here is how we go back from Managed C# coding to the beginning of it all: Binary..


What I have done is to create a simple [took me less than 2 hours] COM/DLL parser that can take any external COM *.dll resource file and convert it into Binary and then back into Managed C# code using the 'System' and 'System.Reflection' Namespaces and even add the COM classes and functions as C# methods.

The main objective is to convert the entire DLL into managed code!

The parser is not complete, of course, since it's just an example, but it is living proof that even with managed code you can access and embed the low-level binaries. So it's nice and you may (or not) even learn something. I hope someone will see this as a challenge and continue this parser, since it's a lot of 'dirty work', it's not hard enough to be interesting, and I'm too lazy to complete all the options (interfaces, variables, enums, etc... and then recursion of it all (classes inside classes and so on...)). But the main engine is already built, so...

Using the Code

I added the entire solution, and a demo executable. The entire parser is just a small class that uses the System.Reflection.Assembly to rebuild the DLL file back from binary after I embed the binary itself inside the C# file. After that, you may parse and use the DLL classes and methods as if you are using any other C# method, internally.

Points of Interest

This is a project output example, the highlighted file is the Shell32.dll:

The DLL file, in this example: Shell32.dll

This is after I parsed and saved the DLL as a CS file, I created Shell32.cs that should maintain all the functionality of the DLL file:

The CS file that can be included in your project, in this example: Shell32.cs

This is a screenshot of the compiler, loading the Shell32.dll file:

Loading the Shell32.dll file

This is a screenshot of the compiler, after it parsed the Shell32.dll file:

Parsing the Shell32.dll file

Then you save the 'DLL' file as a C# Shell32.cs file:

Saving the Shell32.cs file

And it's that simple.


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


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Comments and Discussions

GeneralReason for my vote of 5 Nice tip! PinmvpManfred R. Bihy25-Jan-11 11:22 
GeneralReason for my vote of 5 Great idea! This way one can zip COM... Pinmembercarga25-Jan-11 2:35 
GeneralRe: Or download the compatible dll (after you figure out the sys... PinmemberDarki69925-Jan-11 8:48 
GeneralReason for my vote of 4 nice article PinmemberKong-Chang Jie24-Jan-11 12:22 
GeneralReason for my vote of 4 ??? PinmemberKong-Chang Jie24-Jan-11 12:16 
GeneralI gave him a 1 because this is a terrible idea. 1) it makes... PinmemberSledgeHammer0121-Jan-11 9:43 
GeneralRe: It is expensive, and it's does make the executable a tad lar... PinmemberDarki69924-Jan-11 11:09 
GeneralReason for my vote of 5 Innovative! Pinmembergparaskevas21-Jan-11 3:33 
GeneralYou talk about an interpreter, that sounds pretty "hard and ... PinmvpEspen Harlinn20-Jan-11 22:16 
GeneralWhile not uninteresting (codegen is always is interesting), ... Pinmemberleppie20-Jan-11 18:49 
GeneralMy vote of 4: As stated above, I don't think that downvotin... PinmemberCDP180220-Jan-11 13:59 
GeneralYou are a bit hard on him. He wants to embed the DLL into th... PinmemberCDP180220-Jan-11 13:25 
GeneralRe: Check out my solution for that in 'Alternate 1' I added. Thi... PinmemberDarki69925-Jan-11 14:12 
GeneralReason for my vote of 1 I don't get it. Why would you do thi... PinmemberSledgeHammer0120-Jan-11 11:09 
GeneralRe: The main reason for this example is to explain how to embed ... PinmemberDarki69924-Jan-11 10:59 

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