About the Shell Extensions for .NET Assemblies
These shell extensions were written to help distinguish between .NET assemblies and Win32 libraries, as well as give extra information about the assemblies without having to drop to a command-prompt to use the SDK and CLR tools. These shell extensions function similar to the loader that makes both .NET and VB (pre-.NET) possible as executable code: the PE/COFF header. As such, the library is very fast and won't hinder your file system browsing experience. A recent update further enhances performance by skipping assembly detection on slow paths, such as UNC paths or drive mappings to remote filesystems via VPN.
Provided in this library are:
- Overlay icons for .NET assemblies (.dll)
- Column handlers to show the public key token and specific type of .NET assemblies.
- Automation object for getting the above information in your own applications and libraries.
The Automation Object
Not only does this tool help you distinguish between .NET assemblies and Win32 applications and libraries, but it also provides you with a simple automation object that these shell extensions use.
To generate code from the type library, add a reference or
#import the type library named "AsmShell 1.0 Type Library". Use the members of the
IAssemblyInfo automation interface as follows:
IAssemblyInfo::IsAssembly([in]BSTR path, [out, retval]VARIANT_BOOL* retVal)
true if the specified file is an assembly,
false if it is not, and raises errors when problems occur.
IAssemblyInfo::GetFileType([in]BSTR path, [out, retval]FileType* retVal)
FileType enumeration member depending on the information for the specified file in the PE/COFF header.
IAssemblyInfo::GetPublicKeyToken([in]BSTR path, [out, retval]BSTR* retVal)
Returns the public key token for the specified assembly.
IAssemblyInfo::GetPublicKey([in]BSTR path, [out, retval]SAFEARRAY(BYTE)* retVal)
Returns the public key as a byte array for the specified assembly. This is not supported by JScript or VBScript, both of which only support an array of VARIANTs.
For each method, late-binding languages like Visual Basic will use the return value (marked with [out, retval]) as the return type of the method, also getting rid of the need for the parameter labeled with the specified attributes above.
So, in VB6 and .NET (C#, VB.NET, et. al.), the methods signatures would look like:
bool IsAssembly(string path);
FileType GetFileType(string path);
string GetPublicKeyToken(string path);
byte GetPublicKey(string path);
You may be required to reboot if files being installed are currently loaded. If you have Windows XP and the previous condition is false, no reboot should be necessary. If you're using Windows 98, ME, or 2000, you should either log off and back on or reboot your system if the overlay icon is not present; the column handlers should be ready immediately after the installation is finished.
- November 17, 2005
- Note: late article update for an earlier release
- Added support to display x86 (and MSIL) for assemblies, as well as IA64 and x64
- May 30, 2005
- August 29, 2004
- Added localizability
- String caching for better performance
- Support for .NET modules (.netmodule)
- October 15, 2003
- Added condition that files should not be parsed for slow paths (ex: VPN)
- September 19, 2002
- Initial release to the web on The Code Project
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Heath Stewart is a happily married software engineer originally from the Midwest and a graduate of Iowa State University
. Heath start programming early in life and enjoys continuous research and development in new languages, frameworks, and platforms. Fluent in many different programming languages, he has developed many large-scale software solutions for companies in different areas, such as Internet filtering, intrusion detection systems, production management systems, and web applications for various purposes. He also enjoys photography
Currently, Heath is a Program Manager in the Visual Studio Professional Deployment Experience (VSPro DEX) team at Microsoft
. Previous to his employment, he was a Microsoft MVP
for Visual C#.
He is also a CodeProject protector
and is happy to help the development community.