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Shell Extensions for .NET Assemblies

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17 Nov 2005Ms-PL3 min read 183.8K   2.6K   81   41
Shell extensions to distinguish between .NET assemblies and Win32 applications and libraries.

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:

  1. Overlay icons for .NET assemblies (.dll)

    Overlay icon 

  2. Column handlers to show the public key token and specific type of .NET assemblies.

    Column handlers 

  3. 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)
    Returns 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)
    Returns a 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:

C#
bool IsAssembly(string path);
FileType GetFileType(string path);
string GetPublicKeyToken(string path);
byte[] GetPublicKey(string path);

Requirements

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.

Changes

  • 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

Disclaimer

THIS SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS" AND ANY EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE ARE DISCLAIMED. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHOR OR HIS CONTRIBUTORS BE LIABLE FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, EXEMPLARY, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES (INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, PROCUREMENT OF SUBSTITUTE GOODS OR SERVICES; LOSS OF USE, DATA, OR PROFITS; OR BUSINESS INTERRUPTION) HOWEVER CAUSED AND ON ANY THEORY OF LIABILITY, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, STRICT LIABILITY, OR TORT (INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE OR OTHERWISE) ARISING IN ANY WAY OUT OF THE USE OF THIS SOFTWARE, EVEN IF ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGE.

License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Microsoft Public License (Ms-PL)


Written By
Software Developer Microsoft
United States United States
Principal Software Engineer currently working on Azure SDKs at Microsoft. My opinions are my own. I work on a number of OSS projects for work and personally in numerous languages including C++, C#, JavaScript, Go, Rust, et. al. See a problem, fix a problem (or at least create an issue)!

Avid outdoor adventurer πŸ”οΈβ„οΈπŸ‘žπŸš΄β€β™‚οΈ, husband, father.

Comments and Discussions

 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
Manoj Kumar Choubey28-Feb-12 18:27
professionalManoj Kumar Choubey28-Feb-12 18:27 
General64 bit support Pin
tonyt12-Apr-10 9:21
tonyt12-Apr-10 9:21 
GeneralDoes not work an Vista Pin
User 36657125-Jun-08 7:39
User 36657125-Jun-08 7:39 
General[Message Removed] Pin
nompel1-Oct-08 7:40
nompel1-Oct-08 7:40 
GeneralVS 2005 crashing Pin
Miroslav Havram6-May-06 16:14
Miroslav Havram6-May-06 16:14 
GeneralRe: VS 2005 crashing Pin
Heath Stewart8-May-06 6:14
protectorHeath Stewart8-May-06 6:14 
GeneralRe: VS 2005 crashing Pin
Miroslav Havram8-May-06 11:14
Miroslav Havram8-May-06 11:14 
GeneralGreat DLL and Handy tool Pin
DanielBrownAU25-Apr-06 3:18
professionalDanielBrownAU25-Apr-06 3:18 
QuestionOld MSI Necessary to Install New Version? Pin
Stephen Quattlebaum13-Oct-05 4:51
Stephen Quattlebaum13-Oct-05 4:51 
AnswerRe: Old MSI Necessary to Install New Version? Pin
Heath Stewart13-Oct-05 5:01
protectorHeath Stewart13-Oct-05 5:01 
AnswerRe: Old MSI Necessary to Install New Version? Pin
Stephen Quattlebaum14-Oct-05 7:40
Stephen Quattlebaum14-Oct-05 7:40 
GeneralRe: Old MSI Necessary to Install New Version? Pin
Heath Stewart14-Oct-05 7:59
protectorHeath Stewart14-Oct-05 7:59 
GeneralInterface Pin
hipsvin29-Sep-05 0:41
hipsvin29-Sep-05 0:41 
AnswerRe: Interface Pin
Heath Stewart29-Sep-05 5:45
protectorHeath Stewart29-Sep-05 5:45 
GeneralRe: Interface Pin
hipsvin29-Sep-05 22:39
hipsvin29-Sep-05 22:39 
AnswerRe: Interface Pin
Heath Stewart30-Sep-05 10:33
protectorHeath Stewart30-Sep-05 10:33 
GeneralRe: Interface Pin
hipsvin30-Sep-05 13:59
hipsvin30-Sep-05 13:59 
AnswerRe: Interface Pin
Heath Stewart30-Sep-05 19:48
protectorHeath Stewart30-Sep-05 19:48 
GeneralRe: Interface Pin
hipsvin3-Oct-05 1:45
hipsvin3-Oct-05 1:45 
AnswerRe: Interface Pin
Heath Stewart3-Oct-05 8:40
protectorHeath Stewart3-Oct-05 8:40 
GeneralRe: Interface Pin
hipsvin3-Oct-05 10:36
hipsvin3-Oct-05 10:36 
GeneralIcon Location Pin
Sameers Javed25-Sep-05 10:40
Sameers Javed25-Sep-05 10:40 
GeneralRe: Icon Location Pin
Heath Stewart25-Sep-05 14:54
protectorHeath Stewart25-Sep-05 14:54 
GeneralRe: Icon Location Pin
Sameers Javed26-Sep-05 0:21
Sameers Javed26-Sep-05 0:21 
AnswerRe: Icon Location Pin
Heath Stewart26-Sep-05 4:24
protectorHeath Stewart26-Sep-05 4:24 

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