What is a .Net Assembly


The .NET assembly is the standard for components developed with the Microsoft.NET. Dot NET assemblies may or may not be executable, i.e., they might exist as the executable (.exe) file or dynamic link library (DLL) file. All the .NET assemblies contain the definition of types, versioning information for the type, meta-data, and manifest. The designers of .NET have worked a lot on the component (assembly) resolution.

.net assemblies

There are two kind of assemblies in .NET; private and shared. Private assemblies are simple and copied with each calling assemblies in the calling assemblies folder. Shared assemblies (also called strong named assemblies) are copied to a single location (usually the Global assembly cache). For all calling assemblies within the same application, the same copy of the shared assembly is used from its original location. Hence, shared assemblies are not copied in the private folders of each calling assembly. Each shared assembly has a four part name including its face name, version, public key token and culture information. The public key token and version information makes it almost impossible for two different assemblies with the same name or for two similar assemblies with different version to mix with each other.

An assembly can be a single file or it may consist of the multiple files. In case of multi-file, there is one master module containing the manifest while other assemblies exist as non-manifest modules. A module in .NET is a sub part of a multi-file .NET assembly. Assembly is one of the most interesting and extremely useful areas of .NET architecture along with reflections and attributes, but unfortunately very few people take interest in learning such theoretical looking topics.

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