A popular tool that's been around since the inception of the .NET Framework, .NET Reflector uses a process called 'reflection' to enable developers to decompile and disassemble code to C#, Visual Basic and IL to better understand the inner workings of .NET assemblies. The tooling is most often used to debug source code and diagnose performance issues. The latest version of the free tooling adds support for .NET 4 assemblies and enables developers to go directly to a class or method in .NET Reflector as they are working on code in Visual Studio.
According to Andrew Clarke, author of .NET Reflector: Soup to Nuts published by Red Gate's simple-talk community service:
"This current version supports query expressions and other concepts introduced in C# 3.5 but only if you select ".NET 3.5" as the optimisation within the menu (under View |Options | Disassembler | Optimization). NET 4.0 is now supported but it doesn't yet decompile to C# 4.0 language features. However, all the .NET 4 assemblies can be browsed. The Open Cache dialog now shows you all the assemblies in .NET's Global Assembly Cache (GAC)."
Red Gate Software took over development of .NET Reflector from its creator Lutz Roeder in August 2008. Licensing is still free for anyone who registers. The software is not open source, but several open source add-ins are available on Microsoft CodePlex.
.NET Reflector Pro is an optional module for purchase that allows developers to debug third party assemblies (without obfuscation) using Visual Studio tooling, including the new IntelliTrace feature that supports historical debugging in VS 2010. The professional tool is part of the .NET Reflector V6 download, and can be accessed from within Visual Studio as an extension.
Like the community version, .NET Reflector Pro supports .NET 1.0, 1.1, 2.0, 3.0, 3.5 and 4, but the professional tool requires VS 2005, VS 2008 or VS 2010. Developers can trial the technology for a 14-day period before purchase. .NET Reflector Pro is $195 per user. Download .NET Reflector V6 here.
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