Snooping in .NET Libraries

How do I view the source code for some .NET libraries that I have but I don’t have the source code?

I’ve recently started a new job with a software development company that has a substantial amount of source code and a huge class library. I’m trying to get my arms around it and I’ve found that loading the hundreds of projects in Visual Studio can be very time consuming.

So, I downloaded Lutz Roeder’s .NET Reflector. It is a wonderful tool for the browsing into .NET libraries and you don’t need the source code to do it.

Here’s a screen shot:image

This program will let you click around in the disassembled code and on the various types. You can learn a class library quickly by exploring like this. You get a good peek "under the hood" so you can have a good feeling for how things are put together.

Keep in mind though that the disassembled code may have some name mangling. That’s OK. If you have the real source code, you can open the project and then take a look. I think using this tool is much quicker than using VisualStudio to find things sometimes.

There’s no substitute for knowing exactly what a class library does because you’ve seen the code first hand. Download this utility and give it a whirl.

Let me know what you think.