Replacing .NET Reflector
Thursday, April 28, 2011
.NET Reflector is a tool for browsing .NET classes. If you've never seen this, you are really missing out. In effect, it's like having searchable source code for the .NET libraries, including those written by third parties.
This is a must-have tool for .NET developers. However, while this software started as a completely free product, it has since been purchased by Red Gate, and that's when the product started losing some of its luster.
Initially, Red Gate promised to keep the product free. However, they implemented a registration process that required you to give them your email and other information in order to download the product. Moreover, the product seemed to time out after a while, requiring you to download the latest version, ensuring that Red Gate had your latest information. And now the product has become a paid-for product. While costs start at a reasonable $35.00, some folks are missing the cool resource we once had.
Fortunately, there are some cool replacements for .NET Reflector.
One that looks very promising is ILSpy, which is an open-source .NET assembly browser and decompiler. This product includes many of the features developers learned to love in .NET Reflector, but in an open-source format. This is definitely a worthwhile resource for .NET developers. You can also check out this blog article on ILSpy.
Also, Telerik has just released a beta version of their new JustDecompile, designed to enable easy .NET assembly browsing and decompiling. While Telerik is not know for free software, this product is featured as being free. According to Telerik, "Unlike Open Source alternatives, Telerik JustDecompile benefits from a dedicated development team, which is focused on continuously improving the product in line with your feedback. Telerik is recognized as one of the leading providers of .NET development tools and JustDecompile will benefit from our years of experience in the field."
In addition, there is dotPeek. dotPeek is a new free .NET decompiler with search features from JetBrains. dotPeek has gone public for the first time on Wednesday, May 11, as JetBrains opened an Early Access Program (EAP) that implied regular publishing of pre-release builds.
And there are even more options that include products such as Dotnet IL Editor and Monoflector.
So for developers mourning the loss of the free .NET Reflector, it looks like there is good news. And any .NET developer wanting to better understand the inner workings of the .NET libraries should check out at least one of these products.