Running ILDASM from inside Visual Studio .NET

Nothing beats ILDASM when it’s time to understand what your VB.NET or C# compiler actually emits. In this case you should prepare a desktop shortcut to ILDASM so that you can run it quickly, and then open a Windows Explorer window on the Bin directory of your project, so that you can easily drag your executable file on ILDASM’s main window. However, there is a better and faster way.

From inside Visual Studio, invoke the Tools-External Tools menu command to bring up a dialog that lets you add a new command to the Tools menu itself. Click on the Add button and type what follows in the dialog fields:

  • Title: ILDASM this program [or whatever you like to use as a caption]
  • Command: C:Program FilesMicrosoft Visual Studio .NETFrameworkSDKBinildasm.exe [or whatever the ILDASM path is]
  • Arguments: $(TargetPath)
  • Use Output window: checked
  • Prompt for arguments: not checked
  • Now you’re ready to use ILDASM to explore the metadata and the IL code of the application you’re working on. Of course, you need to compile it at least once before you can run ILDASM on its executable.

    A very important warning: Remember to close ILDASM before recompiling the application. If you omit to do so, Visual Studio won’t be able to overwrite the executable file. In some cases, you never recover from this error (possibly because of a minor bug in the IDE), and you have to restart Visual Studio to complete a compilation successfully.

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