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Joel on Software

where's the code?


This is a basic question, anyone have a quick answer?

I've been asked to take a look at a previously developed (desktop) software package written in  The developer's skipped town; the client wants to know roughly how much work it'll be to update the software.  I've tons of experience in the old VB (more recently I've been in the Java world) but none in VB.NET.

Here's my question.  I'm trying to figure out if we have all the source code.  (Clearly an important factor).  The source directory has lots of "resx" files, and in the "obj" directory, lots of "resources" files.  As I understand it, the resx files contain the form info, and the .vb files would contain the actual code.  However, there are not *.vb files, so I think we must be missing source code.  Is this correct, or would the code be buried somewhere else?


Monday, September 29, 2003

if you're missing 1-2 source files, you can dissassemble the binaries to get them back. or something vaguely like them, still should be easier than rewriting everything.

one easy tool to use is Lutz Roeder's Reflector for .NET (

Monday, September 29, 2003

Yes, you're missing the source files - all the important stuff (the form definiation as well as the code) is in the *.VB files.

Duncan Smart
Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Wow, the reflector is really useful.  Appreciate the advice.  I see that I can now view the source for the individual methods.

Are there any automatic tools to put the code back in a compilable format?  Seems like a lot of work to do this by hand.


Thursday, October 02, 2003

i think you can get reflector to output a whole class at a time. otherwise you could write your own--I think it just calls system.reflection and friends to decompile the code.

there are probably other tools which do this.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

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