Resource Basics in VS .NET

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Resource Basics
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Imagine setting the background image of a form in your application by loading a bitmap from a file: public Form1() { // Load a file from the file system thisBackgroundImage = new Bitmap(@"C:\WINDOWS\Web\Wallpaper\Azuljpg"); } The problem with this code is that not all installations of Windows will have Azuljpg, and even those that do have it may not have it in the same place Even if you shipped this picture with your application, a space-conscious user may decide to remove it, causing your application to fault The only safe way to make sure that the picture, or any file, stays with code is to embed it and load it as a resource , a named piece of data embedded in the assembly itself
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Manifest Resources
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Resources are added to an assembly at compile time To embed a file into an assembly using VSNET requires that you add the file to your VSNET project[2] To add a file to a project, right-click on your project in Solution Explorer, choose Add Existing Item, and choose the file you'd like to add If it's not already there, it will be copied into your project's directory, but it is not yet embedded as a resource To embed the file as a resource, right-click on the file and choose Properties, changing Build Action from Content (the default) to Embedded Resource, as shown in Figure 101
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The NET Framework SDK command line compilers, such as cscexe and vbcexe, provide options for bundling files into assemblies as resources (for cscexe and vbcexe, the switch is /resource) In addition, the /embedresource switch for alexe will create a new assembly from an existing assembly and a set of files to embed as resources
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Figure 101 Setting a File's Build Action to Embedded Resource
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When it's marked as an Embedded Resource, a file gets embedded in the assembly's set of manifest resources The manifest of an assembly is composed of a set of metadata that's part of the assembly Part of that metadata is the name and data associated with each embedded resource
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Naming Manifest Resources
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To check that a file has been embedded properly into your project's output assembly, you can use the NET Framework SDK tool ildasmexe This tool shows all embedded resources in the Manifest view of your assembly, as shown in Figure 102
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Figure 102 ildasm Showing an Embedded Manifest Resource
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As shown in ildasm with the mresource entry, embedding a file as a resource will cause VSNET to name the resource using the project's default namespace, an optional subfolder name, and the resource file name itself in the following format: <defaultNamespace><folderName><fileName> The default namespace portion of the resource name is the default namespace of the project itself, as set via Solution Explorer | <projectName>(right-click) | Properties | Common Properties | General | Default Namespace, as shown in Figure 103
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Figure 103 A VSNET Project's Default Namespace
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If the file happens to be in a subfolder of your project, the folder name of the resource will include a version of that folder name, replacing the back slashes with dots For example, Figure 104 shows the Azuljpg file in the foo\bar project subfolder, and Figure 105 shows the resulting name of the resource in ildasm
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Figure 104 The Azuljpg Resource File in the foo\bar Project Subfolder
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Figure 105 How VSNET Composes the Name of a Resource in a Project Subfolder
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Loading Manifest Resources
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To discover the resources embedded in an assembly, you can enumerate the list of manifest resources, as ildasm is doing, by using the GetManifestResourceNames method of the SystemReflectionAssembly[3] class:
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A type's assembly can be retrieved from the associated Type object's Assembly property Similarly, the Assembly class itself provides several methods for retrieving assemblies of interest: GetAssembly, GetCallingAssembly, GetEntryAssembly, and GetExecutingAssembly
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using SystemReflection; // Get this type's assembly Assembly assem = thisGetType()Assembly; // Enumerate the assembly's manifest resources foreach( string resourceName in assemGetManifestResourceNames() ) { MessageBoxShow(resourceName); } When you know the name of a manifest resource, either by enumerating it or by hard-coding the one you want, you can load it as a raw stream of bytes via the Assembly class's GetManifestResourceStream method: using SystemIO; namespace ResourcesApp { public Form1() { // Get this type's assembly Assembly assem = thisGetType()Assembly; // Get the stream that holds the resource // from the "ResourcesAppAzuljpg" resource
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// NOTE1: Make sure not to close this stream, // or the Bitmap object will lose access to it // NOTE2: Also be very careful to match the case // on the resource name itself Stream stream = assemGetManifestResourceStream("ResourcesAppAzuljpg"); // Load the bitmap from the stream thisBackgroundImage = new Bitmap(stream); } } Notice that the resource name passed to GetManifestResourceStream is the full, casesensitive name of the resource, including the namespace and the file name If the resource is embedded from a subfolder of the project, remember to include the "dottified" version of the folder name as well: Stream stream = assemGetManifestResourceStream("ResourcesAppfoobarAzuljpg");
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