As we saw in the previous chapter, a C# program compiles into an assembly that includes metadata, compiled code, and resources. Inspecting the metadata and compiled code at runtime is called reflection.
The compiled code in an assembly contains almost all of the content of the original source code. Some information is lost, such as local variable names, comments, and preprocessor statements. However, reflection can access pretty much everything else, even making it possible to write a decompiler.
Many of the services available in .NET and exposed via C# (such as
dynamic binding, serialization, data binding, and Remoting) depend on the
presence of metadata. Your own programs can also take advantage of this
metadata, and even extend it with new information using custom attributes.
System.Reflection namespace houses
the reflection API. It is also possible at runtime to dynamically create
new metadata and executable instructions in IL (Intermediate Language) via
the classes in the
The examples in this chapter assume that you import the
System.Reflection, as well as
When we use the term “dynamically” in this chapter, we mean using
reflection to perform some task whose type safety is enforced only at
runtime. This is similar in principle to dynamic
binding via C#’s
keyword, although the mechanism and functionality is different.
To compare the two, dynamic binding ...