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Programming Visual Basic .NET, Second Edition by Jesse Liberty

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Multi-Module Assemblies

A single-module assembly has a single file that can be an EXE or DLL file. This single module contains all the types and implementations for the application. The assembly manifest is embedded within this module.

A multi-module assembly consists of multiple files (zero or one EXE and zero or more DLL files, though you must have at least one EXE or DLL). The assembly manifest in this case can reside in a standalone file, or it can be embedded in one of the modules. When the assembly is referenced, the runtime loads the file containing the manifest and then loads the required modules as needed.

Benefitting from Multi-Module Assemblies

Multi-module assemblies have advantages for real-world programs, especially if they are developed by multiple developers or are very large.

Imagine that 25 developers are working on a single project. If they were to create a single-module assembly to build and test the application, all 25 programmers would have to check in their latest code simultaneously, and the entire mammoth application would be built. That creates a logistical nightmare.

If they each build their own modules, however, the program can be built with the latest available module from each programmer. This relieves the logistics problems; each module can be checked in when it is ready.

Perhaps more importantly, multiple modules make it easier to deploy and to maintain large programs. Imagine that each of the 25 developers builds a separate module, each in its own ...

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