What is Manifest in .NET?

Manifest is nothing but a simple text file used to store metadata information of different .NET assemblies. Manifest file can be saved as a stand alone file of type PE. It can also be stored as an exe or as a dll file containing intermediate language code.

Following metadata information of assembly are stored in manifest:

" Assembly Name - Name of the assembly.
" Assembly Version - Includes major version number, minor version number, revision and also the build number.
" Culture - This attribute contains information about the language or culture which is supported by this assembly. If this attribute has a value then the assembly becomes satellite assembly.
" Public Key Token - This attribute refers to the strong name associated with the assembly.
" File List - Names of all files belonging to the assembly will be listed.
" Type Reference - Type reference of all files contained in the assembly are mentioned. It includes implementation along with the declaration.
" Referenced Assembly - If your assembly is referencing any other assemblies then information about those referenced assemblies including the referenced assembly name, metadata information about the referenced assembly and the strong name if any will be available.

Sample MSIL Code representing the manifest content of a particular assembly is shown below:
.assembly extern System {
.publickeytoken = (B8 6A 4C 10 25 39 65 42)
.ver 1:0:6000:0

Note that the versioning information will be available only for public assemblies and not for private assemblies. This is because private assemblies will be stored in individual folders and not in global assembly cache.

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