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How does assembly versioning work?

  Shared By: Joyce Edwards    Date: Feb 26    Category: .Net Framework    Views: 3626

Answer:

An assembly has a version number consisting of four parts, e.g. 1.0.350.1. These are typically interpreted as Major.Minor.Build.Revision, but this is just a convention.

The CLR applies no version constraints on weakly named assemblies, so the assembly version has no real significance.

For strongly named assemblies, the version of a referenced assembly is stored in the referring assembly, and by default only this exact version will be loaded at run-time. If the exact version is not available, the referring assembly will fail to load. It is possible to override this behaviour in the config file for the referring assembly - references to a single version or a range of versions of the referenced assembly can be redirected to a specific version. For example, versions 1.0.0.0 to 2.0.0.0 can be redirected to version 3.0.125.3. However note that there is no way to specify a range of versions to be redirected to. Publisher policy files offer an alternative mechanism for redirecting to a different version for assemblies deployed to the GAC - a publisher policy file allows the publisher of the assembly to redirect all applications to a new version of an assembly in one operation, rather than having to modify all of the application configuration files.

The restrictions on version policy for strongly named assemblies can cause problems when providing patches or 'hot fixes' for individual assemblies within an application. To avoid having to deploy config file changes or publisher policy files along with the hot fix, it makes sense to reuse the same assembly version for the hot fix. If desired, the assemblies can be distinguised by altering the assembly file version, which is not used at all by the CLR for applying version policy. For more discussion, see Suzanne Cook's When to Change File/Assembly Versions blog entry.

Note that the versioning of strongly named assemblies applies whether the assemblies are deployed privately or to the GAC.

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