Load a dll into an AppDomain for reflection or execution and Unload it

.Net will allow you to easily load any dll you want to into the current AppDomain by simply calling Assembly.LoadFrom() with the path of the dll in question. However, this is only available for the current AppDomain, and as a result, the dll remains loaded for the duration of the AppDomain's lifetime.

This may be ok, but if you want to simply load a dll, inspect it, and run some one-time operations on it, that seems a bit wasteful. In web development, it means you must shut down your web server to recompile the dll you're loading.

So, the solution would seem to be to start up a new appDomain, load the dll in question, do your work, and then unload the appDomain.

Gentlemen, start your compilers...

namespace Utilities {
  public class SomeClass{
    public static void RegisterApplication(
      string appPath) {
      if (File.Exists(appPath)) {
        var domainSetup = new AppDomainSetup() {
        ApplicationBase = AppDomain.CurrentDomain
        PrivateBinPath = AppDomain.CurrentDomain
          .BaseDirectory + @"\bin"
      var appDomain = AppDomain.CreateDomain(
        "LoaderDomain", null, domainSetup);
      try {
        var loader = (Loader)appDomain
      finally { AppDomain.Unload(appDomain); }

  public class Loader: MarshalByRefObject {
    public void DoSomething(string appPath) {
      var assembly = Assembly.LoadFrom(appPath);
      foreach (var type in assembly.GetTypes()){
      // Do something with the types we find
      // like create some classes with known 
      // interfaces or examine attributes

What's going on?

Well, we create an app domain and seed the PrivateBinPath with a \bin subdirectory so that we can load our current dll in an IIS or cassini environment. Then we fire off the known object and have it call into Assembly.LoadFrom(). Assembly.LoadFrom will resolve dependencies using the standard resolution stuff for our other assemblies. Alternately, we could use a custom resolver event handler to get to our dlls.


Popular posts from this blog

Database Projects, SQL Unit Tests, and TeamCity

KnockoutJS, WebAPI, and TypeScript