VS.NET Tools Intermediate Language Disassembler (ILDAM)

I am writing my first paper on C# technologies. So I started to make search on net what topic papers are available on various sites of C#. I found the programmers and developers have presented almost all topics but nothing was available for IL disassember, a very useful tool for .NET programmers. User will find it as their best friend once started using it.

You can download .NET SDK beta 1 from MSDN site. Once you will install .NET SDK in your system. You can get IL disassemble tool as named ILDasm.exe in directory C:\Program Files\Microsoft.NET\FrameworkSDK\bin (Windows OS).

This question raise in mind of programmer "Why should I use ILDASM tool?"

Answer of this question I found in the tutorial supplied with .NET SDK as "The ILDSAM tool parses any .NET Framework EXE/DLL module and shows the information in a human-readable format. It allows user to see the pseudo assembly language for .NET". IL disassmeber tool shows not only namespace but also types including their interfaces.

As its name suggests, it is Intermediate language, so it has its own specification. User can also write program using this intermediate language, its very similar to assembly language of olden days.

I will use one simple example and use ILDASM.exe

C# Hello World Program

using System;
class HelloWorld
static void Main()
Console.WriteLine("Hello, world!");

Complier it on command line by using  csc HelloWorld.cs

will be generated

Again use command  ildasm Helloworld.exe

You will get a screen like this.

Here you can see all of Symbols. The table below explains what each graphic symbol means:

Some of them you can find in HelloWorld's members.

Symbol Meaning
More info
Value type
Static Method
Static Field

The tree in this window shows that manifest information contained inside HelloWorld.exe. By double-clicking on any of the types in the tree, you can see more information about the type.

Double-clicking the ".class public auto ansi" entry shows the following information:

User can easily see that the HelloWorld type is derived from the System. Object type.

The first method, .ctor, is a constructor. This particular type has just one constructor but other types may have several constructors each with a different signature. If you double-click on the constructor method, a new window appears showing the IL (intermediate language) contained within the method:

It is easy to understand it. Once you make it practice to read it, It will appear not tough task.

The Common Language Runtime is stack based. So, in order to perform any operation, the operands are first pushed onto a virtual stack and then the operator executes. The operator grabs the operands off the stack, performs the desired operation and places the result back on the stack. At any one time, this method will have no more than 8 operands pushed onto the virtual stack. We can tell this by looking at the ".maxstack" attribute ( Maximum Stack size ) that appears just before the IL code.

In the above code maxstack is shown as 8.

Lets examine the IL code :

IL_0000: ldarg.0 : Load Object this pointer in stack
IL_0001: call instance
return the value loaded in

If user make a double click on main: void()

It will appear like this

If we will examine IL Code:

IL_0000: ldstr "Hello, world!"
IL_0005: call
void [mscorlib]System.Console::WriteLine(class System.String)IL_000a: ret

LDSTR: Load String .

First line indicate load String in stack.

Second Line indicate call method System.Console:: WriteLine as fetch the value from stack put in this method and again put the result in stack.

Third line shows fetch the final value from stack and return it.

There are some advance option are also available. The extra options are enabled by running ILDASM with the /ADV ("ADVanced") command-line switch.   When /ADV is specified, ILDASM enables additional command-line switches

For the user convenience I will summarize some basic instructions here below.

LDC This instruction pushes a hard coded number on the stack
LDARG and LDARGA Load argument and load argument address, respectively
LDLOC and LDLOCA Load local variable and load local variable address, respectively
LDFLD and LDSFLD Load Object Field and Load Static Field of a Class, respectively
LDELEM Load an element of an array
LDLEN Load the length of an array
STARG Store a value in an argument slot
STELEM Store an element of an array
STFLD Store into a field of an object
CEQ Compare equal
CGT Compare greater than
CLT Compare less than
BR Unconditional branch
BRFALSE and BRTRUE Branch on false and branch on true, respectively
CONV Data conversion
NEWARR Create a zero-based, one-dimensional array
NEWOBJ Create a new object
BOX Convert value type to object reference
UNBOX Convert boxed value type to its raw form
CALL and CALLVIRT Call a method and call a method associated at runtime with an object, respectively

If you have some question Please write me at [email protected]

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