Martin Björkström - Announcing dotnet depends

Announcing dotnet depends

Published on Monday, 6 August 2018


dotnet depends v0.1.0 has now been released. This is a tool for exploring dependencies in .NET projects, with an GUI heavily inspired from bitbake's depexp. Hopefully this tool will be a valuable addition to your toolbox when e.g. debugging transitive dependencies. Install it by running: dotnet tool install --global dotnet-depends, and report any issues and/or feature requests on Github.


Ever since Dave Glick announced Buildalyzer, I knew I wanted to build something with it. I had been thinking about a dependency explorer, since you know, debugging transitive dependencies in .NET really sucks. It always takes a dozen of clicks on and a couple of minutes scrolling up-and-down in project.assets.json to figure out which dependency brought in package A, which in turn was incompatible with package B.

At first, when I started playing with Buildalyzer, I was determined that the tool should output a dependency graph in the DOT language, which in turn could be converted to SVG or PNG using graphviz. After a few attempts I came to the conclusion that the graphs easily became too messy and was hard to interpret. I was close to accept my defeat, when I remembered a great tool called depexp which I had used with Yocto back in the days, when I was creating/tweaking embedded Linux distros (narrator: he still does, occasionally...).

Next problem then... Since I wanted this to be a .NET Core global tool, how do I introduce a GUI like depexp in a .NET Core console application? I then remembered the console UI toolkit for .NET Miguel de Icaza announced. So, I took a dependency on Terminal.Gui / Gui.cs, and tweeted this:

Feedback was awesome, so I submitted a couple of PR's to Gui.cs and awaited Buildalyzer v1.0.0 before releasing v0.1.0 of dotnet depends.

Curious to see how it works? Install it by running: dotnet tool install --global dotnet-depends, and then run dotnet depends /path/to/myproject.csproj. If your project targets multiple frameworks, you can specify the target by appending the -f|--framework <FRAMEWORK> option. Please remember to report any issues and/or feature requests on Github. Happy hacking!