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Resgen.exe (Resource File Generator)

The Resource File Generator (Resgen.exe) converts text (.txt or .restext) files and XML-based resource format (.resx) files to common language runtime binary (.resources) files that can be embedded in a runtime binary executable or satellite assembly. (See Creating Resource Files for Desktop Apps.)

Resgen.exe is a general-purpose resource conversion utility that performs the following tasks:

  • Converts .txt or .restext files to .resources or .resx files. (The format of .restext files is identical to the format of .txt files. However, the .restext extension helps you identify text files that contain resource definitions more easily.)

  • Converts .resources files to text or .resx files.

  • Converts .resx files to text or .resources files.

  • Extracts the string resources from an assembly into a .resw file that is suitable for use in a Windows Store app.

  • Creates a strongly typed class that provides access to individual named resources and to the ResourceManager instance.

If Resgen.exe fails for any reason, the return value is –1.

To get help with Resgen,exe, you can use the following command, with no options specified, to display the command syntax and options for Resgen.exe:

resgen

You can also use the /? switch:

resgen /?

If you use Resgen,exe to generate binary .resources files, you can use a language compiler to embed the binary files into executable assemblies, or you can use the Assembly Linker (Al.exe) to compile them into satellite assemblies.

This tool is automatically installed with Visual Studio. To run the tool, use the Developer Command Prompt (or the Visual Studio Command Prompt in Windows 7). For more information, see Visual Studio Command Prompt.

At the command prompt, type the following:

resgen  [/define:symbol1[,symbol2,...]] [/useSourcePath] filename.extension  | /compile filename.extension... [outputFilename.extension] 
[/r:assembly] 
[/str:lang[,namespace[,class[,file]]] [/publicclass]] 
resgen filename.extension [outputDirectory]

Parameter or switch

Description

/define: symbol1[, symbol2,...]

Starting with the .NET Framework 4.5, supports conditional compilation in text-based (.txt or .restext) resource files. If symbol corresponds to a symbol included in the input text file within a #ifdef construct, the associated string resource is included in the .resources file. If the input text file includes an #if ! statement with a symbol that is not defined by the /define switch, the associated string resource is included in the resources file.

/define is ignored if it is used with non-text files. Symbols are case-sensitive.

For more information about this option, see Conditionally Compiling Resources later in this topic.

useSourcePath

Specifies that the input file's current directory is to be used to resolve relative file paths.

/compile

Enables you to specify multiple .resx or text files to convert to multiple .resources files in a single bulk operation. If you do not specify this option, you can specify only one input file argument. Output files are named filename.resources.

This option cannot be used with the /str: option.

For more information about this option, see Compiling or Converting Multiple Files later in this topic.

/r: assembly

References metadata from the specified assembly. It is used when converting .resx files and allows Resgen.exe to serialize or deserialize object resources. It is similar to the /reference: or /r: options for the C# and Visual Basic compilers.

filename.extension

Specifies the name of the input file to convert. If you're using the first, lengthier command-line syntax presented before this table, extension must be one of the following:

.txt or .restext

A text file to convert to a .resources or a .resx file. Text files can contain only string resources. For information about the file format, see the "Resources in Text Files" section of Creating Resource Files for Desktop Apps.

.resx

An XML-based resource file to convert to a .resources or a text (.txt or .restext) file.

.resources

A binary resource file to convert to a .resx or a text (.txt or .restext) file.

If you're using the second, shorter command-line syntax presented before this table, extension must be the following:

.exe or .dll

A .NET Framework assembly (executable or library) whose string resources are to be extracted to a .resw file for use in developing Windows Store apps.

outputFilename.extension

Specifies the name and type of the resource file to create.

This argument is optional when converting from a .txt, .restext, or .resx file to a .resources file. If you do not specify outputFilename, Resgen.exe appends a .resources extension to the input filename and writes the file to the directory that contains filename,extension.

The outputFilename.extension argument is mandatory when converting from a .resources file. Specify a file name with the .resx extension when converting a .resources file to an XML-based resource file. Specify a file name with the .txt or .restext extension when converting a .resources file to a text file. You should convert a .resources file to a .txt file only when the .resources file contains only string values.

outputDirectory

For Windows Store apps, specifies the directory in which a .resw file that contains the string resources in filename.extension will be written. outputDirectory must already exist.

/str: language[,namespace[,classname[,filename]]]

Creates a strongly typed resource class file in the programming language specified in the language option. language can consist of one of the following literals:

  • For C#: c#, cs, or csharp.

  • For Visual Basic: vb or visualbasic.

  • For VBScript: vbs or vbscript.

  • For C++: c++, mc, or cpp.

  • For JavaScript: js, jscript, or javascript.

The namespace option specifies the project's default namespace, the classname option specifies the name of the generated class, and the filename option specifies the name of the class file.

The /str: option allows only one input file, so it cannot be used with the /compile option.

If namespace is specified but classname is not, the class name is derived from the output file name (for example, underscores are substituted for periods). The strongly typed resources might not work correctly as a result. To avoid this, specify both class name and output file name.

For more information about this option, see Generating a Strongly Typed Resource Class later in this topic.

/publicClass

Creates a strongly typed resource class as a public class. By default, the resource class is internal in C# and Friend in Visual Basic.

This option is ignored if the /str: option is not used.

In order for Resgen.exe to successfully convert resources, text and .resx files must follow the correct format.

Text (.txt or .restext) files may contain only string resources. String resources are useful if you are writing an application that must have strings translated into several languages. For example, you can easily regionalize menu strings by using the appropriate string resource. Resgen.exe reads text files that contain name/value pairs, where the name is a string that describes the resource and the value is the resource string itself.

Note Note

For information about the format of .txt and .restext files, see the "Resources in Text Files" section of Creating Resource Files for Desktop Apps.

A text file that contains resources must be saved with UTF-8 or Unicode (UTF-16) encoding unless it contains only characters in the Basic Latin range (to U+007F). Resgen.exe removes extended ANSI characters when it processes a text file that is saved using ANSI encoding.

Resgen.exe checks the text file for duplicate resource names. If the text file contains duplicate resource names, Resgen.exe will emit a warning and ignore the second value.

The .resx resource file format consists of XML entries. You can specify string resources within these XML entries, as you would in text files. A primary advantage of .resx files over text files is that you can also specify or embed objects. When you view a .resx file, you can see the binary form of an embedded object (for example, a picture) when this binary information is a part of the resource manifest. As with text files, you can open a .resx file with a text editor (such as Notepad or Microsoft Word) and write, parse, and manipulate its contents. Note that this requires a good knowledge of XML tags and the .resx file structure. For more details on the .resx file format, see the "Resources in .resx Files" section of Creating Resource Files for Desktop Apps.

In order to create a .resources file that contains embedded nonstring objects, you must either use Resgen.exe to convert a .resx file containing objects or add the object resources to your file directly from code by calling the methods provided by the ResourceWriter class.

If your .resx or .resources file contains objects and you use Resgen.exe to convert it to a text file, all the string resources will be converted correctly, but the data types of the nonstring objects will also be written to the file as strings. You will lose the embedded objects in the conversion, and Resgen.exe will report that an error occurred in retrieving the resources.

When you convert between different resource file types, Resgen.exe may not be able to perform the conversion or may lose information about specific resources, depending on the source and target file types. The following table specifies the types of conversions that are successful when converting from one resource file type to another.

Convert from

To text file

To .resx file

To .resw file

To .resources file

Text (.txt or .restext) file

--

No issues

Not supported

No issues

.resx file

Conversion fails if file contains non-string resources (including file links)

--

Not supported

No issues

.resources file

Conversion fails if file contains non-string resources (including file links)

No issues

Not supported

--

.exe or .dll assembly

Not supported

Not supported

Only string resources (including path names) are recognized as resources

Not supported

You can use Resgen.exe in diverse ways: to compile a text-based or XML-based resource file into a binary file, to convert between resource file formats, and to generate a class that wraps ResourceManager functionality and provides access to resources. This section provides detailed information about each task:

The most common use of Resgen.exe is to compile a text-based resource file (a .txt or .restext file) or an XML-based resource file (a .resx file) into a binary .resources file. The output file then can be embedded in a main assembly by a language compiler or in a satellite assembly by Assembly Linker (AL.exe).

The syntax to compile a resource file is:

resgen inputFilename [outputFilename] 

where the parameters are:

inputFilename

The file name, including the extension, of the resource file to compile. Resgen.exe only compiles files with extensions of .txt, .restext, or .resx.

outputFilename

The name of the output file. If you omit outputFilename, Resgen.exe creates a .resources file with the root file name of inputFilename in the same directory as inputFilename. If outputFilename includes a directory path, the directory must exist.

You provide a fully qualified namespace for the .resources file by specifying it in the file name and separating it from the root file name by a period. For example, if outputFilename is MyCompany.Libraries.Strings.resources, the namespace is MyCompany.Libraries.

The following command reads the name/value pairs in Resources.txt and writes a binary .resources file named Resources.resources. Because the output file name is not specified explicitly, it receives the same name as the input file by default.

resgen Resources.txt 

The following command reads the name/value pairs in Resources.restext and writes a binary resources file named StringResources.resources.

resgen Resources.restext StringResources.resources

The following command reads an XML-based input file named Resources.resx and writes a binary .resources file named Resources.resources.

resgen Resources.resx Resources.resources

In addition to compiling text-based or XML-based resource files into binary .resources files, Resgen.exe can convert any supported file type to any other supported file type. This means that it can perform the following conversions:

  • .txt and .restext files to .resx files.

  • .resx files to .txt and .restext files.

  • .resources files to .txt and .restext files.

  • .resources files to .resx files.

The syntax is the same as that shown in the previous section.

In addition, you can use Resgen.exe to convert embedded resources in a .NET Framework assembly to a .resw file tor Windows Store apps.

The following command reads a binary resources file Resources.resources and writes an XML-based output file named Resources.resx.

resgen Resources.resources Resources.resx

The following command reads a text-based resources file named StringResources.txt and writes an XML-based resources file named LibraryResources.resx. In addition to containing string resources, the .resx file could also be used to store non-string resources.

resgen StringResources.txt LibraryResources.resx

The following two commands read an XML-based resources file named Resources.resx and write text files named Resources.txt and Resources.restext. Note that if the .resx file contains any embedded objects, they will not be accurately converted into the text files.

resgen Resources.resx Resources.txt
resgen Resources.resx Resources.restext

You can use the /compile switch to convert a list of resource files from one format to another in a single operation. The syntax is:

resgen /compile filename.extension [filename.extension...]

The following command compiles three files, StringResources.txt, TableResources.resw, and ImageResources.resw, into separate .resources files named StringResources.resources, TableResources.resources, and ImageResources.resources.

resgen /compile StringResources.txt TableResources.resx ImageResources.resx

If you're developing a Windows Store app, you may want to use resources from an existing desktop app. However, the two kinds of applications support different file formats. In desktop apps, resources in text (.txt or .restext) or .resx files are compiled into binary .resources files. In Windows Store apps, .resw files are compiled into binary package resource index (PRI) files. You can use Resgen.exe to bridge this gap by extracting resources from an executable or a satellite assembly and writing them to one or more .resw files that can be used when developing a Windows Store app.

Important note Important

Visual Studio automatically handles all conversions necessary for incorporating the resources in a portable library into a Windows Store app. Using Resgen.exe directly to convert the resources in an assembly to .resw file format is of interest only to developers who want to develop a Windows Store app outside of Visual Studio.

The syntax to generate .resw files from an assembly is:

resgen filename.extension  [outputDirectory]

where the parameters are:

filename.extension

The name of a .NET Framework assembly (an executable or .DLL). If the file contains no resources, Resgen.exe does not create any files.

outputDirectory

The existing directory to which to write the .resw files. If outputDirectory is omitted, .resw files are written to the current directory. Resgen.exe creates one .resw file for each .resources file in the assembly. The root file name of the .resw file is the same as the root name of the .resources file.

The following command creates a .resw file in the Win8Resources directory for each .resources file embedded in MyApp.exe:

resgen MyApp.exe Win8Resources

Starting with the .NET Framework 4.5, Resgen.exe supports conditional compilation of string resources in text (.txt and .restext) files. This enables you to use a single text-based resource file in multiple build configurations.

In a .txt or .restext file, you use the #ifdef#endif construct to include a resource in the binary .resources file if a symbol is defined, and you use the #if !... #endif construct to include a resource if a symbol is not defined. At compile time, you then define symbols by using the /define: option followed by a comma-delimited list of symbols. The comparison is cased-sensitive; the case of symbols defined by /define must match the case of symbols in the text files to be compiled.

For example, the following file named UIResources.rext includes a string resource named AppTitle that can take one of three values, depending on whether symbols named PRODUCTION, CONSULT, or RETAIL are defined.

#ifdef PRODUCTION
AppTitle=My Software Company Project Manager 
#endif
#ifdef CONSULT
AppTitle=My Consulting Company Project Manager
#endif
#ifdef RETAIL
AppTitle=My Retail Store Project Manager
#endif
FileMenuName=File

The file can then be compiled into a binary .resources file with the following command:

resgen /define:CONSULT UIResources.restext

This produces a .resources file that contains two string resources. The value of the AppTitle resource is "My Consulting Company Project Manager".

Resgen.exe supports strongly typed resources, which encapsulates access to resources by creating classes that contain a set of static read-only properties. This provides an alternative to calling the methods of the ResourceManager class directly to retrieve resources. You can enable strongly typed resource support by using the /str option in Resgen.exe, which wraps the functionality of the StronglyTypedResourceBuilder class. When you specify the /str option, the output of Resgen.exe is a class that contains strongly typed properties that match the resources that are referenced in the input parameter. This class provides strongly typed read-only access to the resources that are available in the file processed.

The syntax to create a strongly typed resource is:

resgen inputFilename [outputFilename] /str:language[,namespace,[classname[,filename]]] [/publicClass]

The parameters and switches are:

inputFilename

The file name, including the extension, of the resource file for which to generate a strongly typed resource class. The file can be a text-based, XML-based, or binary .resources file; it can have an extension of .txt, .restext, .resw, or .resources.

outputFilename

The name of the output file. If outputFilename includes a directory path, the directory must exist. If you omit outputFilename, Resgen.exe creates a .resources file with the root file name of inputFilename in the same directory as inputFilename.

outputFilename can be a text-based, XML-based, or binary .resources file. If the file extension of outputFilename is different from the file extension of inputFilename, Resgen.exe performs the file conversion.

If inputFilename is a .resources file, Resgen.exe copies the .resources file if outputFilename is also a .resources file. If outputFilename is omitted, Resgen.exe overwrites inputFilename with an identical .resources file.

language

The language in which to generate source code for the strongly-typed resource class. Possible values are cs, C#, and csharp for C# code, vb and visualbasic for Visual Basic code, vbs and vbscript for VBScript code, and c++, mc, and cpp for C++ code.

namespace

The namespace that contains the strongly typed resource class. The .resources file and the resource class should have the same namespace. For information about specifying the namespace in the outputFilename, see Compiling Resources into a Binary File. If namespace is omitted, the resource class is not contained in a namespace.

classname

The name of the strongly typed resource class. This should correspond to the root name of the .resources file. For example, if Resgen.exe generates a .resources file named MyCompany.Libraries.Strings.resources, the name of the strongly typed resource class is Strings. If classname is omitted, the generated class is derived from the root name of outputFilename. If outputFilename is omitted, the generated class is derived from the root name of inputFilename.

classname cannot contain invalid characters such as embedded spaces. If classname contains embedded spaces, or if classname is generated by default from inputFilename, and inputFilename contains embedded spaces, Resgen.exe replaces all invalid characters with an underscore (_).

filename

The name of the class file.

/publicclass

Makes the strongly typed resource class public rather than internal (in C#) or Friend (in Visual Basic). This allows the resources to be accessed from outside the assembly in which they are embedded.

Important noteImportant

When you create a strongly typed resource class, the name of your .resources file must match the namespace and class name of the generated code. However, Resgen.exe allows you to specify options that produce a .resources file that has an incompatible name. To work around this behavior, rename the output file after it has been generated.

The strongly typed resource class has the following members:

  • A parameterless constructor, which can be used to instantiate the strongly typed resource class..

  • A static (C#) or Shared (Visual Basic) and read-only ResourceManager property, which returns the ResourceManager instance that manages the strongly typed resource.

  • A static Culture property, which allows you to set the culture used for resource retrieval. By default, its value is null, which means that that the current UI culture is used.

  • One static (C#) or Shared (Visual Basic) and read-only property for each resource in the .resources file. The name of the property is the name of the resource.-

For example, the following command compiles a resource file named StringResources.txt into StringResources.resources and generates a class named StringResources in a Visual Basic source code file named StringResources.vb that can be used to access the Resource Manager.

resgen StringResources.txt /str:vb,,StringResources 
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