Do we need an open source alternative to Reflector?

I just started .net Reflector and got the update prompt:

Nothing special here, except that both options are bad. Clicking Yes gives me this window:

And clicking No prevents Reflector from starting. So basically I can't use Reflector unless I download a new version manually or disconnect my PC from the internet or somehow else suppress the update check. This got me thinking about the Status of .net Reflector.

It's an excellent tool, to the point it's almost essential for many developers. Lutz Roeder did a fantastic job with it, and Red Gate is continuing to improve it. But the tool is not free, and the message above just had me realize again that it can be shut down any time. Of course, Red Gate has promised to keep a free version and I have no reason to think they are not truthful, but at the same time I've seen many companies shutting down free products for whatever reason. This would be absolutely their right, but it got me thinking: Is .net Reflector "too big to fail"?

Should there be an Open Source Alternative? Or am I too heavily biased (being a SharePoint developer) and overestimate the importance of it?

Comments (7)

KurtApril 8th, 2010 at 17:14

When I said "No" to the update prompt, Reflector attempted to uninstall itself! That is NOT OK behavior for any software. It borders on malicious. I think an open-source alternative is badly needed.

KevApril 19th, 2010 at 14:47

I think it is about time we had an opensource .NET reflector.

I find it downright rude that when you're right in the middle of some complex problem, you launch Reflector and the blasted thing won't work unless you update. So then I have to context switch to do this and my concentration is disrupted.

I also object to having to supply my contact details yet again when I need an update. This is bad behaviour and also gets in the way of updating quickly when time is of the essence.

I know Reflector is free, but there needs to be a better system to warn when it needs an update e.g. a counter - "You can run this two more times", that kinda thing.

Also you're right, red-gate could yank the free Reflector or they could start moving features into the paid for version whilst letting the free version go stale.

Red-gate need to shit or get off the pan, Reflector is either unencumbered free or they need to build a proper installer with a proper licensing mechanism and properly state their intentions.

It's great that we do have this free tool (for now) but if the vendor is going to start pissing people around then it's time to start looking at alternatives.

JohnMay 14th, 2010 at 12:13

I would totally support this.

Reflector was a simple useful tool. It isnt that anymore.

DavidFebruary 2nd, 2011 at 19:52

They've discontinued the free version, which will stop functioning May 30th.

ILSPY will ROCKSMarch 5th, 2011 at 07:15

use ILSPY freeware taht started after Red Gate said t will not provide free Reflector.
Pretty impersive what they did with ILSPY in that very short period of time.
Source is open and anyone can contribute and change it.
I abandon Reflector and will use ILSPY and maybe try to help improve the code.

asdsadMarch 23rd, 2011 at 14:47

ILSpy is the open source variant. Check

They recently made a release on the 24th of Feb that is pretty good.

NicoleMay 3rd, 2011 at 16:19

Open Source is good, but for me nothing beats a tool that is free and yet supported and consistently developed by a commercial vendor. Telerik recently released JustDecompile, which is a free alternative to Reflector. It is in Beta version, but so far I have been impressed.