A typical effect of setting CopyLocal = true | Patrick Smacchia


If you read me in the past, you certainly know that I have a problem about the Visual Studio default option that set CopyLocal = true in project references assemblies. I mean this option:


I’ve already explained the problem in my blog, and also in White-Books available on the NDepend website. (see white-book Partitioning code base through .NET assemblies and Visual Studio projects page 4 CopyLocal = true is evil)


For example, in 2009 by fixing the problem on the NUnit code base, I’ve been able in less than an hour, to shrink the compilation time from 32 seconds to 12 seconds.

So what is the consequence of Nancy framework relying on CopyLocal = true: A huge number of cloned version on Nancy.DLL for each VS project referencing it. After a recompilation, I can count 56 occurences of Nancy.dll that weights 842 KB each, it means more than 46MB wasted. Apparently it doesn’t affect so much the VS compilation duration, I guess the VS team made VS 2012 more intelligent in the sense that if it has already parsed a reference assembly for a project, it doesn’t parse it for others, which is a good thing.


I tried to post something on the Nancy user group, without success, hence this post. To fix this issue, it is as simple as:

  • making sure that each project compile in a ..\bin\Debug and ..\bin\Release folder
  • from VS projects, reference the DLLs in the ..\bin\Debug directory, and set CopyLocal = false for each reference

Additional, I found ..\bin to be a good folder to host test assemblies. This way they can reference the application assemblies that live in ..\bin\Debug and the indirection can be handled with a App.config file like:

One very good point is that Nancy.dll is a single DLL that only depends on .NET Fx assemblies so it is optimally packaged.


On the other hand, this large DLL made of more than 7.000 lines of code and almost 300 classes, doesn’t abide by any kind of layered architecture. The consequence is that each namespace depends on all other namespaces.


As a consequences classes are not layered at all, there is no high level or low level classes.

Let’s have a look at the dependency matrix below. It is made of the 287 Nancy.dll classes, in mode indirect dependency. A blue cells means that the class in column depends (directly or indirectly) on the class in row, a green cell means the opposite, and a black cell means that the 2 classes are dependents on each others. A perfectly layered set of classes (which is not wished, but what should be approached) would be a lower triangular matrix blue, and a higher triangular matrix green. Here the matrix has blue and green cells mixed equally in both lower and higher triangulars, which is another way to figured out that classes are not layered.


It means that it must be difficult to unit-test a set of cohesive classes (i.e a component) in isolation from the others (even by using mocks that don’t help in case or re-entrant dependency). It also means that maintenance and evolution must be impaired by this absence of code structure, because touching a single class can virtually have an unexpected effect anywhere in the code base.