One of the things I like about Red Gate is they don’t typically wrap their public statements in legal exclusions and caveats … and yesterday some of their previous statements about Reflector came back to bite them. Remember Bush’s “read my lips – no new taxes” moment? That situation always sucks … and once you get past the initial shock, really isn’t too interesting – its over, things change, move on.
I’ve been working with Reflector for many years and have been writing addins for it for at least half that time … and I will continue to do so. $35 for a tool that I heavily rely on to figure out code fast – that’s a bargain (ever look at Spices.Net decompiler … for $700 a license – me either). Lutz did a great job creating the tool and I would have been more than happy to pay him the $35 too.
Yesterday I was watching Twitter for ‘Reflector’ to see what people were saying … and I realized that a lot of people are now forced to the realization that I came to about 6 years ago on a commuter train when I tried to open Reflector and it wouldn’t work without updating: What the hell? … and what would happen if I can’t use Reflector anymore?
That one moment is what got me interested in disassembling and decompiling. So I read the ECMA spec, read the 2 books out there on IL (Jason Bock and Serge Lidin) and a bunch of other research on compilers/decompilers/disassemblers. Started working on my own disassembler called Debris … and quickly came to the conclusion that it really wasn’t worth my time. Kind of dumb that it took me that long to figure it out, but I could still use that knowledge to write addins for Reflector instead. After all, Reflector was free and allowed me to stand on Lutz’s shoulders instead of sinking all that time into creating it myself.
What do I think now that Reflector isn’t maintained by Lutz and isn’t going to be free? Same conclusion: it isn’t worth my time to write a decompiler/disassembler when Reflector is available for $35. Besides – if I wrote my own – I’d want to sell it for money too.