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The objective of this project is to allow to fail a build when an incorrect depepdency is created.

To do that, it identifies the projects and libraries being used and allows you to specify the rules that must be followed. Currently it can load Visual Studio and Eclipse project files.

There is also a second command line utility called dependency-console that can be used to interactively query the dependency data.


You just call dependency-checker <config file>. All the information needed comes from the config file.

The executable exit code is the number of errors found. So you can just fail the build if it return a non 0 result. Please not that it has 3 different message levels: Info, Warning and Error and only errors are counted on the result code. This can be used to allow some incorrect dependencies to exist but not fail the build. (more on that latter)

Config file

As an example, the config file for dependency checker itself is:

# List of folders to search for projects. 
# All subfolders are searched.
# All paths are relative to the config file.
input: ..

# Projects and libraries can be ignored
ignore: System

# Ignore all libraries or projects that are not inside the input folders.
ignore: non local: *

# Ignore all libraries that are not projects.
ignore: lib: *

# Both previous could be written as
#ignore: not: local project: *

# An assembly can be in only one group.
# The first line that matches will be used.
group: Command line += *.Cli
group: Tests += *.Test

# These rules always run
rule: don't allow circular dependencies
rule: don't allow self dependencies
rule: no two projects with same name
rule: no two projects with same GUID
rule: no two projects with same name and GUID
rule: avoid same dependency twice				[warning]

# Dependency rules are different. The first one that matches wins.
# They can allow or disallow a dependency.
# -> means that the dependency is allowed
# -X-> means that the dependency is NOT allowed
rule: * -X-> Command line
rule: DependencyChecker.Utils -X-> *
rule: DependencyChecker.Model -X-> DependencyChecker.Presenter
rule: Tests -X-> Tests
rule: * -X-> Tests

# This can be used to ignore some infos (but those help to debug this configuration file).
#in output: ignore loading infos
#in output: ignore config infos

# Different kinds of output.
# Please note that the file extension change the file format.
# All paths are relative to the config file.
output projects:		Results\Reports\DependenciesChecker\projects.txt
output groups:			Results\Reports\DependenciesChecker\groups.txt
output dependencies:	Results\Reports\DependenciesChecker\dependencies.txt 
output dependencies:	Results\Reports\DependenciesChecker\dependencies.xml
output dependencies:	Results\Reports\DependenciesChecker\
output dependencies with errors: Results\Reports\DependenciesChecker\
output architecture:	Results\Reports\DependenciesChecker\architecture.txt 
output architecture:	Results\Reports\DependenciesChecker\architecture.xml
output architecture:	Results\Reports\DependenciesChecker\ 
output results:			Results\Reports\DependenciesChecker\errors.txt
output results:			Results\Reports\DependenciesChecker\errors.xml
output results: console

Let's see what that means:


Comments are all lines that start with # and also all text after a # in a line.

Inputs - input:

Inputs are the paths where the projects and libraries are read. Currently, Visual Studio and Java Eclipse projects are supported.

All sub-directories are searched too.

The projects found are called projects, and the libraries used (that are not projects or the compilation results of projects) are called libraries.

Please note that if you have a project called P1 that compiles to c:\P1.dll and other projects depends on c:\tmp\P1.dll, a dependency between the projects will be created (even if the paths are different).

Also note that a project can have more than 1 name: one for the project itself and one for the dll (or jar) file created. They also can have multiple paths: one for the project and other(s) for the dlls that are used by other projects.

One last detail, there are 2 types of libraries/projects: local and non local. A local one means that it was found inside one of the inputs. A non local one was found outside the inputs. If a project references another that is outside the input folders, it will also be read.

Ignoring projects in the analysis - ignore:

You can ignore any project or library loaded from the inputs. The rules of matching are listed bellow (in Matching projects and library names).

For ex: to ignore everything that is not inside the inputs, you can add the line ignore: non local: *

Creating groups - group:

It's possible to create groups of projects and/or libraries. This helps when writing rules, because you can reference the whole group by its name.

To add elements to a group, use group: Group name += Project.Name. This creates the group Group Name and adds the project Project.Name to it. (all matchings described in Matching projects and library names can be used)

Note that a library/project can be in only one group, so the first line that matches the project identify its group. This means that the order of the group lines in the config file can impact the results.

Creating rules - rule:

This is the core part of the file. The rules describe what dependencies can or cannot exist. There is also some rules to detect problems in the project files.

Allowing a dependency

To allow a dependency between 2 libraries/projects, use ->. For ex: rule: Tests -> Command line says that the tests can depend on the command line projects. Note that these can be group names (or any matchings described in Matching projects and library names).

Allowed dependencies do not generate errors for them.

Banning a dependency

To ban a dependency between 2 libraries/projects, use -X->. For ex: rule: * -X-> Tests says that nothing can depend on the tests. Those do generate errors.


Note that the order of the rules is important. The first rule that matches a dependency is used and defines if the dependency is allowed or not.


You can also specify a severity at the end of the rule line. The possible values are: info, warning and error. Error is the default. For ex: rule: * -X-> Tests [warning].

This can be used to avoid build errors on dependencies that should not exist, but do exist. For example, you can write:

rule:  WrongProject -X-> Tests [warning]
rule:  * -X-> Tests

This will make the dependency of WrongProject with Tests to generate a warning but it won't affect the exit code.

Matching projects and library names

In some of the lines you need to specify a library name (this include projects names too). There are multiple ways to specify a library name: (all matching is case insensitive)

By name

Just any of the project or library names. For ex: Project.Name.

Using *

Similar to filename matching. For ex: *.Name matches all libraries/projects with name ending in .Name.

Using regular expressions - regex:

Any regular expression can be used. Prefix the regex with regex:. For ex: regex: .*\.Name matches all libraries/projects with name ending in .Name.

Match by path - path:

Can be the full path of a folder name. When using a folder name all sub-folders match too. For ex: path: C:\ will match all libraries/projects in the C drive.

Using regular expressions in path - path regex:

Matches agains the full path. For ex: path regex: .*\\Backup\\.* will match all libraries/projects that have a Backup folder in one of its paths.

Match by language - lang:

Matches all libraries/projects that are in the language. Please note that, for libraries, not always the language can ge guessed. For ex: lang: java matches all java libraries/projects

Match by type - project: or lib:
Match only local or not local - local: or non local:

Local libraries/projects are the ones inside one of the inputs. Non local are the ones that are outside the input folders. If a project references a librarie or a project outside the input paths, those are also read.

Inverting a test - not:

Inverts the test that cames after it. For ex: not: lang: C# matches all projects that are not in C#.

Ignoring configuration infos - in output:

Some informational entries will be created to list commom problems in configuration files. If you want you can suppress those from the output. Those are:

  • in output: ignore loading infos: do not output information about problems during reading projects
  • in output: ignore config infos: do not output information about problems in configuration file

Writing the results

The main output is the list of results, but a few other ones can be created too. Those can be used to debug the processing, as input to other tools or just for fun :)

Those are:

  • output projects: - outputs a list of all projects and libraries that were found
  • output groups: - outputs a list of all groups and which projects/libraries are inside them
  • output dependencies: - outputs all dependencies found. The format depends on the file extension: .txt for a humam readable file, .xml for a XML file and .dot for a Graphviz dot file. Please note that this file can be quite big.
  • output dependencies with errors: - outputs a list of dependencies that were flaged by any of the rules. The format depends on the file extension: .txt for a humam readable file, .xml for a XML file and .dot for a Graphviz dot file.
  • output architecture: - output the extrapolated "architeture" of the projects. The architecture is created based on the groups and a match of all the projects/libraries of one group againt all the dependency rules (if a project/library is not inside one group it is ignored)
  • output results: - output the results of the rules. This is the "main" output of the program. The format depends on the file extension: .txt for a humam readable file, .xml for a XML file, .dot for a Graphviz dot file and console to write to the console.


This is a utility command that takes as input a dependencies.xml output of dependency-checker and allows you to query the data via command line.

It has the following commands: (all accept a filter as detailed in Matching projects and library names)

  • libs - list all the projects and libraries
  • info - show details of a project or library
  • groups - show the groups and the projects/libraries inside them
  • dependents of - show the direct and indirect dependants of a project/library
  • referenced by - show all the projects/libraries that are referenced directly or indirectly by a project/library
  • circular dependencies - show all circular dependencies between projects/libraries
  • self dependencies - show all projects/libraries that depend on itself
  • path between - show the dependency path between 2 projects/libraries
  • rule: - see the results of a rule
  • quit - quit the program


msbuild build\build.msbuild


A tool to check the dependencies between projects and libraries




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