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Finding .NET Transitive Dependencies and Tidying Up Your Project

Do you remember DLL Hell? ๐Ÿ˜ˆ Yes, me too.

If you don't remember, I'm happy for you. No Developer should suffer like that.

Unfortunately, NuGet Packages and References can be (rarely) a new form of Hell. A soft version of Hell, let's be honest. Not the same type of Hell from node_modules. ๐Ÿคช

When solutions grow in size, it's common to see projects referencing multiple versions of the same package or duplicated references.

Today, I want to tell you about Snitch. Snitch is a simple .NET tool that:

"help you find transitive package references that can be removed."

That sounds cool. ๐Ÿ‘

๐Ÿ–‡๏ธ Transitive Dependencies

Let's start by defining what a Transitive Package Reference (or Transitive Dependency) is.

A Transitive Dependency is a dependency induced by the dependencies of the direct references of that project.

Let me give you an example.

Imagine that you have projects A, B and C. The dependency flow is A -> B -> C. So, Project A references Project B, which references Project C. In this case, A is transitively dependent on C. Why? Because it was induced by the dependencies of the direct reference Project B.

Transitive Dependency

Now we know what Transitive Dependencies are.

๐Ÿค” Transitive Dependencies eventual problems

A question still remains: How does that contribute to Dependency Hell?

Ok. Let's get back to our Projects A, B and C.

This time, Project A will depend on both Project B, and C. Project B and C don't know each other.

Now imagine you have Newtonsoft.Json version 12.0.2 installed in A, B and C. Next time you need to update it, you update on A and B. You completely forgot C. That can lead to a mess.

You probably noticed in the example above that we not only have a problem with having multiple versions of the same package, but we also have a dependency that can be removed since it's already a transitive dependency.

We are talking about Project A referencing Newtonsoft.Json as well, where its dependencies already reference it.

If you like to keep things clean ๐Ÿงผ and tidy ๐Ÿงน, I bet that now you can see the value of it.

๐Ÿงน Using Snitch

The best part is that Snitch is simple and frictionless.

You just install the tool and run it.

Let's see how.

To install, it's a simple dotnet tool. Once you have .NET CLI installed, just run:

dotnet tool install -g snitch

Then, using the terminal, navigate to the folder of a .NET solution and run:


You will likely see a beautiful result like this:

Transitive Dependency

Out of curiosity, Snitch has this elegant user experience since it's based on Spectre.Console. Go check it out (after you finish reading) and give it a start on GitHub. Patrik Svensson has a track record of awesomeness โญ.

Now that you have executed it, you can clean your solution. I bet you have found some things that you were not aware of.

๐Ÿคž Hope and Wrap Up

Like anything that Patrik Svensson does, this project looks amazing.

There's only one thing that I would love to have here. I would love that Snitch could consider the dependency tree of installed NuGet packages. So, when you install "Newtonsoft.Json" (as an example), Snitch would be able to know that you are depending on version "1.x" of "System.Runtime.Serialization.Primitives" and use that information to help you out.

Even without that, it's a super helpful tool.

Give it a try. I bet it will be part of your toolbox.

Let me know if you have found it useful, follow me on Twitter (@gsferreira), and let's keep in touch.