Difference Between Namespace and Assembly (With Table)

Learning any coding language has become very common or rather mandatory nowadays irrespective of a student’s academic preference. Namespace and assembly are common terms when one is using C++ language or working with the Microsoft .NET framework. One is a feature in a coding language while the other is a partially compiled code that can be used for deployment.  

Namespace vs Assembly

The difference between namespace and assembly is that namespace is a feature present in C++ language that allows a user to group named entities instead of leaving them as global variables whereas assembly represents a collection of types and resources that together form an output unit like .exe or .dll file.

A namespace is defined as the very primitive element of logical code grouping. It helps to group named entities, that is, provide scope to identifiers such as functions, variables, etc. inside the scope. The namespace feature is not present in C and is most commonly used in the C++ language. It doesn’t have any further classifications.

Assembly, on the other hand, forms the foundation for physical code grouping. It is an output unit that is used for deployment, version control, activation scoping, and many more for the .NET-based applications. Assemblies are often known as the building blocks for these .NET applications. Each assembly can contain one or more modules.

Comparison Table Between Namespace and Assembly

Parameters of ComparisonNamespaceAssembly
ClassificationNo further classifications are made in namespace.An assembly has two categories, namely, private and public. The former is specific to one application while the latter can be used in multiple applications.
GroupingA namespace is a feature in coding languages like C++ and C# where it forms the basis of logical code grouping.Assembly forms the logical unit of functionality as it contains a huge collection of types and resources working together.
ApplicationIt is a feature used to declare a scope and organize code into a logical group.Used in .NET-based applications for deployment, version control, etc.
Global scopeIt is declared at a global scope.Various applications are allowed to share assemblies among them by putting them in the global assembly cache (GAC).
NestingA namespace is a feature whose declaration can be nested with another namespace.Nesting is not allowed in assemblies.
NamingIn C++, a namespace can be defined by using the keyword “namespace” followed by assigning a name to it. For example, namespace ns1In assembly, the executable files generally end with .exe or .dll extensions.

What is Namespace?

A namespace is best defined as a declarative region that can provide scope to the identifiers inside it. It is a feature that helps to group and organize code in a logical way that clears the confusion by eradicating the chances of overlapping.

In the case of using multiple libraries, overlapping of names is a very common inconvenience that coders deal with regularly. But, one of the best perks of using a namespace is that it prevents the collision of names.

There are several identifiers in the namespace scope and all of them are visible to one another without any qualification. Identifiers that are present outside the namespace can also have access to the members, either by using the fully qualified name of an identifier or using a declaration for a single identifier.

To declare a namespace, using the keyword “namespace” followed by a space then the variable name is the proper syntax. It doesn’t need a semicolon at the end of the line or declaration.

An identifier is declared in an explicit namespace apart from the entry point main function which is declared in the global namespace.

What is Assembly?

Assemblies are best defined as the fundamental unit of logical code grouping. This means executing purposes like deployment, security permissions, reuse, etc. for the .NET-based applications, assemblies are very important.

An assembly, in simple words, represents a collection of types and resources that are built together either in an executable form (.exe) or a dynamic link (.dll). To know the type implementations, the assembly also provides specific information with common language runtime.

In the case of .NET Core and .NET Framework, the user has the advantage to access more than one source code files to develop an assembly. An assembly can also contain more than one module in the case of .NET Framework. Due to these flexibilities, it helps the developers work on different source code files and then put them together for an assembly. This is what generally happens when working on a large project.

Assemblies are also loaded into the memory as per requirement. Since it is optionable to load the assemblies, the resource management becomes more efficient and smarter.

Assemblies can be both static and dynamic types. In static assemblies, they are stored in the disk in portable executable files whereas dynamic assemblies don’t require saving before execution. They can run directly from the memory.

Main Differences Between Namespace and Assembly

  1. A namespace is a feature that is present in coding languages like C++ and C#. They declare a scope at a global level which helps to group the identifiers. On the other hand, assemblies are executable pieces of code in the Microsoft .NET framework.
  2. A namespace is not divided into categories or any further classifications although there are several ways to access the code outside the namespace. In the case of assemblies, there is private and public assembly.
  3. A namespace allows nesting where the nested namespace has unqualified access to its parent’s members but not the other way around. Assemblies don’t have any nesting features.
  4. Since nesting is a feature of a coding language, they generally start with the keyword “namespace” while declaration. Assemblies end with extensions like .exe or .dll.
  5. A namespace can include multiple assemblies whereas an assembly is allowed to contain types from more than one namespace.

Conclusion

Namespace and assembly are different parts of coding and one cannot be put above another. In a project, a user can witness the working of an assembly as it forms the building block of physical code grouping.

An assembly is an output unit that contains a compilation of several source codes and modules to develop it. On the other hand, a namespace is a feature in a coding language that helps to provide scope to the identifiers.

So, if one is new to learning any coding language, especially, C++ or C#, the namespace feature will come up sooner or later. It is easier to create a namespace while coding but creating an entire assembly takes a great deal of time and that is why multiple developers work on different source code in a big project.

References

  1. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4302-0775-7_17
  2. https://www.hjp.at/(st_a)/doc/rfc/rfc4122.html

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