ReSharper 2021.2 Help

Explore project dependency diagram

With ReSharper, you can explore project dependencies in your solution having a visual presentation of the solution architecture.

The Architecture View opens in a new editor tab and allows visually exploring project dependencies and comparing the current state of the solution to snapshots taken earlier.

ReSharper: project dependency diagram

Open project dependency diagram

  1. In the Solution Explorer, select one or several projects, one or several solution folders, or the solution node.

  2. Right-click the selection and choose Show Project Dependency Diagram or choose ReSharper | Architecture | Show Project Dependency Diagram in the main menu.

  3. The Architecture View. opens in a new document tab showing dependencies for the items that you selected initially.

  4. The initially selected items are also checked in the left part of the Architecture View, which lists all solution items. You can check other items: they will appear in the diagram and the corresponding links will be added.

  5. If necessary, you can change grouping of items using the Group by selector in the toolbar:
    • None- all projects are displayed without grouping.

    • Solution Folders- projects are grouped by solution folders.

    • File Structure- projects and solution folders are grouped by the file system structure.

ReSharper builds the diagram in two steps:

  1. Build the dependency diagram based on the project references.

    This step is done automatically when you open the diagram and it takes almost no time even for large solutions.

  2. Perform the coupling analysis to calculate numbers of usages in the referencing project.

    This step is resource-intensive and can take up to several minutes, but it runs in the background. The progress of the analysis is reflected on the status bar at the top of the Architecture View.

    The state of the coupling analysis corresponds to the state of the Enable Coupling Analysis Themed icon metric display screen gray button. The coupling analysis is a resource-intensive process and may affect performance on large solutions. If you experience any lags when working with the diagram, you can use this button to disable the coupling analysis, adjust the diagram as needed, and then enable the analysis again. The analysis algorithm first calculates the coupling of the displayed projects and then processes projects hidden from the view.

Links between projects in the diagram can be displayed in the following ways:

Line styleMeaning
Black solid line

Shows that there is a project reference between the two nodes.

These lines are used when coupling analysis is either in progress or disabled, so the number of usages between projects is unknown.

Blue solid line of specific widthThe coupling analysis is over for this reference and at least one usage exists in the referencing project. The line thickness represents how many times types of the referenced project are used in the referencing project. If you hover the mouse over a reference, this number appears in the tooltip.
Dotted line

Appears when the coupling analysis is over and means one of the following:

  • There is a project reference from one project to another and there may be using directives, but no compile-time usages. You can safely remove this reference.

    To do so, right-click the line and choose Safe Delete Reference

  • The two projects are linked through other referenced projects that are currently hidden from the view.

Green solid lineThe reference is missing in the snapshot but it exists in the solution. Can only appear if the Show Diff Themed icon graph diff screen gray button is on.
Red solid lineThe reference exists in the snapshot but is missing in the solution. Can only appear if the Show Diff Themed icon graph diff screen gray button is on.

Show and hide items

You can show or hide specific solution items (projects, folders, solution folders) in the diagram using check-boxes for the corresponding items in the left.

There are also several ways to show/hide items right from the diagram area:

  • To select some items in the diagram and hide others, Ctrl -click items you want to select, then right-click the selection and choose Selection | Show only selected modules.

  • To select two linked items, right-click the link between them and choose Selection | Show only selected modules.

  • To hide an item, you can select it in the diagram and press Delete.

  • Another way to concentrate on specific items is to display the dependent or referenced projects and hide all other items. To do so, select one or more items (projects or grouping items), right-click the selection and choose Show This/These and Dependent/Referenced. Note that these commands only hide the irrelevant items and do not add any referenced/dependent nodes, which are currently hidden.

  • To display all items referenced by or dependent on the specific projects, even if these items are currently hidden from the view, select one or more items and choose Selection | Add referenced/dependent modules.

If necessary, you can reverse changes made in the diagram (shown/hidden projects) step by step by clicking Undo Themed icon undo screen gray or pressing Ctrl+Z. To reverse the Undo commands, click Redo Themed icon redo screen gray or press Ctrl+Y.

Pan and zoom the diagram

To pan and zoom the diagram, use the controls in the upper left corner of the diagram area. Alternatively, you can pan the diagram using your touchpad, scroll bars or click anywhere in the diagram area outside the diagram items and drag while the hand cursor Cursor hand is shown. You can also use the mouse wheel for zooming.

Rearrange items on the diagram

The diagram layout is calculated automatically, but you can change it if necessary: all items can be moved. To move an item, first click it to select, and then click and drag it while the cross cursor Cursor cross is shown.

Group projects on the diagram

Using the Group by selector, you can group projects by solution folders or by file system structure. The grouping applies both in the left part and in the diagram.

If necessary, you can collapse and expand grouping items in the diagram in one of the following ways:

  • Click the down arrow in the left top corner of the grouping item. When collapsed, the sign changes into an up arrow and you can click it to expand the item.

  • Select a grouping item in the diagram and press Ctrl + Left Arrow and Ctrl + Right Arrow.

  • Click Collapse Graph Themed icon collapse graph screen gray and Expand Graph Themed icon expand graph screen gray on the toolbar to collapse or expand all grouping items.

Analyze project references

To learn more about the usages of types from one project in another, select the corresponding link between the projects and press Alt+F7 or right-click and choose Show Usages. ReSharper will show the usages in the Find Results window.

If the coupling analysis is over for a specific reference and ReSharper highlights it as unused (with a dotted line), you do not need to switch from the diagram to remove the unused reference - just select it and press Control+Shift+R or right-click and choose Refactor This. Then press Alt+Delete or click Safe Delete Assembly Reference.

Detect possible architecture problems

If you are trying to follow the best practices in solution architecture, your application probably has the layered structure with separate layers that communicate with each other.

The Show possible paths Themed icon possible paths screen gray button allows you to find out whether the application layers are designed correctly, not only in terms of grouping, but also in terms of communications between the layers. In short, when the button is on, you can see whether two specific projects have a path between them consisting of other referenced projects that are currently hidden from the view. These paths are shown in green dotted lines. The button is only enabled if there are hidden intermediary projects that would link any two of the currently displayed projects.

To illustrate the way it works, consider the following example:

  1. Imagine that we have a large solution and are now analyzing the 'Services' architecture layer which is represented by the corresponding solution folder. We show the two projects that we are interested in, others are hidden:

    Detecting possible architecture problems

  2. The two projects do not have direct project references between them, however, if we enable the Show possible paths Themed icon possible paths screen gray button, we'll see that there is a path between these projects through other projects:

    Detecting possible architecture problems

  3. To see how these two projects can depend on each other, we right-right on the path link and choose Show path. The intermediary projects appear on the diagram, and we can see that they all are in another layer:

    Detecting possible architecture problems

Based on this information, we can see that the application structure may need to be reworked.

Export the diagram to a file

At any point of exploring dependencies, you can use the following toolbar buttons to export the diagram to a file:

  • Export to PNG Icon export to png to export the current view of the diagram to a PNG image.

  • Export to GraphML Icon export to graphml to export the diagram in the GraphML format for external analysis.

  • Export to XPS Icon export to xps to export the diagram in the XPS format if you need to print a large diagram.

Compare saved snapshots to the current solution state

At any time you can save a snapshot of the current state of your solution to a file and use it for future references. To do so, click Save Architecture Graph Themed icon save graph screen gray on the toolbar and then choose where to save the snapshot file.

You can load and study saved snapshots later by choosing ReSharper | Architecture | Compare With Saved... in the main menu and selecting a diagram snapshot file .argr.

The snapshot will open in a new editor tab and you will be able to see differences between the current state of the solution and the state saved in the snapshot.

If the dependency diagram was opened from file, the Show Diff Themed icon graph diff screen gray button becomes available and toggled on by default. You can use this button to show or hide the differences between the snapshot and the current solution state.

Last modified: 29 September 2021