Product Reviews

PreEmptive Dotfuscator Secures Code

New code obfuscation tool secures and manages your applications.

In a world of managed code and interpreted runtimes, PreEmptive Technologies' Dotfuscator goes a long way toward protecting your proprietary application code from snoops. But the product can also help developers know what their customers are doing with their software.

Dotfuscator employs code obfuscation to prevent unauthorized parties from converting the intermediate language (IL) code used in .NET executables back into source code. You need obfuscation if you're distributing code to customers who may try to steal the intellectual property represented by your code, or if your code contains sensitive information you want to keep secret, such as connection strings.

Visual Studio comes with Dotfuscator Community Edition (CE), providing base-level protection. Unfortunately, the CE version is awkward to use: It must run as a separate application from Visual Studio, and developers then incorporate the obfuscated output into the target distribution package. Upgrading to the Micro Developer Edition (MDE) of Dotfuscator improves Visual Studio integration so that the obfuscated version of your code is automatically generated whenever you do a build, either from the IDE or from the command line.

It's a shame that the name of the product is tied so closely to code obfuscation, because there's more in the box. Runtime Intelligence allows you to track usage, runtime environment and client demographics. Runtime Intelligence also supports tamper protection, which will notify you if someone attempts to alter your code and then execute it.

Dotfuscator also extends into the realm of license control. The Shelf Life feature lets you specify an expiration date for your application, after which it will no longer run. Note that you'll need to obtain a free activation key from PreEmptive to use Shelf Life.

Dotfuscator Micro Developer Edition

PreEmptive Solutions
Price: $399 per year

About the Author

Peter Vogel is a system architect and principal in PH&V Information Services. PH&V provides full-stack consulting from UX design through object modeling to database design. Peter tweets about his VSM columns with the hashtag #vogelarticles. His blog posts on user experience design can be found at

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