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I hear the usage of manifests in various ways but never have had the need—to my knowledge—to use one. What are they and how are they used?

EDIT: I'm curious about manifests in general with any language.

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

A manifest is a blob of metadata that describes the assembly itself (name, version, required external assemblies, etc.).

An assembly must contain an associated manifest (also referred to as assembly metadata). The manifest documents each module within the assembly, establishes the version of the assembly, and also documents any external assemblies referenced by the current assembly

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He is asking about Java, not .NET, if you note the tag. – Oded Sep 21 '11 at 19:29
LOL....i just noticed that. I guess manifest should mean the same in both languages. But if they don't let me know, i will delete the answer – Pankaj Upadhyay Sep 21 '11 at 19:32
They don't. See the link Robert posted in his answer. Don't assume. – Oded Sep 21 '11 at 19:33
The essence is same. Both contains the info about the files. – Pankaj Upadhyay Sep 21 '11 at 19:38
Well you all are right, I wanted to know the context of Java and any other languages if it applies. – Kyle Hayes Sep 21 '11 at 20:34

The manifest is a special file that can contain information about the files packaged in a JAR file. By tailoring this "meta" information that the manifest contains, you enable the JAR file to serve a variety of purposes.

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