MSBuild, refactor and targets in other files

Posted by Marcus Hammarberg on October 20, 2008
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I found a very niffty little feature of MSBuild, that is really helpful when it comes to structuring your build file.

In MSBuild the "sub-routines" are called targets and works just like expected, that is you can call the targets and invoke them in the order you like. BUT, there are no way of sending parameters to them - which at first are very hard to understand.

From this article I learned how to do it. And it's not to hard. But it's a bit of a hack... in my opinion.

Actually it's easier to describe it as it's intended from the outset, to call targets in other files. Imagine that you create a MSBuild-file called DeployScript.proj with a target called DeployIt. In order to deploy to different environments we use some variables that instructs MSBuild to deploy to different paths for example. Like the $(PublishWebSitePath) in the example below:

<RemoveDir Condition="Exists('$(PublishWebSitePath)')" Directories="$(PublishWebSitePath)" />
    <MakeDir Directories="$(PublishWebSitePath)" />

We can now call the targets of the DeployScript.proj-file from another file, with parameters, in the following manner:

<MSBuild Projects="DeployScript.proj" Targets="DeployIt" Properties="PublishWebSitePath=\\[server]\[share]" />

And now it's quite easy to understand how to call targets in your own MSBuild-file with parameters. It's works the same way as above. You just give the current build-file name in the projects-value.

Using this technique you'll get a much better way of structuring your build-files. And maybe even get some reusable stuff for your next project...



Published by Marcus Hammarberg on Last updated