MSBuild and .csproj Cheat Sheet

16 May 2023 16 May 2023 2 min read MSBuild .NET Cheat Sheet

Project Types 

Official names: SDK-style (modern), non-SDK-style (legacy)

Documentation: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/nuget/resources/check-project-format

Target Framework(s) 

One target framework:

<PropertyGroup>
  <TargetFramework>net6.0</TargetFramework>
</PropertyGroup>

Multiple target frameworks (notice the property changes from “TargetFramework” to “TargetFrameworks”):

<PropertyGroup>
  <TargetFrameworks>net6.0;netstandard2.0</TargetFrameworks>
</PropertyGroup>

Possible target framework names: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dotnet/standard/frameworks#latest-versions

Use LinkBase:

<EmbeddedResource Include="..\..\..\Demo\**\*.cs" LinkBase="Resources" />

Import other MSBuild File 

Imports Project.Shared.props from any parent folder:

<Import Project="$([MSBuild]::GetPathOfFileAbove('Project.Shared.props', '$(MSBuildThisFileDirectory)'))" />

List items from ItemGroup 

To list all items in an <ItemGroup>, use:

<ItemGroup>
  <TestAssemblies Include="**\*tests.dll" />
</ItemGroup>

<Message Importance="High" Text="Found @(TestAssemblies->Count()) test assemblies:" />
<Message Importance="High" Text=" * %(TestAssemblies.FullPath)" />

Remove items from ItemGroup 

To remove items from an <ItemGroup> (here from <ItemsToCopy>), use:

<ItemGroup>
  <ItemsToCopy Remove="**\*.nuget.g.targets" />
  <ItemsToCopy Remove="**\*.nuget.g.props" />
</ItemGroup>

or even:

<ItemGroup>
  <ItemsToCopy Remove="*" />
</ItemGroup>

Common MSBuild Properties 

For a full list, see:

General 

  • $(MSBuildThisFileDirectory): The directory of the current file (.csproj, .targets, .props, …)

  • $(OutputPath): The relative output path (e.g. bin\Debug) - same as $(OutDir)

  • $(TargetDir): The fully qualified path of the output directory $(OutputPath).

  • $(TargetPath): The fully qualified path to the output file.

  • $(TargetName): The name of the target file without file extension (and without path).

  • $(TargetFileName): The name of the target file with file extension (but without path).

For NuGet Packages 

  • $(PackageId): Name of the NuGet package
  • $(PackageVersion): Version of the NuGet package

List All Targets, Properties, And Environment Variables 

To list all MSBuild targets, properties, and environment variables for a build, build with logging Diagnostic (/v:d).

Targets will be listed in the Target Performance Summary:

1>Target Performance Summary:
1>        * ms  GetCopyToOutputDirectoryItems              1 calls
1>        * ms  _GetCopyToOutputDirectoryItemsFromTransitiveProjectReferences   1 calls
1>        0 ms  CreateCustomManifestResourceNames          1 calls
1>        0 ms  SetWin32ManifestProperties                 1 calls
1>        0 ms  PrepareResources                           1 calls
1>        0 ms  ResGen                                     1 calls
1>        0 ms  AfterResGen                                1 calls
...

Properties and their values will be listed under Initial Properties:

1>Initial Properties:
...
1>AppDesignerFolder              = Properties
1>AppDesignerFolderContentsVisibleOnlyInShowAllFiles = false
1>AppendRuntimeIdentifierToOutputPath = true
1>AppendTargetFrameworkToOutputPath = false
1>AssemblyFoldersConfigFile      = C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio\2022\Community\MSBuild\Current\Bin\AssemblyFolders.config
1>AssemblyFoldersConfigFileSearchPath = {AssemblyFoldersFromConfig:C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio\2022\Community\MSBuild\Current\Bin\AssemblyFolders.config,v6.0};
1>AssemblyFoldersSuffix          = AssemblyFoldersEx
...

Environment variables are listed under Environment at start of build:

1>Environment at start of build:
1>ALLUSERSPROFILE                = C:\ProgramData
1>CommonProgramFiles             = C:\Program Files\Common Files
1>CommonProgramFiles(x86)        = C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files
1>CommonProgramW6432             = C:\Program Files\Common Files
1>ComSpec                        = C:\WINDOWS\system32\cmd.exe
1>DriverData                     = C:\Windows\System32\Drivers\DriverData
...