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How would you enhance MSBuild?

The MSBuild team is trying to prioritize their duties for the next release of MSBuild. Because of this they have asked for feedback on how their customers (us) would enhance MSBuild. They are doing this by distributing a virtual $100 across a possible 11 items. Their list actually ends in an item numbered 12, but there is no number 10. Here is a brief overview of their list of options.

1. Higher Preformance
2. VC Support
3. Support for other project types
4. Convert VS solution file to MSBuild format
5. Better dependency tracking
6. Distributed Build
7. Inline Tasks – ie you write a script right in your MSBuild file instead of a compilied .NET task
8. Scoping for items/properties – ie items/properties can exist in a defined scope
9. Extensible functions – ie being able to add items like the Exists function
11. MSBuild debugger
12. MSBuild visualization 

Here is how I chose to distribute my $100. 

4   - $40
6   - $10
7   - $10
11 - $30
12 - $10

About #4: In my experience, you have 2 scenarios that are the correct way to create build scripts for products. Those are

1.      Create a custom MSBuild file that acts like a solution file

2.      Use a solution file to drive the build process

The only reason to go with 1 is because the solution file is not an actual MSBuild file, otherwise that wouldn’t even be an option. As for option 2, this is not ideal either because it is difficult to inject steps into how the solution build process works. All you can do is really extend what happens before/after the process.

As for the debugger, this is a tool that I have actually wanted to write myself for a long time, but never had the time. If there was a debugger for MSBuild, I think that more people would begin to adopt MSBuild as well as get a much better understanding of how it works.

It’s not often that teams from Microsoft ask for straight customer feature feedback, if you’re interested in future versions of MSBuild then you should definetly participate in this at: http://blogs.msdn.com/msbuild/archive/2007/11/17/how-would-you-spend-100-on-msbuild.aspx. 

Sayed Ibrahim Hashimi

msbuild | Visual Studio Monday, 19 November 2007 06:40:30 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #     |