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Videos on Web Publish updates in ASP.NET 2012.2

Earlier today Scott Guthrie blogged about the release of ASP.NET 2012.2 and Web Tools 2012.2. Between this release and the previous publish update in October we have added some really cool publishing features. Today I created some videos of my favorite features. Take a look below.


Quick Publishing

In this video I will show some productivity enhancements that we’ve made to publish that you are going to absolutely love!

New publish support for web site project

Do you use web site projects in Visual Studio? The video below shows how we have unified the publish support for both web application project and web site project.

Updates regarding web.config transforms

We have added some really cool features related to web.config transforms. To be more specific; profile specific transforms and transform previewing. See the video below for more details.

I hope you guys like these features as much as I do. Please let me know what you think.

Sayed Ibrahim Hashimi | @SayedIHashimi | http://msbuildbook.com/

Tuesday, February 19, 2013 9:19:47 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #     | 
Tuesday, February 12, 2013

MSBuild: DependsOnTargets versus BeforeTargets, AfterTargets

Today I saw a question on StackOverflow asking about the difference between DependsOnTargets and BeforeTargets/AfterTargets. Below is my response.

In my MSBuild Book I have a section based on how to create reusable elements in MSBuild, if you are interested. I'll give some comments here as well though. This content is different from what the book has.

When creating MSBuild files you should be careful to isolate what versus how. To explain that a bit, lets examine how the managed VS projects work out of the box (which is a great model for reusable elements).

When you create a C#/VB project you get a .csproj file, this .csproj file primarily contains Properties and Items. You will not find a single target in that file. These files contains what will get built (along with some settings relating to the build). At the bottom of the project file you will find an import statement. This import bring in How the project is built.

The files which are imported include:

In this case Microsoft.common.targets defines the overall build process for all the managed languages. Then Microsoft.CSharp.targets (or one of the other lang specific .targets file) fills in the blanks of how to invoke the specific language specific tools.

DependsOnTargets versus Before/AfterTargets

In your answer above you state "I recommend to avoid DependsOnTargets unless it is really really necessary, for instance if two". I disagree with this. Here is my take on DependsOnTargets versus Before/AfterTargets.

Use DependsOnTargets when

Use Before/AfterTargets when

To tease out the difference a bit consider web projects. For web projects there are two workflows that the .csproj/.vbproj take care of: 1. Build 1. Publish

If I want to add a target to the list of targets to be executed before the Build target I can dynamically update the BuildDependsOn property for publish scenarios only. You cannot do this with Before/AfterTargets.

In an ideal world each target would have the following wrt DependsOnTargets.

For example


Unfortunately many targets do not follow this pattern, so DependsOnTargets is dead in the water for many cases.

When I am authoring MSBuild scripts I always use DependsOnTargets unless there is a solid reason why I should chose to use Before/AfterTargets. I feel that (I have no insight on the real reasons to the design as I wasn't with Microsoft at the time) Before/AfterTargets was really created to allow users to inject targets to be executed before/after a target which they did not own, and the creators did not use the pattern above.




msbuild | MSBuild 4.0 Tuesday, February 12, 2013 2:16:30 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #     | 
Saturday, February 2, 2013

How to invoke XDT from code

A few weeks ago we released XDT on NuGet, XDT is the technology driving web.config transforms, on NuGet with a license allowing you to redistribute it with your applications. We are working to open source XDT as well so hopefully I will be able to announce that soon as well.

In this post I will show you how you can create a simple application which uses XDT. For this sample we will be creating a console application which will invoke XDT for you. In Visual Studio create a Console Application. I named this project XdtSample. After that we need to add the XDT library. We can easily do this using NuGet. You can execute the following command to insert the package into your project.

 Install-Package Microsoft.Web.Xdt -Pre

Note: after we release the final version you can remove the –Pre flag.

Executing this command will download the XDT assembly as well as add a reference to your project. In program.cs to have the following content.

namespace XdtSample {
    using Microsoft.Web.XmlTransform;
    using System;
    using System.IO;
    using System.Text;

    class Program {
        static void Main(string[] args) {
            if (args == null || args.Length < 3) {

            string sourceFile = args[0];
            string transformFile = args[1];
            string destFile = args[2];

            if (!File.Exists(sourceFile)) { throw new FileNotFoundException("sourceFile doesn't exist"); }
            if (!File.Exists(transformFile)) { throw new FileNotFoundException("transformFile doesn't exist"); }

            using (XmlTransformableDocument document = new XmlTransformableDocument()) {
                document.PreserveWhitespace = true;

                using (XmlTransformation transform = new XmlTransformation(transformFile)) {

                    var success = transform.Apply(document);


                        string.Format("\nSaved transformation at '{0}'\n\n",
                        new FileInfo(destFile).FullName));

                    int exitCode = (success == true) ? 0 : 1;

        static void ShowUsage() {
            StringBuilder sb = new StringBuilder();
            sb.AppendLine("\n\nIncorrect set of arguments");
            sb.AppendLine("\tXdtSample.exe sourceXmlFile transformFile destFile\n\n");

The files will be passed in as command line arguments. Below is the usage of the .exe.

xdtsample. sourceFile transformFile destFile 

In the main method here you can see that we load up the source file in an instance of XmlTransformableDocument. We use the XmlTransformation class to represent the transformFile. After applying the transform we simply save the result to the target location.

Pretty simple. Let me know if you have any questions.

I’ve posted this sample on github https://github.com/sayedihashimi/XdtSample.

Sayed Ibrahim Hashimi | http://msbuildbook.com | @SayedIHashimi

XDT Saturday, February 2, 2013 8:51:37 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #     |