2011-05-29

Wonderful MSBuild

So, for some time now, whenever I try to 'batch build' from within Microsoft Visual Studio 2010, I get the following error:

C:\WINDOWS\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v4.0.30319\Microsoft.Common.targets(2868,9): error MSB3021: Unable to copy file "x\Intermediate\y.dll" to "x\y.dll". Could not find file 'x\Intermediate\y.dll'.

Indeed, there is no file 'x\Intermediate\y.dll'. But when I switch configurations and try to build the regular (non-batch) way, it builds fine.

Amused, and since I can live without the batch-build functionality, I have just let it be all this time, writing it off as one more of those weird wonders of Microsoft.

Then today I figured out what the problem was. I am to blame, because I brought this upon myself. And I brought it upon myself while trying to circumvent some other, even more wonderful, weird wonder of Microsoft.

My MSBuild woes begun years ago, on my very first day of C# programming, when I saw those "bin" and "obj" directories in my project folder, and my first reaction was, of course, to want to make them go away.

There is an option in project properties to set the output folder, but not the intermediate folder. This takes care of the "bin" folder, but the stupid tool keeps creating an "obj" folder under the solution folder and puts all intermediate files in there, no matter what.

As you might understand, I decided that I just would not have any of that shit. I was determined to never write a single line of C# if I did not first find a way to make that annoying obj directory go away.

Needless to say, on my first day of C# programming I did not write any C# at all. I just banged my head against the keyboard triyng to find a way to get that folder to go away.

After a lot of googling around, I discovered allegations about the existence of some <IntermediateOutputPath> tag that goes inside a project file. So, I edited the .csproj file with my text editor and after each <OutputPath> tag I inserted an <IntermediateOutputPath> tag as follows:

<IntermediateOutputPath>x\Intermediate\</IntermediateOutputPath>

(where x is my output path.)

Now, MSBuild would put the intermediate files in the folder that I specified, but it kept ALSO putting them in "obj" under my solution folder. That was just mind-blowing.

So, I took a drastic measure: I deleted the "obj" folder and I created an empty text file called "obj" in its place, which I marked as read-only and hidden, and I added it in the ignored files in SVN.

Strangely enough, this awful hack worked. Or at least it appeared to work. Just today I realized that it worked for the regular build, but it has been the reason why my batch-build does not work.

So, it appears that the only way to have batch-build functionality in Visual Studio is to resign to having a stupid "obj" folder under your project folder. Oh, well!

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