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Common MSBuild Project Items

In MSBuild, an item is a named reference to one or more files. Items contain metadata such as file names, paths, and version numbers. All project types in Visual Studio have several items in common. These items are defined in the file microsoft.build.commontypes.xsd.

The following is a list of all the common project items.

Reference

Represents an assembly (managed) reference in the project.

Item Attribute Name

Description

HintPath

Optional string. Relative or absolute path of the assembly.

Name

Optional string. The display name of the assembly, for example, "System.Windows.Forms."

FusionName

Optional string. Specifies the simple or strong fusion name for the item.

When this attribute is present, it can save time because the assembly file does not have to be opened to obtain the fusion name.

SpecificVersion

Optional boolean. Specifies whether only the version in the fusion name should be referenced.

Aliases

Optional string. Any aliases for the reference.

Private

Optional boolean. Specifies whether the reference should be copied to the output folder. This attribute matches the Copy Local property of the reference that's in the Visual Studio IDE.

COMReference

Represents a COM (unmanaged) component reference in the project.

Item Attribute Name

Description

Name

Optional string. The display name of the component.

Guid

Optional string. A GUID for the component, in the form {12345678-1234-1234-1234-1234567891234}.

VersionMajor

Optional string. The major part of the version number of the component. For example, "5" if the full version number is "5.46."

VersionMinor

Optional string. The minor part of the version number of the component. For example, "46" if the full version number is "5.46."

LCID

Optional string. The LocaleID for the component.

WrapperTool

Optional string. The name of the wrapper tool that is used on the component, for example, "tlbimp."

Isolated

Optional boolean. Specifies whether the component is a reg-free component.

COMFileReference

Represents a list of type libraries that feed into the ResolvedComreference target.

Item Attribute Name

Description

WrapperTool

Optional string. The name of the wrapper tool that is used on the component, for example, "tlbimp."

NativeReference

Represents a native manifest file or a reference to such a file.

Item Attribute Name

Description

Name

Required string. The base name of the manifest file.

HintPath

Required string. The relative path of the manifest file.

ProjectReference

Represents a reference to another project.

Item Attribute Name

Description

Name

Optional string. The display name of the reference.

Project

Optional string. A GUID for the reference, in the form {12345678-1234-1234-1234-1234567891234}.

Package

Optional string. The path of the project file that is being referenced.

Compile

Represents the source files for the compiler.

Item Attribute Name

Description

DependentUpon

Optional boolean. Indicates whether, to compile correctly, the file depends on another file.

AutoGen

Optional boolean. Indicates whether the file was generated for the project by the Visual Studio integrated development environment (IDE).

Link

Optional string. The notational path to be displayed when the file is physically located outside the influence of the project file.

Visible

Optional boolean. Indicates whether to display the file in Solution Explorer in Visual Studio.

CopyToOutputDirectory

Optional boolean. Default value = false. Specifies whether to copy the file to the output directory.

EmbeddedResource

Represents resources to be embedded in the generated assembly.

Item Attribute Name

Description

DependentUpon

Optional boolean. Indicates whether, to compile correctly, the file depends on another file.

Generator

Required string. The name of any file generator that is run on this item.

LastGenOutput

Required string. The name of the file that was created by any file generator that ran on this item.

CustomToolNamespace

Required string. The namespace in which any file generator that runs on this item should create code.

Link

Optional string. The notational path is displayed if the file is physically located outside the influence of the project.

Visible

Optional boolean. Indicates whether to display the file in Solution Explorer in Visual Studio.

CopyToOutputDirectory

Optional boolean. Default value = false. Specifies whether to copy the file to the output directory.

LogicalName

Required string. The logical name of the embedded resource.

Content

Represents files that are not compiled into the project, but may be embedded or published together with it.

Item Attribute Name

Description

DependentUpon

Optional boolean. Indicates whether, to be embedded or published correctly, the file depends on another file.

Generator

Required string. The name of any file generator that runs on this item.

LastGenOutput

Required string. The name of the file that was created by any file generator that was run on this item.

CustomToolNamespace

Required string. The namespace in which any file generator that runs on this item should create code.

Link

Optional boolean. Indicates whether to display the file in Solution Explorer in Visual Studio.

PublishState

Required string. The publish state of the content, either:

  • Default

  • Included

  • Excluded

  • DataFile

  • Prerequisite

IsAssembly

Optional boolean. Specifies whether the file is an assembly.

Visible

Optional boolean. Indicates whether to display the file in Solution Explorer in Visual Studio.

CopyToOutputDirectory

Optional boolean. Default value = false. Specifies whether to copy the file to the output directory.

None

Represents files that should have no role in the build process.

Item Attribute Name

Description

DependentUpon

Optional boolean. Indicates whether, to be embedded or published correctly, the file depends on another file.

Generator

Required string. The name of any file generator that is run on this item.

LastGenOutput

Required string. The name of the file that was created by any file generator that ran on this item.

CustomToolNamespace

Required string. The namespace in which any file generator that runs on this item should create code.

Link

Optional string. The notational path to be displayed if the file is physically located outside the influence of the project.

Visible

Optional boolean. Indicates whether to display the file in Solution Explorer in Visual Studio.

CopyToOutputDirectory

Optional boolean. Default value = false. Specifies whether to copy the file to the output directory.

BaseApplicationManifest

Represents the base application manifest for the build, and contains ClickOnce deployment security information.

CodeAnalysisImport

Represents the FxCop project to import.

Import

Represents assemblies whose namespaces should be imported by the Visual Basic compiler.

Date

History

Reason

Added information about the Private attribute.

Information enhancement.

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