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How to: Build a Project That Has Resources

If you are building localized versions of a project, all user interface elements must be separated into resource files for the different languages. If the project uses only strings, the resource files can use text files. Alternatively, you can use .resx files as the resource files.

The library of common tasks that is provided with MSBuild includes a GenerateResource task that you can use to compile resources in either .resx or text files. This task includes the Sources parameter to specify which resource files to compile and the OutputResources parameter to specify names for the output resource files. For more information on the GenerateResource task, see GenerateResource Task.

To compile resources with MSBuild

  1. Identify the project's resource files and pass them to the GenerateResource task, either as item lists, or as file names.

  2. Specify the OutputResources parameter of the GenerateResource task, which allows you to set the names for the output resource files.

  3. Use the Output element of the task to store the value of the OutputResources parameter in an item.

  4. Use the item created from the Output element as an input into another task.

The following code example shows how the Output element specifies that the OutputResources attribute of the GenerateResource task will contain the compiled resource files alpha.resources and beta.resources and that those two files will be placed inside the Resources item list. By identifying those .resources files as a collection of items of the same name, you can easily use them as inputs for another task, such as the Csc task.

This task is equivalent to using the /compile switch for Resgen.exe:

Resgen.exe /compile alpha.resx,alpha.resources /compile beta.txt,beta.resources

<GenerateResource
    Sources="alpha.resx; beta.txt"
    OutputResources="alpha.resources; beta.resources">
    <Output TaskParameter="OutputResources"
        ItemName="Resources"/>
</GenerateResource>

The following example project contains two tasks: the GenerateResource task to compile resources and the Csc task to compile both the source code files and the compiled resources files. The resource files compiled by the GenerateResource task are stored in the Resources item and passed to the Csc task.

<Project DefaultTargets = "Build"
    xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/developer/msbuild/2003" >

    <Target Name="Resources">
        <GenerateResource
            Sources="alpha.resx; beta.txt"
            OutputResources="alpha.resources; beta.resources">
            <Output TaskParameter="OutputResources"
                ItemName="Resources"/>
        </GenerateResource>
    </Target>

    <Target Name="Build" DependsOnTargets="Resources">
        <Csc Sources="hello.cs"
                Resources="@(Resources)"
                OutputAssembly="hello.exe"/>
    </Target>
</Project>
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