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Managed VSPackage File Location Keys

[This topic is pre-release documentation and is subject to change in future releases. Blank topics are included as placeholders.]

Visual Studio must be able to locate the assembly DLL to load the VSPackage. You can locate it in various ways, as described in the following table.

Method Description

Use the CodeBase registry key.

The CodeBase key can be used to direct Visual Studio to load the VSPackage assembly from any fully qualified file path. The value of the key should be the file path to the DLL. This is the best way to have Visual Studio load your package assembly. This technique is sometimes referred to as the "CodeBase/private installation directory technique." During registration the value of the codebase is passed to the registration attribute classes through an instance of the RegistrationContext type.

Place the DLL into the PrivateAssemblies directory.

Place the assembly in the PrivateAssemblies subdirectory of the Visual Studio directory. Assemblies located in PrivateAssemblies are automatically detected, but are not visible in the Add References dialog box. The difference between PrivateAssemblies and PublicAssemblies is that assemblies in PublicAssemblies are enumerated in the Add References dialog box. If you chose not to use the "CodeBase/private installation directory" technique, then you should install into the PrivateAssemblies directory.

Use a strong-named assembly and the Assembly registry key.

The Assembly key can be used to explicitly direct Visual Studio to load a strong named VSPackage assembly. The value of the key should be the strong name of the assembly.

Place the DLL into the PublicAssemblies directory.

Finally, the assembly can also be placed into the PublicAssemblies subdirectory. Assemblies located in PublicAssemblies are automatically detected, and will also appear in the Add References dialog box in Visual Studio.

VSPackage assemblies should only be placed in the PublicAssemblies directory if they contain managed components that are intended to be reused by other VSPackage developers. The majority of assemblies do not meet this criterion.


Use strong-named, signed assemblies for all of your dependent assemblies. These assemblies should also be installed in your own directory or the global assembly cache (GAC). This protects against conflicts with assemblies that have the same base file name, known as weak-name binding.

See Also