Today we are proud to release first version of MSBuild Sidekick, GUI application for creating and modifying MSBuild project files. The release is available here.
MSBuild Sidekick application is the tool that allows developer to leverage all of MSBuild power in defining build projects. While developing the tool, the emphasis was on simplicity and clearness of GUI. Creating even complicated build files doesn't make developer to focus such details as XML element attributes names and format, allowing instead to focus on build process the project describes, so knowledge of XSD schema is not necessary. With MSBuild Sidekick, it takes minutes to create build file with no manual editing at all!
The Sidekick application supports all valid build projects files, including custom build scripts, generated by Visual Studio projects or Team Build build types. We believe that the main importance of the application lies in closer integration with Team Foundation builds, and we shall continue to pursue it in the next releases.
The application supports creation, editing and removal all elements available in MSBuild schema. As points of special value, it is worth to mention imported build projects support, full task definition support and task properties definitions.
Imported projects allow splitting different logical tasks across several build projects, but managing set of projects may be a pain. With MSBuild Sidekick opening imported project for edit is as simple as double clicking on selected import. Additionally, user may choose to view all imported elements along with elements defined in project.
Tasks are the main force behind MSBuild Engine. The Sidekick application allows easy loading of custom tasks by specifying assembly name or path to assembly file; all tasks are preloaded for easy selection. Predefined (built-in and Microsoft.Build.Tasks) tasks are available with no special configuration.
Tasks properties available for selected task are all visible in grid-like user interface. The Sidekick application provides support both for regular and output task parameters
We hope that the functionality available in the tool will make build projects editing a routine task, and will make custom build projects development easier and less effort-consuming.
In the upcoming posts, we shall continue to explore the functionality of MSBuild Sidekick. General public is kindly invited to participate – any feedback is most welcome!