Wednesday, June 8, 2005

Non-VSS Source Control for Easier Automation of ASP.Net Projects

[This was originally posted at]

Like many Microsoft developers, I've used VSS as my primary source control system - and suffered for it. Perhaps the biggest problem I've had with VSS is the inability to batch the creation of ASP.Net web projects. Such applications require a virtual directory, and it seems like VSS hard-codes this info into a binary (not even an XML file) somewhere.

Automating Web project creation is useful for improving process. For example, you could create a batch script that get a version (whether the latest of a branch) from source control, and does all the preparation work to make it ready for development (set config values, create its own databases, make the virtual directories, etc...)

Normally to automate ASP.Net app creation (which I'll discuss more in another blog), you need to:

  1. Get the source code
  2. Create the virtual directory in IIS (with VBS, Directory Services, or even NAnt's tag).
  3. Set the virtual directory in the *.webinfo file
  4. Set the virtual directory in the solution file

The problem becomes when VSS is tightly integrated into Visual Studio, then it creates a fifth step:

  1. Find that binary file, "decode" it, set the virtual directory, and recode.

After *hours* of looking at this, I finally had to move onto other things.

However, my new firm (Ameripay) uses non-VSS source control that isn't tightly integrated into VS.Net, so it doesn't have that limiting 5th step. Consequently, I can now automate the creation of Web projects.

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