C# – Best practices for large solutions in Visual Studio (2008)


We have a solution with around 100+ projects, most of them C#. Naturally, it takes a long time to both open and build, so I am looking for best practices for such beasts. Along the lines of questions I am hoping to get answers to, are:

  • how do you best handle references between projects
    • should "copy local" be on or off?
  • should every project build to its own folder, or should they all build to the same output folder(they are all part of the same application)

  • Are solutions' folders a good way of organizing stuff?

I know that splitting the solution up into multiple smaller solutions is an option, but that comes with its own set of refactoring and building headaches, so perhaps we can save that for a separate thread 🙂

Best Solution

You might be interested in these two MSBuild articles that I have written.

MSBuild: Best Practices For Creating Reliable Builds, Part 1

MSBuild: Best Practices For Creating Reliable Builds, Part 2

Specificially in Part 2 there is a section Building large source trees that you might want to take a look at.

To briefly answer your questions here though:

  • CopyLocal? For sure turn this off
  • Build to one or many output folders? Build to one output folder
  • Solution folders? This is a matter of taste.

Sayed Ibrahim Hashimi

My Book: Inside the Microsoft Build Engine : Using MSBuild and Team Foundation Build