Have you ever tried to figure out why your MSBuild-based build is failing? While the diagnostic output is OK, it really isn’t an each task (no pun intended) to debug what’s going on in an MSBuild file with the traditional means of <Message> tasks. Fortunately, Dan Mosely, one of the MSBuild developers, had some time on vacation and got MSBuild debugging working in the IDE! This is a secret feature is in the VS 2010 IDE, but not enabled for the RTM bits. Dan has finally blogged about how to enable the awesomeness he wrote on his own time. When Dan first showed me how easy it was to debug an MSBuild file, I shouted with joy because this is the one thing that’s stopped people from taking the MSBuild automation approach to the next level. The only problem with my shout of joy is that I had to keep quiet about it until Dan shared it with the world. I’ve been debugging my custom MSBuild files with the IDE for a while and it works like a dream.
Remember, this is an unsupported feature, but for those of us doing more than just straight project files, meaning everyone that does real software development builds, Dan’s debugging engine is a super nice treat. Maybe we should ask Microsoft to let Dan go on vacation more often!