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Posted 2 Nov 2008
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Automating Compilation in Visual Web Developer 2008 Express

, 2 Nov 2008
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A tutorial on how to compile web pages to DLLs using the Express edition of Visual Web Develper 2008.


Express editions are the down-sized, free IDEs provided by Microsoft so that developers can experiment and get a feel of what the Enterprise editions will look like. One of the products provided in the Express edition suite is Web Developer 2008 Express edition. Visual Web Developer lets us make web applications in .NET. One of the big drawbacks of the Visual Web Developer Express edition is that it helps to debug but does not compile ASPX pages. In other words, no DLL is generated for the ASPX pages. This tutorial will discuss how we can use aspnet_compiler.exe to generate DLLs for web projects developed in Visual 2008 Web Developer Express edition.

For the past several days, I have been writing and recording videos on Design Patterns, UML, FPA, Enterprise blocks, and you watch these videos at You can download my 400 .NET FAQ eBook from here.

Aspnet_compiler.exe to the rescue

As said previously, Visual Web Developer Express does not compile DLLs for ASPX pages. However, we can achieve this by using the compiler aspnet_compiler.exe. Aspnet_compiler.exe is located in the framework directory. You can find it in Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v2.0.50727\. You can download the 2.0 Framework from here.

Below are the command line parameters commonly used with aspnet_compiler.exe:

-?Prints a description of all parameters.
-vSpecifies the path that follows in a virtual path.
-pThe physical path of the application to compile.
-uSpecifies that the compiled application can be updated.
-cCauses the compiled application to be fully rebuilt, overwriting any existing files.
-dCreates the debug output, making the application easier to debug if a problem arises after it is copied.

Using external tools for automation

We will specify the aspnet_compiler.exe utility in the external tools of the IDE. So click on Tools → External tools and you will be shown a dialog box as shown below.

Enter the command, arguments, and the title as shown in the figure below.

The most important part is the arguments. We have used the ProjectDir variable to get the current web project path. So –p provides the project path. –V specifies where the ASP.NET DLL should be sent. We have given the directory name as FullyCompiled. The two dots before the directory name specifies that this folder should be in the web directory. So if your web directory is in "C:\Shiv", then the DLLs will be compiled in "C:\Shiv\FullyCompiled".

-p "$(ProjectDir)" -v / "$(ProjectDir)\..\FullyCompiled"

Now you will find a Compile item in the Tools menu as shown below:

Hit it and you will see a compiled DLL of your ASPX pages in the FullyCompiled folder.


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


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Comments and Discussions

GeneralMy copy of VWD Builds DLL's Pin
memberCARPETBURNER4-Nov-08 5:42 
GeneralRe: My copy of VWD Builds DLL's Pin
Shivprasad koirala5-Nov-08 23:12
memberShivprasad koirala5-Nov-08 23:12 
GeneralRe: My copy of VWD Builds DLL's Pin
CARPETBURNER5-Nov-08 23:47
memberCARPETBURNER5-Nov-08 23:47 
Generalvery handy Pin
ba00214-Nov-08 1:30
memberba00214-Nov-08 1:30 
GeneralGood one Pin
surajfrommumbai2-Nov-08 22:16
membersurajfrommumbai2-Nov-08 22:16 

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