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Hi experts,

I have a project on my development machine (VisualStudio 2008 Standard) that is set to Debug|Any CPU. I copied it to the live machine (with other hardware, drivers, etc) that has Visual Studio 2008 Express installed.

The selector for Debug vs Release is grayed out, just like the one for Any CPU vs Konfigurations Manager.

On the live machine, I can no longer see the "Symbols for conditional compilation" (roughly translated from German) in the project's "Build" tab.

Therefore I cannot remove some symbols that need to be removed on the target machine.

What shall I do to get thos dropdowns populated and the configurations visible?
Posted 15-Nov-12 2:50am
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Solution 1

Visual Studio Express does not support all the features of the standard version so you will have problems moving this way. Your best option is to create a new empty project in the Express version and add your source modules into it manually.
Sergey Alexandrovich Kryukov 15-Nov-12 10:36am
Really?! Not even configurations? If so, could you tell me what happens to debug information options? Or maybe the debug information option is directly available, as well as optimization switch?

I'm not using Express version, but you see, many recommend using them to the people who cannot obtain full VS versions. If Express version merely lacks some tools, it would be fine, but configurations... If configuration cannot be modified, what the compilation does: always available debugging, or what? Or still there is a way to switch debugging/optimization on/off?
Could you explain if VS Express is fully usable in this respect or not?

(5 anyway, by the way; I guess you know what you say -- and Express limitations is not your fault :-)
Sergey Alexandrovich Kryukov 15-Nov-12 10:53am
On second thought, I decided to add a more universal solution, just in case, which is free of any thinkable limitation. I actually uses this approach and the results can be very satisfying. I could be some overkill though...
Richard MacCutchan 15-Nov-12 11:10am
I said Visual Studio Express does not support all the features of the standard version; so some parts of a project file may confuse it. I think they tried to fix this with VS2010 when they moved to XML based project files.
Sergey Alexandrovich Kryukov 15-Nov-12 11:17am
You see, the project files themselves are universal (but different versions of Studio work with different versions of project schema, as you know) -- please see my answer.

So, a limited version of the VS (Express) can only disable some changes, but hardly change the way the project is built. (I'm not sure though; that's why I'm trying to ask you.) My worry is the ability to produce assemblies with debug info on/off, optimization on/off...
Richard MacCutchan 15-Nov-12 11:27am
The project files are not universal, I came across this problem some time ago. The early Express version files were different from the standard version ones. As I say, I think they tried to fix this with 2010 by moving to XML based project files.
Sergey Alexandrovich Kryukov 15-Nov-12 13:26pm
Thank you.

Interesting, could you please explain what do you mean? How they are different?

Actually, if they are different in content, this is not what I mean. The format and schema should be the same. Event Mono uses the same project files created by Studio, as well as MonoDevelop and SharpDevelop -- and visa versa. Well, if something is wrong here, it indeed can be a big problem. So, could you remember what was the problem and what kind of differences?
Richard MacCutchan 16-Nov-12 5:38am
Sorry, I cannot recall the exact details but there were definite differences and the Express edition could not always load a 'standard' project file successfully. This was not a serious enough issue for me to report to Microsoft. I also discovered some differences in the actual project engine (see MSDN ref) when writing my Custom Wizard article.
Sergey Alexandrovich Kryukov 16-Nov-12 11:31am
That's a pity, something which makes using Express more questionable than I though. Thank you anyway.
Richard MacCutchan 16-Nov-12 12:02pm
I don't think that's true. The Express editions are perfectly usable to create applications, as long as you accept their limitations. However, for commercial work I would always recommend a professional edition.
Sergey Alexandrovich Kryukov 16-Nov-12 12:14pm
Well, maybe you are right. I did not say it's not usable, I just think that barrier between Express and professional versions might make the usability questionable. Transition from one some available project to Express -- it this is a problem, it's pretty bad. I don' question the possibility to work inside Express all the time.

However, even this barrier which you experienced in the past, being unpleasant, is not a stopper at all. One approach is the one you explained in your answer, another is the one I explained in mine -- project format it well documented, so anyone can develop a conversion code.

Actually, there are a couple of CodeProject articles where such thing is done, but only for converting back to older version, which is a good thing, for example, well, for publishing CodeProject articles...

lukeer 19-Nov-12 3:50am
Thankfully, that won't be necessary this time. I was pointed to a solution and posted it here.
Sergey Alexandrovich Kryukov 19-Nov-12 11:41am
By the way, OP referenced the resolution for this particular case -- please see, it turns out to be simpler...
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Solution 2

In addition to Solution 1:

If Visual Studio Express limitation is a critical issue (please see my comments to Solution 1: I'm not sure), you should understand that you can always build any project without Studio at all. As a matter of fact, Visual Studio itself does not build anything, it only provide input to the build system.

Everything needed for build is bundled not with Visual Studio, but with .NET Framework itself, which is freely distributed and is a re-distributable. At the very least, you always have C# and VB.NET compilers and build system (used via MSBuild) — for free. And this way of build has absolutely no limitations. Please see:[^],[^].

In case of critical problems, you can always learn the structure of project files and modify such file directly. I can only recommend it as a last resort. Also, you can build very custom project files to build anything at all, related to .NET or not. This build project language is purely declarative and very powerful. If you do it, you can develop very robust build system fully automating required configuration twists is a fully safe way (in particular, by passing custom options in command-line parameters of MSBuild), without touching the project files manually after they are developed and debugged. I could provide very good alternative project/solution maintenance.

lukeer 19-Nov-12 3:49am
Thanks, those links may come handy some time.
For now, I've been pointed to a solution and posted it here.
Sergey Alexandrovich Kryukov 19-Nov-12 11:39am
You are welcome.
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Solution 3

Thanks to all that tried to help, but the solution this time was so much more profane: A collegue told me that there was a switch to activate in Express editions to enable configuration and platform dropdowns. See here[^].
Having those options hidden intentionally by default puzzles me.

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