I suggest you ...

Support web.config style Transforms on any file in any project type

Web.config Transforms offer a great way to handle environment-specific settings. XML and other files frequently warrant similar changes when building for development (Debug), SIT, UAT, and production (Release). It is easy to create additional build configurations to support multiple environments via transforms. Unfortunately, not everything can be handled in web.config files many settings need to be changed in xml or other "config" files.

Also, this functionality is needed in other project types - most notably SharePoint 2010 projects.

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    Chuck FieldsChuck Fields shared this idea  ·   ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
    Per BornsjöPer Bornsjö shared a merged idea: Add support for .config transformation  ·   · 
    imatioimatio shared a merged idea: Add config transformations to app.config for Unit Test projects  ·   · 
    David BuckinghamDavid Buckingham shared a merged idea: Incorporate the SlowCheetah extension directly into Visual Studio.  ·   · 
    DevSlickDevSlick shared a merged idea: Add Slow Cheetah out of the box  ·   · 
    Nick V. Nick V. shared a merged idea: Option to debug/test using the build configuration's config transform.  ·   · 
    Scott.Scott. shared a merged idea: WinForm application choose app.config for debug based on configuration  ·   · 

    Update 2/14/2017 – I am happy to announce that we have updated the SlowCheetah extension to work with Visual Studio 2017 and 2015. You can install the extension from the VS marketplace: https://marketplace.visualstudio.com/items?itemName=WillBuikMSFT.SlowCheetah-XMLTransforms

    We are also in the process of adding support for additional project and file types. For the latest development news for the extension, check out the GitHub repo: https://github.com/sayedihashimi/slow-cheetah

    Please let us know if you run into any issues by reporting them at the issue tracker on SlowCheetah’s GitHub page.

    Note: if you installed the preview extension for Visual Studio 2015, please be sure to remove it before installing the new one to avoid conflicts.


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      • FredFred commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Macro variables in config files would fix this and be easier than the other proposed solutions. Simple text replacement macro variables from a single project master macro configuration file.

        This is a single pass macro variable method with no support for nested macro variables or no support for anything more than "VARIABLE_A_PATH","TEXT FOR VARIABLE A" in the file.

        VARIABLE_A_PATH would be a multilevel path to allow for scoping - e.g., "DEVICES/SCANNERS/SCANNER_1"

        Json and other proposed schemes are mildly less difficult than .net serialized to xml config files yet will ultimately lead to the same problems as today in ~5 years.

        Give us simple comma delimited KEY <-> Value pairs in a normal text file one per line with escape characters for embedded returns, quotes, commas, line feeds anywhere in the line.

        Lowest common denominator will get 90+% of the scenarios and adding gold plating for the remaining 10% is not worth it.

        The configuration file handling part of .NET should be less than a thousands of lines of code.

        Pointing to a third party VS add in is OK for the short run but the third party VS add-in tool is not something a business customer's $1,000,000+ software project should not have that risk.

        The basic VS tool set should be good to use and supported for 7 - 10 years for each version. A plethora of loosely supported and likely to be zombie or dead in 3 year add-ins is not a good business solution.

        We spent 1 man month on a recent project writing a tool to modify multiple configuration files for other parts of our large solution. It should be easier than using a clumsy special purpose .NET searialized to XML BCL.

      • Richard SchaeferRichard Schaefer commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        @WillBuik - Any updates on support for SlowCheetah in VS2015? The last post to the SlowCheetah project is a "preview" update.

      • Jay TurnerJay Turner commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        This feature is very important to me as I have as WEB site instead of a WEB app and there is no support for transforms built in. I use SlowCheetah to address my needs.

      • shrishshrish commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        It is such a wonderful thing , you have the ability to transform the key, values very easily and efficiently.
        Please continue this, we all want it.

      • Mike-EEEMike-EEE commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Wow I cannot believe I haven't seen this vote until now. 7,000+ votes! FOUR YEARS! How does that happen?! That is like going to college and getting a degree in developer relations fail. There really needs to be more accountability in UserVoice in how long a vote has been open, along with the last time that the administrator has engaged their audience (some weighting around the vote count wouldn't hurt, either).

        With that said, it's good to see the admin responding since late July. Even though this is a terrible cadence ("Agile" has sprints every two weeks?), it is still better than other votes that I have seen here and on UWP's board (OVER one year?! Simply unconscionable!)

        Anyways, reading over the comments and I have to relate to some of the angst other developers are feeling/expressing here. It really seems that .NET is way overdue for a reboot in its project and configuration. There is a movement to make .JSON files the new configuration but that is based in a web technology and not a MSFT-based system. XDTs are a creative approach to configuring an application, but at the end of the day, the web/app.config system is based on XML and the tooling support is TERRIBLE, especially when you compare it to the mature and available designer tools in Xaml (a MSFT invention).

        In addition to XDT support for current/legacy projects, MSFT should really also be spending cycles towards revisiting and innovating its project/configuration system altogether, and in a way that doesn't subjugate itself to external web technologies (thereby decreasing its IP portfolio and ultimately its market value). Food for thought here:

        After spending four years towards NOT doing something towards completing a vote, maybe the answer (also?) involves something a little bigger/ambitious. :P Thank you for any consideration/support.

        (Seriously. Four years. That IS a college degree, folks.)

      • John SaundersJohn Saunders commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        @random: I have never had a problem maintaining transform files. If it were painful, then nobody would want them.

      • RSRS commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        No Transforms! They are rather painful to manage I think.
        I'd prefer to have multiple for example Web.Config files instead.

        Actually for Azure deployment ConnectionStrings can be exchanged in the Publishing dialog. However the same thing does not apply for example to <appSettings>.

        Keeping environments apart (configuration wise) could be way better. Selecting a "config profile" on publish might do the trick.

      • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        @Kevin, Release Management do this manually or is it automated? If it's automated then the developer settings can just be held for the dev environment, Let devs override specific settings so it doesn't get in the way and you don't need a transform anymore.

      • KevinKevin commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        @Anonymous, I am actually using config file transforms even though I am only building once.

        My base config file is set up with the default settings for a developer workstation. I have a single "Release" transform that will replace things like connection strings with tokens, which Release Management will then replace with the appropriate value per environment.

      • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Isn't this perpetuating the artifact per environment anti-pattern? 'only build your binaries once' as recompiling introduces inefficiency into your deployment pipeline

      • Tudor TurcuTudor Turcu commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        @Anonymous, the explanation is quite simple: for .NET vNext a future Visual Studio versions, Microsoft intends to replace the XML-based configuration system (and replace MSBuild too), and to use JSON config files for new projects in the future. Sure, they will be supported in the future, but not developed further.
        This, combined with the fact that the SlowCheetah author was promoted to some management position in Microsoft, explains why config transforms are not built-in in VS2015.

      • PiotrPiotr commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        @Anonymous: well I guess John Saunders really does not get it, what is sad is that in the .NET community I meet a lot of people like him that try to feed others with this attitude (mostly coming from MS I suppose) which is only causing harm and promoting wrong mindset among developers..

      • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        John is that a serious question?

        Well, if it honestly is then there are so many answers, but I will provide the most obvious which is that most developers are still not aware of this plugin and have been forced to come up with other ways to solve this issue. Custom build scripts, batch files, batch files, team city, I have seen a plethora of other solutions (ranging from clever to absolutely hideous).

        Your frankly glib and short cited response 'well there is a solution out there already so why bother' is symptomatic of MS attitude (I would guess you probably work for them) and has led to millions of wasted hours in writing boiler plate deployment code, CI issues and fixing of release bugs thanks to config errors and a multitude of non standard approaches to a day to day issue.

        The fact that someone at ms implemented this for web.config and then didn't bother or wasn't allowed to expand it to XML or just app.config showed a massive lack of understanding of what professional developers really need.

        Instead they were changing icons to grey (despite negative feedback) and captialising fonts? And you sit there telling me this would be a waste of time? You are not a professional developer.

        There are so many other answers to your question but yea they are all pretty obvious

      • John SaundersJohn Saunders commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        @anonymous, why do want Microsoft to waste resources on a problem which already has a solution? Only with the withdrawal of support did it become necessary for Microsoft to spend resources.

      • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Will Buik I would like an answer to my last question, why has it taken the author to stop supporting slow cheetah for you to change your mind and support this most requested feature? Why is it not built in like it is for web.config?

      • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        While this is welcome news, it just blows my mind that this was not even part of your plans for 2015!? Why not, how could you ignore your users for so many years?

        Every developer I know relies on slow cheetah and you guys at MS must surely use it too? It should have been an integral part of the msbuild and visual studio project environment from the start.

        Please stop adding themes and new icons and deliver real beneficial tools.

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