Sunday, February 9, 2014

PSBuild makes working with MSBuild.exe easier from PowerShell

PSBuild is a project started by Sayed Hashimi to simplify working with MSBuild.exe from PowerShell. It is hosted on gitHub.  I really like this project because I love PowerShell and if I can do things in PowerShell then I am more inclined to use PowerShell first. 

PSBuild installs into your Modules folder and is available once you install it by the following very simple command. I love projects that go one extra mile to make setup as easier as possible.  Open PowerShell and copy the following command and paste into console by just right clicking your mouse.

(new-object Net.WebClient).DownloadString("") | iex

Once you have installed it, you can list all the commands available by this command.

Get-Command –Module PSBuild


The most important command we are interested here is Invoke-MSBuild cmdlet.

Get-Help Invoke-MSBuild

There are lots of examples on how to use Invoke-MSBuild

Get-Help Invoke-MSBuild -Examples


MSbuild is very powerful and rightly so as it is used to build visual studio projects.  With Visual Studio 2013 MSbuild is being shipped with Visual Studio and is now referred to as MSBuild 2013. Previously it was shipped with .Net framework and versioning was also different now the version is bumped up to 12.0 from 4.0 to match with VS2013 (it is 12.0). It also comes as separate package known as Build Tools Package. This allows you to install the Build Tools Package as standalone and create a light weight build server. Path to MSBuild has also been changed and Invoke-MSBuild makes it easier for us to not know these different versions and hunt around for paths.  If you want to get MSBuild.exe then you can use one of the cmdlets as



Another one to check the versions

& (Get-MSBuild) /version


If you want to get the MSBuild.exe help then

& (Get-MSBuild) /help

As you have noticed,  you can invoke MSbuild like this if you want but Invoke-PowerShell is better because you don’t have to second guess the syntax of properties and target that you will specify.  You pass properties as hash table. Let’s do something interesting here.

I am going to create an empty mvc website and try to build it and then publish to IIS website using a publish profile.


Simple call to build the project.
PS C:\BadSourceCodes\demoWebApp\demoWebApp> Invoke-MSBuild .\demoWebApp.csproj


You can get the latest log file

PS C:\Get-PSbuildLog

And if you want to open the log file then

PS C:\Open-PSBuildLog

Since this is a web project you can setup web publishing inside visual studio.  You can see these series of article on how to do web publishing here. I have created a website in IIS7 and setup Web Deploy publishing for that website.  Thanks to Sayed for his blog post - I was able to publish my website to the IIS website I by passing these parameters.

>Invoke-MSbuild .\demoWebApp.csproj –DefaultProperties (@{'Configuration'='Release';'DeployOnBuild'='true';'PublishProfile'='Default Settings';'username'='myusername';'password'=’password';'AllowUntrustedCertificate'='true'})


With PSBuild you can create a script that you can schedule to auto run on your build server that will automatically build the project and deploy the web project to IIS website.

Go check out the project on github and happy automating.

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