Hack the Build: Use Whidbey Beta2 to target .NET Runtime 1.1

Jomo Fisher – A while back, I posted a sample that showed how to target the .NET 1.1 runtime (the version that came with Visual Studio .NET 2003 also known as Everett) with MSBuild. Now Beta 2 has rolled around and I can see that there have been enough changes to MSBuild to warrant an entire rewrite of that original sample.

I’ll get into the details of how it all works down below, but right now let’s just get it working on your machine. Here are the steps:

(1)   Copy this MSBuild targets file to “C:\program files\msbuild\CrossCompile.CSharp.targets

(2)   Create a new C# project somewhere called MyApp.

(3)   Use notepad to edit MyApp.csproj. Replace the entire <Import> tag with

  <Import Project="$(MSBuildExtensionsPath)\CrossCompile.CSharp.targets" />

(4)   When prompted, reload the project. You’ll have to answer a security dialog.

(5)   In VS, click the drop-down that says ‘Any CPU’ and select ‘Configuration Manager’

(6)   Under Active Solution Platform, select <New…>

(7)   Select ‘.NET 1.1’ (pretty cool, eh?) and press OK.

(8)   Build and notice error about System.Collections.Generic. This means its working because generics aren’t supported in 1.1.

(9)   Open Program.cs and delete the line:

using System.Collections.Generic;

     And rebuild.

That’s it, its working.

As with the last sample I posted on this, I expect that only basic scenarios will work here. If you run into a problem, drop me a note. If I see a quick solution I'll post it. Otherwise, I can still publish those limitations here so that other people can learn from your experience.

What’s New?

There are some differences between this version and the prior sample I published that show off some nice new features in MSBuild for Beta2:

  • This version shows how to add entirely new Platforms for VS to pick up. See the $(AvailablePlatforms) property in CrossCompile.CSharp.Targets. You could, pretty easily, add other targets from .NET 1.0 or any other tool that is roughly command-line interchangeable with CSC.EXE.

  • The reference resolution logic in this version is far more robust. Many more scenarios should work now, including references to third-party assemblies as well as project-to-project references. (Though you still can't reference 2.0-compiled assemblies into 1.1 projects--this is a limitation built into the CLR itself).

  • We’ve added a new built in property called $(MSBuildExtensionsPath) which is defined to be like “C:\Program Files\MSBuild”. This is a well-known spot where people can dump their custom targets files. This saves you from having to hard-code a path in your project or template.

  • Targets can now be entirely overridden. The GetFrameworkPaths targets from Microsoft.Common.Targets is overridden in CrossCompile.CSharp.Targets so that an alternate directory for target framework directory can be injected.

  • This version doesn’t build 2.0 and 1.1 at the same time. This is nicer, I think, because otherwise you see duplicate errors when you build.

Moving On

At the end of this month I'm moving from the MSBuild team (5th floor, building 41 in Redmond) to the C# team (1st floor, building 41 in Redmond). Working on MSBuild has been a blast and I intend to keep on blogging about it if I think I having something of value to say. After a while, I hope to have something useful to say about C# too. I think "Hack the Build" still fits, so I'll keep the name.

This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights.

Comments (107)
  1. Daniel Moth says:

    Blog link of the week 16

  2. interscape says:

    I think there’s a bug in the targets file. I think this line (in the PropertyGroup)


    Should read like this:


    I’m not 100% sure. You’d know better than I do.

  3. Good eye for spotting that TargetFrameworkVersion issue. However (and unfortunately) the code will only work the way it is now. This property is only used to remove references to warnings that only exist for CSC 2.0. See mention of this property in Microsoft.CSharp.targets.

    We hope to fix this issue in Microsoft.CSharp.targets before we ship.

    This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights.

  4. Jomo Fisher has posted an update of his build targets for VS2005 beta 2, with these, you can build apps…

  5. TM says:

    Since the release of&amp;nbsp;beta2 of Visual Studio 2005 I have been looking for a way to code in beta2…

  6. TM says:

    Since the release of&amp;nbsp;beta2 of Visual Studio 2005 I have been looking for a way to code in beta2…

  7. Thanks for the info! Sorry to see you leave the MSBuild team

  8. casey says:

    Very cool. Perhaps it will be possible to add Mono and IKVM targets as well!

  9. Ryan Schneider says:

    I’ve tried using this in Express Beta 2, but am getting an error.

    When I do a build, I get the following 1 warning and 1 error:

    Warning 1 The "CFResGen" task could not be loaded from the assembly C:WINDOWSMicrosoft.NETFrameworkv2.0.50215\Microsoft.CompactFramework.Build.Tasks.dll. Could not load file or assembly ‘file:///C:WINDOWSMicrosoft.NETFrameworkv2.0.50215Microsoft.CompactFramework.Build.Tasks.dll’ or one of its dependencies. The system cannot find the file specified. Confirm that the <UsingTask> declaration is correct, and that the assembly and all its dependencies are available. C:Program FilesMSBuildCrossCompile.CSharp.targets 0 0

    Error 2 The "CFResGen" task was not found. Check the following: 1.) The name of the task in the project file is the same as the name of the task class. 2.) The task class is "public" and implements the Microsoft.Build.Framework.ITask interface. 3.) The task is correctly declared with <UsingTask> in the project file, or in the *.tasks files located in the "C:WINDOWSMicrosoft.NETFrameworkv2.0.50215" directory. C:Program FilesMSBuildCrossCompile.CSharp.targets 113 3

  10. Ryan Schneider says:

    Replacing occurances of "CFResGen" with just plain "ResGen" seems to do the trick for me. I assume "CF" refers to the compact framework, which isn’t part of Express, correct?

  11. Is it possible? Yes, it is possible, though not without a little finesse.


    Jomo Fisher has a…

  12. OK, this is pretty cool.. so now for another challenge: supporting the same mechanism for ASP.NET 1.1 websites.. and not have VS.NET mess up the code when converting to a VS 2005 project….

  13. The line:

    <UsingTask TaskName="CFResGen" AssemblyFile="$(MSBuildBinPath)Microsoft.CompactFramework.Build.Tasks.dll" />

    Implies a requirement for the CompactFramework. Installing the ‘Smart Device Programmability’ in VS2005. I was getting a build error (similar to one above, about not being able to find something for CFResGen). The fix was installing the compact framework (maybe the tasks are defined in another assembly, but I wasn’t sure).

    But I would like to say that it still works great in VS2005 ‘final,’ and thanks for the doc.

  14. Pavel Myshkin says:

    Thank U for this info. It was very useful in solving a problem with compiling a C# project with MySQL .NET 1.0.7 connector on VS2005 for .NET Framework 1.1.

    You are the greatest!

  15. Jay Hamlin says:


    Thank you very much for posting this tip.

    Imagine this, you are at VSLive! 2006, learning all about the wonders of VS2005 and you want to start using it right away. Problem is you have apps to support back home that sit on machines with only 1.1 installed. That’s what is happening to me. It was VERY frustrating. So, I spent the evening working with your ‘hack’, learned some things about the environment, and now can move forward developing new apps for 2.0 and still support older ones.

    Thanks —


  16. Nick says:

    I am using a full install of "Visual Studio 2005", but when i try to build i recieve the following error, in all the forms i have (they are ALL created with VS2003, and the converted by VS2005):

    error: Invalid ResX input.

    error: Specific exception: FileNotFoundException  Message: Invalid ResX input. —> FileNotFoundException: File or assembly name System.Drawing, or one of its dependencies, was not found.

    What can i do to resolve this issue??

  17. Matt Ward says:

    SharpDevelop 2.1, revision 1157, allows VB.NET projects to target the older Microsoft Frameworks and…

  18. jwezel says:

    Is there a new version of this document matching the final release of VS.NET 2005?

  19. Very frequent question from the users of Visual Studio 2005 is &quot;what should I do to&amp;nbsp;build .NET Framework…

  20. I was recently asked if it was possible to utilise Compact Framework 1.1 with VS2005.&amp;nbsp; I recollected…

  21. Chris says:

    Can anyone tell me how to do the same but in Visual Basic?

    if yes, please send me an email at cerb7@wp.pl

  22. Alex says:

    Thank you Jomo, very much!

    This is going to have a major affect to our project.

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  62. JustJack says:

    Good Lord Jomo, clean this crap out…

    The CSharp.Targets file was renamed between earlier Beta releases and Beta 2 of Visual Studio. Look for the file as Microsoft.CSharp.targets in the WindowsMicrosoft.NETFrameworkv2.0.50215 directory. Simply update the filename of the targets file from CSharp.Targets to Microsoft.CSharp.Targets in the .csproj file.

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  64. jrummell says:

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  65. 最远距离 says:


    http://blogs.msdn.com/jomo_fisher/archive/2005/04/22/410903.aspx 由于MSBuild未能直接提供…

  66. Chris Odd says:

    Regarding instruction (3):

    >>Use notepad to edit MyApp.csproj.

    I’ve converted a web application from VS2003 to VS2005.  It no longer has a .csproj file as .csproj files have been obsoleted for these types of applications.

    How do I target this app for .Net Framework 1.1?

  67. Mark Deraeve says:

    I’m havind troubles building my solution to 1.1. All the projects are build in VS2003 and imported later. I have changed the code after. I keep getting this error: Error 3 "resgen.exe" exited with code -1163019603. FilterMonitor

    It doesn’t help me a lot does it?

    Any suggestions?

  68. pribadi dewa says:

    is there another way to build asp.net 1.1 using VS 2005 C# ? there’s no csproj file in Solutions folder

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  70. Brian says:

    And for all those who are still upgrading – this works in VS2005 Team edition for Developers – I’ve just done it using a new project.

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  73. Chris says:

    Thanks for the great work on compiling CSharp targets.  I was able to use this to compile .NET 1.1 projects in VS2008.

    Would you happen to have a version for VB.NET?



  74. Pavel says:

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  75. Dave says:

    I’ve having difficulty using this to compile .NET 1.1 from VS2008. The issue is it can’t find ResGen (I renamed from CFResGen which didn’t work either).

    The "ResGen" task was not found. etc.

    Any ideas?

  76. Gestire un progetto .Net v1.1 in VS2008

  77. Tami says:

    I have a solution that has 4 projects in it.  None of the csproj files have a tag called "Import".  Where do I need to make this change?

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  79. Reghuram says:


    I’m trying to get this to work with VS2008. But I keep getting this problem:

    CSC : fatal error CS0009: Metadata file ‘c:WINDOWSassemblyGAC_MSILSystem.Configuration2.0.0.0__b03f5f7f11d50a3aSystem.configuration.dll’ could not be opened — ‘Version 2.0 is not a compatible version.’

    Does this mean that I have to install .Net Framework 1.1 SDK?

    Thank you very much and best regards,


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    i am using vs 2010 , i have a project has been written at vs 2003 .net 1.1. I want to use MSbee project , there 4 layer, 3 of them class libraries and they build perfectly. One of them Web application and it does not build. İs there any workaround it ? Or is it possible to build web applications ? I want to use vs 2010 target framework 1.1.

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