Various Build Actions in Visual Studio

Hello everyone, In this post we are going to learn about various Build Actions of Visual Studio. The Build Action property indicates what Visual Studio does with a file when a build is executed. 

Actually you can change build action of each and every file in any visual studio project. Each build action has its own functionality as described below:

  • None: The file is not included in the project output group and is not compiled in the build process. An example is a text file that contains documentation, such as a Readme file.
  • Compile: The file is compiled into the build output. This setting is used for code files.
  • Content: Allows you to retrieve a file (in same dir as assembly) as a stream via Application.GetContentStream( uri ). For this method to work, it needs a AssemblyAssociatedContentFile custom attribute which VS graciously adds when you mark a file as “Content”
  • Embedded resource: embeds the file in an exclusive assembly manifest resource.
  • Resource (wpf only): embeds the file in a shared (by all files in the assembly with similar setting) assembly manifest resource named AppName.g.resources.
  • Page (wpf only): Used to compile a xaml file into baml. The baml is then embedded with the same technique as Resource (i.e. available as `AppName.g.resources)
  • ApplicationDefinition (wpf only): Mark the XAML/class file that defines your application. You specify the code-behind with the x:Class=”Namespace.ClassName” and set the startup form/page with StartupUri=”Window1.xaml”
  • SplashScreen (wpf only): An image that is marked as SplashScreen is shown automatically when an WPF application loads, and then fades
  • DesignData: Compiles xaml viewmodels so that usercontrols can be previewed with sample data in visual studio (uses mock types)
  • DesignDataWithDesignTimeCreatableTypes: Compiles xaml viewmodels so that usercontrols can be previewed with sample data in visual studio (uses actual types)
  • EntityDeploy: (Entity Framework): used to deploy the Entity Framework artifacts
  • CodeAnalysisDictionary: A xml file containing custom word dictionary for spelling rules


Common Questions / Issues associated with understanding Build Action:

  1. My class under App_Code / App_Data is not accessible in Visual Studio .NET
  2. Cannot reference App_Code in .NET


The above questions mostly asked with the ASP.NET development, The answer is simple change the Build Action of the files under App_Data from Content to Compile.

If you have trouble to find build action, kindly follow the steps below.
  1. Select the file under App_Code / App_Data
  2. Go to Properties window
  3. Change Build Action to Compile
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