How do I compile a Visual Studio project from the command-line?

Python Programming

Question or problem about Python programming:

I’m scripting the checkout, build, distribution, test, and commit cycle for a large C++ solution that is using Monotone, CMake, Visual Studio Express 2008, and custom tests.

All of the other parts seem pretty straight-forward, but I don’t see how to compile the Visual Studio solution without getting the GUI.

The script is written in Python, but an answer that would allow me to just make a call to: os.system would do.

How to solve the problem:

Solution 1:

I know of two ways to do it.

Method 1
The first method (which I prefer) is to use msbuild:

msbuild project.sln /Flags...

Method 2
You can also run:

vcexpress project.sln /build /Flags...

The vcexpress option returns immediately and does not print any output. I suppose that might be what you want for a script.

Note that DevEnv is not distributed with Visual Studio Express 2008 (I spent a lot of time trying to figure that out when I first had a similar issue).

So, the end result might be:

os.system("msbuild project.sln /p:Configuration=Debug")

You’ll also want to make sure your environment variables are correct, as msbuild and vcexpress are not by default on the system path. Either start the Visual Studio build environment and run your script from there, or modify the paths in Python (with os.putenv).

Solution 2:

MSBuild usually works, but I’ve run into difficulties before. You may have better luck with

devenv YourSolution.sln /Build 

Solution 3:

To be honest I have to add my 2 cents.

You can do it with msbuild.exe. There are many version of the msbuild.exe.


Use version you need. Basically you have to use the last one.


So how to do it.

  1. Run the COMMAND window

  2. Input the path to msbuild.exe


  1. Input the path to the project solution like

“C:\Users\Clark.Kent\Documents\visual studio

  1. Add any flags you need after the solution path.

  2. Press ENTER

Note you can get help about all possible flags like

C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework64\v4.0.30319\msbuild.exe /help

Solution 4:

Using msbuild as pointed out by others worked for me but I needed to do a bit more than just that. First of all, msbuild needs to have access to the compiler. This can be done by running:

"C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 12.0\VC\vcvarsall.bat" 

Then msbuild was not in my $PATH so I had to run it via its explicit path:

"C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework64\v4.0.30319\MSBuild.exe" myproj.sln 

Lastly, my project was making use of some variables like $(VisualStudioDir). It seems those do not get set by msbuild so I had to set them manually via the /property option:

"C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework64\v4.0.30319\MSBuild.exe" /property:VisualStudioDir="C:\Users\Administrator\Documents\Visual Studio 2013" myproj.sln 

That line then finally allowed me to compile my project.

Bonus: it seems that the command line tools do not require a registration after 30 days of using them like the “free” GUI-based Visual Studio Community edition does. With the Microsoft registration requirement in place, that version is hardly free. Free-as-in-facebook if anything…

Solution 5:

MSBuild is your friend.

msbuild "C:\path to solution\project.sln" 

Hope this helps!