If you been given the unenviable task of migrating your .NET Core project from ‘project.json’ to MSBuild (csproj), you are likely to find your muscle memory disrupted and the documentation lacking. Automated upgrades in Visual Studio and .NET Core CLI may auto-generate a csproj file for you, but they won’t tell you how to do things you already know how to do in project.json. Here is the most exhaustive list I can create of all the project.json knobs as they exist in Microsoft.NET.Sdk.

Update: this has been made part of official Microsoft documentation. project.json and csproj comparison

See also: Part 2 - Caveats of project.json to MSBuild conversion

See also: Old csproj to new csproj: Visual Studio 2017 upgrade guide

Missing something? Post your question in comment section below and I will update this post.

dotnet migrate

March update:

.NET Core CLI 1.0.0 Downloads. It shipped!

February update:

.NET Core CLI RC4 Downloads

(As of February 2017) the latest .NET Core CLI is the RC4 release. This is required to use the MSBuild-based .NET Core SDK. The RC4 version of dotnet includes a new command, dotnet migrate. This command will attempt to automatically convert all project.json projects to MSBuild.

For help on usage, execute dotnet migrate --help.

Tip: if you get an error, “No executable found matching command “dotnet-migrate””, check that:

  1. If you have a global.json file in the current or parent directires, ensure it does not set the “sdk” version set to an older version.
  2. The RC4 version is installed. Run dotnet --info to see which version you are using.

Visual Studio 2017 RC

March update:

Visual Studio 2017 Downloads. It shipped, too!

Original post

Visual Studio 2017 RC Downloads

The same auto-upgrade feature of dotnet-migrate is available in Visual Studio 2017. When attempting to open a Visual Studio solution that has “xproj” projects in it, VS will convert from project.json to the new MSBuild format. (xproj was a VS wrapper for project.json).

csproj

The new format, *.csproj, is an XML based format. Below are examples of how to configure a .NET Core, .NET Standard, or .NET Framework project using the new Microsoft.NET.Sdk.

For all examples below, assume the XML is inside this root node:

<Project Sdk="Microsoft.NET.Sdk" ToolsVersion="15.0">
</Project>

Common top-level properties

name

{
  "name": "MyProjectName"
}

Not supported. In csproj, this is determined by the filename, e.g. MyProjectName.csproj.

version

{
  "version": "1.0.0-alpha-*"
}
<PropertyGroup>
  <VersionPrefix>1.0.0</VersionPrefix>
  <VersionSuffix>alpha</VersionSuffix>
</PropertyGroup>

You can also use Version, but this may override version settings during packaging.

<PropertyGroup>
  <Version>1.0.0-alpha</Version>
</PropertyGroup>

Other common root-level options

{
  "authors": [ "Anne", "Bob" ],
  "company": "Contoso",
  "language": "en-US",
  "title": "My library",
  "description": "This is my library.\r\nAnd it's really great!",
  "copyright": "Nugetizer 3000",
  "userSecretsId": "xyz123"
}
<PropertyGroup>
  <Authors>Anne;Bob<Authors>
  <Company>Contoso<Company>
  <NeutralLanguage>en-US</NeutralLanguage>
  <AssemblyTitle>My library</AssemblyTitle>
  <Description>This is my library.
And it's really great!</Description>
  <Copyright>Nugetizer 3000</Copyright>
  <UserSecretsId>xyz123</UserSecretsId>
</PropertyGroup>

frameworks

One frameworks

{
  "frameworks": {
    "netcoreapp1.0": {}
  }
}
<PropertyGroup>
  <TargetFramework>netcoreapp1.0</TargetFramework>
</PropertyGroup>

Multiple frameworks

{
  "frameworks": {
    "netcoreapp1.0": {},
    "net451": {}
  }
}
<PropertyGroup>
  <TargetFrameworks>netcoreapp1.0;net451</TargetFrameworks>
</PropertyGroup>

dependencies

NB: If the dependency is a project, not a package the format is different. See the section below on dependency types

Top-level

{
  "dependencies": {
    "Microsoft.AspNetCore": "1.1.0"
  }
}
<ItemGroup>
  <PackageReference Include="Microsoft.AspNetCore" Version="1.1.0" />
</ItemGroup>

Per-framework

{
  "framework": {
    "net451": {
      "dependencies": {
        "System.Collections.Immutable": "1.3.1"
      }
    },
    "netstandard1.5": {
      "dependencies": {
        "Newtonsoft.Json": "9.0.1"
      }
    }
  }
}
<ItemGroup Condition="'$(TargetFramework)'=='net451'">
  <PackageReference Include="System.Collections.Immutable" Version="1.3.1" />
</ItemGroup>

<ItemGroup Condition="'$(TargetFramework)'=='netstandard1.5'">
  <PackageReference Include="Newtonsoft.Json" Version="9.0.1" />
</ItemGroup>

imports

{
  "dependencies": {
    "YamlDotNet": "4.0.1-pre309"
  },
  "frameworks": {
    "netcoreapp1.0": {
      "imports": [
        "dnxcore50",
        "dotnet"
      ]
    }
  }
}
<PropertyGroup>
  <PackageTargetFallback>dnxcore50;dotnet</PackageTargetFallback>
</PropertyGroup>
<ItemGroup>
  <PackageReference Include="YamlDotNet" Version="4.0.1-pre309" />
</ItemGroup>

dependency type

type: project

{
  "dependencies": {
    "MyOtherProject": "1.0.0-*",
    "AnotherProject": {
      "type": "project"
    }
  }
}
<ItemGroup>
  <ProjectReference Include="..\MyOtherProject\MyOtherProject.csproj" />
  <ProjectReference Include="..\AnotherProject\AnotherProject.csproj" />
</ItemGroup>

NB: this will break the way that dotnet pack --version-suffix $suffix determines the dependency version of a project reference. See https://github.com/NuGet/Home/issues/4337

type: build

{
  "dependencies": {
    "Microsoft.EntityFrameworkCore.Design": {
      "version": "1.1.0",
      "type": "build"
    }
  }
}
<ItemGroup>
  <PackageReference Include="Microsoft.EntityFrameworkCore.Design" Version="1.1.0" PrivateAssets="All" />
</ItemGroup>

type: platform

{
  "dependencies": {
    "Microsoft.NETCore.App": {
      "version": "1.1.0",
      "type": "platform"
    }
  }
}

There is no equivalent in csproj. Microsoft.NET.Sdk automagically knows about Microsoft.NETCore.App.

runtimes

{
  "runtimes": {
    "win7-x64": {},
    "osx.10.11-x64": {},
    "ubuntu.16.04-x64": {}
  }
}
<PropertyGroup>
  <RuntimeIdentifiers>win7-x64;osx.10-11-x64;ubuntu.16.04-x64</RuntimeIdentifiers>
</PropertyGroup>

Standalone apps (self-contained deployment)

In project.json, defining a ‘runtimes’ section means the app was standalone during build and publish. In MSBuild, all projects are ‘portable’ during build, but can be published as standalone.

dotnet publish --framework netcoreapp1.0 --runtime osx.10.11-x64

tools

{
  "tools": {
    "Microsoft.EntityFrameworkCore.Tools.DotNet": "1.0.0-*"
  }
}
<ItemGroup>
  <DotNetCliToolReference Include="Microsoft.EntityFrameworkCore.Tools.DotNet" Version="1.0.0" />
</ItemGroup>

NB: “imports” on tools are no longer supported in csproj. Tools that need imports will not work with the new Microsoft.NET.Sdk.

buildOptions

See also Files.

emitEntryPoint

{
  "buildOptions": {
    "emitEntryPoint": true
  }
}
<PropertyGroup>
  <OutputType>Exe</OutputType>
</PropertyGroup>
{
  "buildOptions": {
    "emitEntryPoint": false
  }
}
<PropertyGroup>
  <OutputType>Library</OutputType>
  <!-- or, omit altogether. It defaults to 'Library' -->
</PropertyGroup>

keyFile

This one gets special mention because it expands to three properties in MSBuild.

{
  "buildOptions": {
    "keyFile": "MyKey.snk"
  }
}
<PropertyGroup>
  <AssemblyOriginatorKeyFile>MyKey.snk</AssemblyOriginatorKeyFile>
  <SignAssembly>true</SignAssembly>
  <PublicSign Condition="'$(OS)' != 'Windows_NT'">true</PublicSign>
</PropertyGroup>

Other common build options

{
  "buildOptions": {
    "warningsAsErrors": true,
    "nowarn": ["CS0168", "CS0219"],
    "xmlDoc": true,
    "preserveCompilationContext": true,
    "outputName": "Different.AssemblyName",
    "debugType": "portable",
    "allowUnsafe": true,
    "define": ["TEST", "OTHERCONDITION"]
  }
}
<PropertyGroup>
  <TreatWarningsAsErrors>true</TreatWarningsAsErrors>
  <NoWarn>$(NoWarn);CS0168;CS0219</NoWarn>
  <GenerateDocumentationFile>true</GenerateDocumentationFile>
  <PreserveCompliationContext>true</PreserveCompliationContext>
  <AssemblyName>Different.AssemblyName</AssemblyName>
  <DebugType>portable</DebugType>
  <AllowUnsafeBlocks>true</AllowUnsafeBlocks>
  <DefineConstants>$(DefineConstants);TEST;OTHERCONDITION</DefineConstants>
</PropertyGroup>

packOptions

See also Files.

Common pack options

{
  "packOptions": {
    "summary": "A bundle of cats",
    "tags": ["hyperscale", "cats"],
    "owners": [ "Nate", "Jenna" ],
    "releaseNotes": "Version 1.0",
    "iconUrl": "https://icons.com/awesomeness.png",
    "projectUrl": "https://github.com/natemcmaster",
    "licenseUrl": "https://www.apache.org/licenses/LICENSE-2.0",
    "requireLicenseAcceptance": false,
    "repository": {
      "type": "git",
      "url": "https://github.com/natemcmaster/natemcmaster.github.io"
    }
  }
}
<PropertyGroup>
  <Description>A bundle of cats</Description>
  <PackageTags>hyperscale;cats</PackageTags>
  <PackageReleaseNotes>Version 1.0</PackageReleaseNotes>
  <PackageIconUrl>https://icons.com/awesomeness.png</PackageIconUrl>
  <PackageProjectUrl>https://github.com/natemcmaster</PackageProjectUrl>
  <PackageLicenseUrl>https://www.apache.org/licenses/LICENSE-2.0</PackageLicenseUrl>
  <PackageRequireLicenseAcceptance>false</PackageRequireLicenseAcceptance>
  <RepositoryType>git</RepositoryType>
  <RepositoryUrl>https://github.com/natemcmaster/natemcmaster.github.io</RepositoryUrl>
  <!-- regrettably, 'owners' does not translate to MSBuild. -->
</PropertyGroup>

scripts

{
  "scripts": {
    "precompile": "generateCode.cmd",
    "postpublish": [ "obfuscate.cmd", "removeTempFiles.cmd" ]
  }
}

Their equivalent in MSBuild are targets.

<Target Name="MyPreCompileTarget" BeforeTargets="Build">
  <Exec Command="generateCode.cmd" />
</Target>

<Target Name="MyPostCompileTarget" AfterTargets="Publish">
  <Exec Command="obfuscate.cmd" />
  <Exec Command="removeTempFiles.cmd" />
</Target>

runtimeOptions

{
  "runtimeOptions": {
    "configProperties": {
      "System.GC.Server": true,
      "System.GC.Concurrent": true,
      "System.GC.RetainVM": true,
      "System.Threading.ThreadPool.MinThreads": 10,
      "System.Threading.ThreadPool.MaxThreads": 100
    }
  }
}
<PropertyGroup>
  <ServerGarbageCollection>true</ServerGarbageCollection>
  <ConcurrentGarbageCollection>true</ConcurrentGarbageCollection>
  <RetainVMGarbageCollection>true</RetainVMGarbageCollection>
  <!-- I'm not suggesting these settings...just showing usage ;) -->
  <ThreadPoolMinThreads>10</ThreadPoolMinThreads>
  <ThreadPoolMaxThreads>100</ThreadPoolMaxThreads>
</ProeprtyGroup>

Tip: If you are working on a web project, specifying <Project Sdk="Microsoft.NET.Sdk.Web"> will automatically default ServerGarbageCollection to true.

See CoreCLR configuration for information on these settings.

shared

{
  "shared": "shared/**/*.cs"
}

Not supported in csproj. You must instead create a ‘contentFiles’ package. See https://docs.nuget.org for more info.

files

In project.json, build and pack could be extended to compile and embed from different folders. In MSBuild, this is done using items. Here is a common conversion:

{
  "buildOptions": {
    "compile": {
      "copyToOutput": "notes.txt",
      "include": "../Shared/*.cs",
      "exclude": "../Shared/Not/*.cs"
    },
    "embed": {
      "include": "../Shared/*.resx"
    }
  },
  "packOptions": {
    "include": "Views/",
    "mappings": {
      "some/path/in/project.txt": "in/package.txt"
    }
  },
  "publishOptions": {
    "include": [
      "files/",
      "publishnotes.txt"
    ]
  }
}
<ItemGroup>
  <Compile Include="..\Shared\*.cs" Exclude="..\Shared\Not\*.cs" />
  <EmbeddedResource Include="..\Shared\*.resx" />
  <Content Include="Views\**\*" PackagePath="%(Identity)" />
  <None Include="some/path/in/project.txt" Pack="true" PackagePath="in/package.txt" />
  
  <None Include="notes.txt" CopyToOutputDirectory="Always" />
  <!-- CopyToOutputDirectory = { Always, PreserveNewest, Never } -->

  <Content Include="files\**\*" CopyToPublishDirectory="PreserveNewest" />
  <None Include="publishnotes.txt" CopyToPublishDirectory="Always" />
  <!-- CopyToPublishDirectory = { Always, PreserveNewest, Never } -->

  <!-- you can set both copy output and publish directories-->
  <None Include="testasset.txt" CopyToOutputDirectory="Always" CopyToPublishDirectory="Always" />

  <!-- alternatively, use nested XML attributes. They're functionally the same-->
  <None Include="testasset2.txt">
    <CopyToOutputDirectory>Always</CopyToOutputDirectory>
    <CopyToPublishDirectory>Always</CopyToPublishDirectory>
  </None>

</ItemGroup>

NB: many of default globbing patterns are added automatically by Microsoft.NET.Sdk and Microsoft.NET.Sdk.Web.

All MSBuild ItemGroup’s support ‘Include’, ‘Exclude’, ‘Update’, and ‘Remove’.

Package layout inside the nupkg can be modified with PackagePath="path".

Except for “Content”, most item groups require explicitly adding Pack="true" to be included in the package. By default, this will be put in the ‘content’ folder in a package. PackagePath="%(Identity)" is a short way of setting package path to the project-relative file path.

testRunner

xunit

{
  "testRunner": "xunit",
  "dependencies": {
    "dotnet-test-xunit": "<any>"
  }
}
<ItemGroup>
  <PackageReference Include="Microsoft.NET.Test.Sdk" Version="15.0.0" />
  <PackageReference Include="xunit" Version="2.2.0" />
  <PackageReference Include="xunit.runner.visualstudio" Version="2.2.0" />
</ItemGroup>

mstest

{
  "testRunner": "mstest",
  "dependencies": {
    "dotnet-test-mstest": "<any>"
  }
}
<ItemGroup>
  <PackageReference Include="Microsoft.NET.Test.Sdk" Version="15.0.0" />
  <PackageReference Include="MSTest.TestAdapter" Version="1.1.12" />
  <PackageReference Include="MSTest.TestFramework" Version="1.1.11" />
</ItemGroup>

For more details, checkout Part 2 - Caveats of project.json to MSBuild conversion