Set multiple startup projects in Visual Studio 2010 via macro

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In one C++ project I am currently working on (yes, C++ is not dead 😉 , I frequently have to switch between different startup projects in Visual Studio. Also, I sometimes want to start several executables at once. For this, Visual Studio supports setting of multiple startup projects.

However, settings those by hand can be a bit tedious, so I tried to make a visual basic macro for it. Ok, to be honest I did not try to make one – I tried to steal one from the internet.

A bit of googling revealed the following post which gives an approach for a single startup project and a “theoretical” solution for multiple startup projects:
http://matthiaskraaz.blogspot.com/2011/08/visual-studio-setting-multiple-startup.html

Turns out, setting multiple startup projects programmatically is not possible in Visual Studio 2005.

With Visual Studio 2010 however, it is possible. Here is how it works:

——RANT MODE: OFF—–

Public Sub SetMyStartupProjects()  

  'Create an array and fill it with the startup projects you would like to set
  Dim StartupProjectsArray As Object = System.Array.CreateInstance(GetType(Object), 3)
  StartupProjectsArray(0) = "MyProj1.vcxproj"
  StartupProjectsArray(1) = "MyProj2.vcxproj"
  StartupProjectsArray(2) = "MyProj3.vcxproj"

  'Set the startup projects of the current solution
  Dim CurrentSolutionBuild As SolutionBuild = DTE.Solution.SolutionBuild
  CurrentSolutionBuild.StartupProjects = StartupProjectsArray

End sub

The code for creating the array might look a bit clunky, but a collection or any array defined via literals doesn’t work.
The type you use on the right hand side of CurrentSolutionBuild.StartupProjects = really has to be of the type System.Array and the things inside the array really need to have the type Object. The rest is straightforward.

As a bonus, here is a little helper method that takes a usual VB collection:

Private Function SetStartupProjects(ByVal StartupProjects As Collection)
  Dim StartupProjectsArray As Object = System.Array.CreateInstance(GetType(Object), StartupProjects.Count)
  Dim i As Integer
  For i = 0 To StartupProjects.Count - 1
    StartupProjectsArray(i) = StartupProjects(i + 1)
  Next

  Dim CurrentSolutionBuild As SolutionBuild = DTE.Solution.SolutionBuild
  CurrentSolutionBuild.StartupProjects = StartupProjectsArray
End Function

You can call it like this:

Public Sub SetMyStartupProjects()
  'Create a collection that you would like to set
  Dim StartupProjects As New Collection
  StartupProjects.Add("MyProj1.vcxproj")
  StartupProjects.Add("MyProj2.vcxproj")
  StartupProjects.Add("MyProj3.vcxproj")

  'Set the startup projects of the current solution
  SetStartupProjects(StartupProjects)
End sub

I wonder why Microsoft doesn’t allow collections or straightforward String-arrays in the first place. Well, whatever, if you can encapsulate the ugly stuff, it is not ugly anymore.

Happy coding!


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