x64 Development and Visual Studio Assembly References

This is a Random Bits post – not on my normal BI related topics, but something I found useful and wanted to record somewhere in case it could help someone else.

I recently upgraded to a new laptop running Vista 64-bit. It’s been a bit of an adventure getting everything working, particularly as I work with several people who are still on XP 32-bit, so I have to make sure I can continue to work with others on shared projects. 

One little piece of information I found was related to Visual Studio. I am working on project (BIDSHelper) that requires file references to a number of assemblies that are not in the global assembly cache (GAC). When you add these references in Visual Studio, a relative path from the IDE is added to the project file that points to the assembly. It’s in the <HintPath> tag in the project file.

Unfortunately, these assemblies are not in the same location in a 64-bit install as they are in a 32-bit install. If I just changed the file reference, it would break everyone else’s project, but I couldn’t move forward without resetting them. However, I found a reference online to using reference paths (found in the Project Properties) to refer to assemblies. This allows you to specify a folder (or folders) that will be searched for assemblies or other items used by the project. In my case, simply adding the folder that the assemblies were in to the Reference Paths allowed me to continue developing without impacting my teammates.

This is probably well known to people who spend more time doing .NET development, but it was definitely helpful for me.

Reference Paths In Books Online

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