VS2019 C# project always builds

Some of my projects always build, whereas others just say they’re already up-to-date.

I’ve finally got something that’s actually helping me isolate the problems, and it’s related to bringing in packages via NuGet that bring in lots of other dependencies.

The first step is to change the MSBuild output from Minimal to Diagnostics:

Run the build once just in case anything really has changed.

Build the project and look at the top of the diagnostics in the output window. As an example, I have this

1>Project 'AmberOptix.AOX3.Scripting' is not up to date. CopyLocal reference 'C:\dev\Projects\Amber\AOX3\AmberOptix.AOX3.Scripting\bin\Debug\System.Diagnostics.StackTrace.dll' is missing from output location.

Next I remove this assembly (System.Diagnostics.StackTrace.dll) from my packages.config file and the references. Then I build again and repeat the process until it eventually says that everything is up-to-date.

For some of the ‘missing’ assemblies I can guess that several others may also not be required. For example I deleted 3 System.Net.XXX packages and references when System.Net.Http was reported as missing.

As a guideline I had to remove over 20 packages and references from my scripting library to get this working.

An alternative to this manual approach of deleting one at a time is to delete all packages and references, then go through a cycle of adding back NuGet packages and normal assembly references as required.

I’m still sure there must be a better and safer way to do this! I think JetBrains’ ReSharper has tools but haven’t had a chance to trial yet.