VS2017 and NuGet for C++/CLI

At the time of writing it still isn’t possible to use the NuGet package manager for C++/CLI projects. My workaround is to:

  1. Add a new C# class library project to the solution.
  2. Add any NuGet packages to this new project.
  3. Configure the C# project so it always builds in Release configuration.
  4. Use the Build Dependencies dialog to ensure that the new C# project is built before the C++/CLI project.
  5. Add to the C++/CLI project a reference to the NuGet packages by using the output folder of the C# project.


Create a new solution with a C++/CLI class library…

Add a C# class library (.Net Framework), delete Class1.cs, then go to the solution’s NuGet package manager:

2018-09-05 12_19_13-.png

Install the Newtonsoft.Json package for the C# project:2018-09-05 12_29_01-Solution3 - Microsoft Visual Studio.png

Change the C# build configuration so that the Release configuration builds for both Debug and Release:2018-09-05 12_31_24-Configuration Manager.png

Then delete the unused Debug configuration:2018-09-05 12_31_42-Configuration Manager.png

2018-09-05 12_32_14-Configuration Manager.png

Make C++/CLI project dependent on the C# project:2018-09-05 12_34_09-Solution3 - Microsoft Visual Studio.png

(Note: I use the above for this dependency rather than adding a reference to the project to avoid copying the unused C# project to the C++/CLI’s output folders.)

Build the solution.

Add a reference to the Newtonsoft library by using the Browse option in the Add References dialog and locating the C# project’s bin/Release folder:

2018-09-05 12_38_57-Select the files to reference....png

Build the solution again. The Newtonsoft library will now be copied to the C++/CLI build folder:

2018-09-05 12_40_59-Debug.png

First test: add some code to the C++/CLI class to demonstrate basic JSON serialisation:

#pragma once

using namespace System;

namespace CppCliDemo {

	using namespace Newtonsoft::Json;

	public ref class Class1

		String^ test = "I am the walrus";


		property String^ Test
			String^ get() { return this->test; }
			void set(String^ value) { this->test = value; }

		String^ SerialiseToJson()
			auto json = JsonConvert::SerializeObject(this, Formatting::Indented);
			return json;

Then add a simple C# console app, reference just the C++/CLI project, and test the class:2018-09-05 12_50_22-Reference Manager - CSharpConsoleTest.png

static void Main(string[] args)
var test = new CppCliDemo.Class1();
var json = test.SerialiseToJson();


The output – nicely formatted JSON 🙂

2018-09-05 12_51_48-C__Users_Jon_Source_Repos_Solution3_CSharpConsoleTest_bin_Debug_CSharpConsoleTes.png

Second test, make sure a clean rebuild works as expected:

  1. Close the solution
  2. Manually delete all binaries and downloaded packages
  3. Re-open solution and build
  4. Verify that the build order is:
    1. CSharpNuGetHelper
    2. CppCliDemo
    3. CSharpConsoleTest (my console test demo app)
  5. Run the console app and verify the serialisation works as before