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Jamie Thomson

This is the blog of Jamie Thomson, a freelance data mangler in London

Querying Visual Studio project files using T-SQL and Powershell

Earlier today I had a need to get some information out of a Visual Studio project file and in this blog post I’m going to share a couple of ways of going about that because I’m pretty sure I won’t be the only person that ever wants to do this. The specific problem I was trying to solve was finding out how many objects in my database project (i.e. in my .dbproj file) had any warnings suppressed but the techniques discussed below will work pretty well for any Visual Studio project file because every such file is simply an XML document, hence it can be queried by anything that can query XML documents.

Ever heard the phrase “when all you’ve got is hammer everything looks like a nail”? Well that’s me with querying stuff – if I can write SQL then I’m writing SQL. Here’s a little noddy database project I put together for demo purposes:


Two views and a stored procedure, nothing fancy. I suppressed warnings for [View1] & [Procedure1] and hence the pertinent part my project file looks like this:

    <Build Include="Schema Objects\Schemas\dbo\Views\View1.view.sql">
    <Build Include="Schema Objects\Schemas\dbo\Views\View2.view.sql">
    <Build Include="Schema Objects\Schemas\dbo\Programmability\Stored Procedures\Procedure1.proc.sql">

Note the <SuppressWarnings> elements – those are the bits of information that I am after.

With a lot of help from folks on the SQL Server XML forum  I came up with the following query that nailed what I was after. It reads the contents of the .dbproj file into a variable of type XML and then shreds it using T-SQL’s XML data type methods:

SELECT @xml = CAST(pkgblob.BulkColumn AS XML)
FROM   OPENROWSET(BULK 'C:\temp\QueryingProjectFileDemo\QueryingProjectFileDemo.dbproj' -- <-Change this path!
,single_blob) AS pkgblob
FROM   (
SELECT  build.query('.') AS [_node]
,       build.value('ns:SuppressWarnings[1]','nvarchar(100)') AS [SuppressedWarnings]
,       build.value('@Include','nvarchar(1000)') AS [ObjectPath]
FROM    @xml.nodes('//ns:Build[ns:SuppressWarnings]') AS R(build)

And here’s the output:


And that’s it – an easy way of discovering which warnings have been suppressed and for which objects in your database projects. I won’t bother going over the code as it is fairly self-explanatory – peruse it at your leisure.

Once I had the SQL above I figured I’d share it around a little in case it was ever useful to anyone else; hence I’m writing this blog post and I also posted it on the Visual Studio Database Development Tools forum at FYI: Discover which objects have had warnings suppressed. Luckily Kevin Goode saw the thread and he posted a different solution to the same problem, one that uses Powershell. The advantage of Kevin’s Powershell approach is that it is easy to analyse many .dbproj files at the same time. Below is Kevin’s code which I have tweaked ever so slightly so that it produces the same results as my SQL script (I just want any object that had had a warning suppressed whereas Kevin was querying specifically for warning 4151):

cd 'C:\Temp\QueryingProjectFileDemo\'
$projects = ls -r -i *.dbproj
Foreach($project in $projects)
  $xml = new-object System.Xml.XmlDocument
  $xml.set_PreserveWhiteSpace( $true )

  #$xpath = @{Start="/e:Project/e:ItemGroup/e:Build[e:SuppressWarnings=4151]/@Include"}
  #$xpath = @{Start="/e:Project/e:ItemGroup/e:Build[contains(e:SuppressWarnings,'4151')]/@Include"}
  $xpath = @{Start="/e:Project/e:ItemGroup/e:Build[e:SuppressWarnings]/@Include"}
  $ns = @{ e = "" }

  $xml | Select-Xml -XPath $xpath.Start  -Namespace $ns |Select -Expand Node | Select -expand Value

and here’s the output:


Nice reusable Powershell and SQL scripts – not bad for an evening’s work. Thank you to Kevin for allowing me to share his code.

Don’t forget that these techniques can easily be adapted to query any Visual Studio project file, they’re only XML documents after all! Doubtless many people out there already have code for doing this but nonetheless here is another offering to the great script library in the sky. Have fun!


This blog post was mentioned on This Week on Channel 9. Fast forward to 10m49s.

Published Monday, January 17, 2011 10:11 PM by jamiet

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richbrownesq said:

Kevin's solution also has the benefits of not requiring the openrowset feature to be enabled on your instance of sql server. Maybe not an issue in a dev/sandbox scenario but worth mentioning.

January 17, 2011 4:54 PM

rani said:

nice solution it is very usefull

January 19, 2011 12:20 AM

SSIS Junkie said:

Over the past eighteen months I have worked on four separate projects for customers that wanted to make

January 2, 2012 11:07 AM

Interesting .NET Links - January 18 , 2011 | TechBlog said:

April 15, 2014 2:41 PM

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