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MSBuild project file tools

An extension for VS Code that provides intellisense for MSBuild project files, including auto-complete for <PackageReference> elements.

The extension in action

The language service used by this extension can be found here: tintoy/msbuild-project-tools-server

Note: You will need the .NET Core runtime v5.0.2 (or SDK v5.0.102) or newer installed to use the language service (but your projects can target any version you have installed).


  • Completions for PackageReference and DotNetCliToolReference.
    • Completions for Include and Version attributes of these items (invoke the NuGet: toggle pre-release command to include / exclude pre-release packages / package versions).
    • Completions to create these elements.
  • Completions for common top-level elements (e.g. PropertyGroup, ItemGroup, Target).
  • Completions for import elements.
  • Completions for property elements.
  • Completions for item elements.
  • Completions for common item attributes.
  • Completions for common property Condition attributes.
  • Hover the mouse over imports, targets, items, properties, and conditions to see information about them.
  • Document symbols are supported for imports, targets, items, and properties.
  • Go-to-definition is implemented for both SDK-style and regular project imports.
  • Basic syntax highlighting of MSBuild expressions in attribute values.
    To see this highlighting, change the editor language from XML to MSBuild.
  • Completions for $() property, @() item, and %() item metadata expressions.
    To enable these completions, ensure that the editor language is MSBuild (not XML).
  • Completions for task elements and attributes based on metadata for tasks declared in the project and its imported projects.
    To enable these completions, add the string Tasks to the msbuildProjectTools.language.completionsFromProject setting.
  • Useful snippets for common elements of MSBuild project XML (added by @doggy8088).
    To use these snippets, ensure that the editor language is MSBuild (not XML).

File extensions

By default, the language service is automatically available for files with the following extensions:

  • *.*proj
  • .targets
  • .props
  • .tasks

If you want to use it with additional file types:

  1. Open the desired file.
  2. Change the language mode by pressing Ctrl-Shift-P (or Cmd-Shift-P on Mac) and choosing "Change Language Mode".
    associate language with file extension
  3. Choose "configure file association".
    associate language with file extension
  4. Choose language MSBuild.


You can install this extension from the VS marketplace, Open VSX or simply download the VSIX package for the latest release and install it by choosing "Install from VSIX" from the menu on the top right of the extensions panel.

Building from source



See architectural overview for details (this is a work-in-progress; if you have questions, feel free to create an issue).


  • The VS Code extension API has changed somewhat since this extension was first created, and some features (such as hyperlinks to files in hover tooltips) are only partially functional at present (broken by VS Code API / behaviour changes).
    This is being worked on :-)
  • Limited intellisense is available for dynamic PropertyGroup / ItemGroup declarations (i.e. those appearing inside a Target element); these are only evaluated when the project is built and so very little information about them is available to us when statically evaluating the project (see tintoy/msbuild-project-tools-server#5 for details).
  • Support for task completions is experimental; if you find a problem with it, please create an issue.
  • If you open more than one project at a time (or navigate to imported projects), subsequent projects will be loaded into the same MSBuild project collection as the first project. Once you have closed the last project file, the next project file you open will become the master project. The master project will become selectable in a later release.

Questions / bug reports

If you have questions, feedback, feature requests, or would like to report a bug, please feel free to reach out by creating an issue. When reporting a bug, please try to include as much information as possible about what you were doing at the time, what you expected to happen, and what actually happened.

If you're interested in collaborating that'd be great, too :-)