A file with .vcxproj extension is a Microsoft Visual C++ project file that stores the C++ project information. It contains information that is used by the MSBuild project system to compile and build the final output. VCXPROJ of Visual C++ projects is the same as that of CSPROJ for .NET projects. VCXPROJ files do not contain any code but refers to all the classes, targets and properties defined for the project to build the project. These can be opened in plain text editors or preferably in Microsoft Visual Studio IDE.
VCXPROJ File Format
VCXPROJ files are text files that are created in XML file format. These can be opened in any text editor but it is highly recommended to use Microsoft Visual Studio IDE for opening and editing these files. These weren’t designed for manual editing. Mistakes can cause the IDE to crash or behave in unexpected ways.
The contents of a sample VCXPROJ file are as follow.
A typical VCXPROJ file contains a number of elements as can be seen in the example XML above. The VCXPROJ structure by Microsoft explains each file element in detail and can be referred from developer’s perspective.
This is the root node of the VCXPROJ file. MSBuild uses this element to read the build version and default target for compilation.
ProjectConfigurations ItemGroup Element
It contains the project configuration information that can include the build method (Debug or Release), 32 or 64-bit compilation, optimization options, and others. Information in this group is used by IDE to load the project.
The ProjectConfiguration elements in a VCXPROJ file containns information about the build and platform for which the project is loaded. Its name should follow the format $(Configuration)|$(Platform).
Globals PropertyGroup Element
This section contains settings that provide information for project level such as: