Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Compiling .NET 1.1 using NAnt

Yesterday I met a cashier who needed to use a calculator when I gave him $20.35 for a $10.34 item. Experiences like this are terrifying, and rather than let myself become reliant on tools with rich user interfaces, I like to give my brain and fingers a workout every now and then and use some command line tools. Today, I needed to make some changes to a legacy .NET 1.1 application. Rather than going through the hassle of installing Visual Studio 2003, I figured I could get by with our great NAnt scripts and Notepad++ for a short while. Apart from having to download and install the .NET 1.1 SDK, I ran into a few snags:

Running NAnt in 1.1

Our NAnt scripts need to run under the .NET 1.1 framework and require a specific version of NAnt. Fortunately, when we put the project together, we assumed that not everyone would have NAnt installed on their machines, so we created a "tools" folder in our solution and included the appropriate version of NAnt. To simplify calling the local NAnt version, we created a really simple batch file:

tools\nant\bin\nant.exe -targetframework:net-1.1 %*

Missing or Wrong References

The nant "solution" task gave me some trouble. Dependencies that were wired into the csproj file with a valid HintPath were not being found. In particular, I had problems with my version of NUnit. It was referencing a .NET 2.0 version somewhere else on the machine. While I could have treated the symptom by copying the command line out of the log file, I decided to go to the source using Reflector. The NAnt "solution" task uses the registry to identify well known assembly locations from the following locations:


I found the culprit here:


Deleting this registry key did the trick, now it compiles fine.

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