Scott Hanselman

Visual Studio MSI Problems: Unable to build project output group 'Content Files from SOMEWEB (Active)'

June 22, 2004 Comment on this post [7] Posted in ASP.NET
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Often when building MSI Windows Installers from ASP.NET Web Projects within Visual Studio.NET you'll get this error:

Unable to build project output group 'Content Files from SOMEWEB (Active)'

And you'll have no idea why this happened, no descriptive error message, nada.

Turns out that this is the MSI builder's way of telling you that it can't physically find a Content File that is referenced in the Project (CSPROJ, or VBPROJ). 

The trick is turn on 'Show All Files' and open every folder until you find one with the Yellow Yield Icon.  This subtle tip is telling you that this file doesn't exist on disk, but it does exist in the Project.  Right-Click on it and Exclude From Project. 

When the MSI Installer builder can't find a file marked as Content, it borks.



About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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June 23, 2004 0:37
June 23, 2004 1:38
Ah, I always just ignore those errors, but it sure is nice to know what they're from!
June 24, 2004 22:27
Greg, this like has a more appropriate definition:
October 06, 2005 0:50
Thanks - just had this exact problem and was going crazy trying to figure out why my project wasn't building right anymore!
October 17, 2005 4:16
Ah... thanks for that.
It would be really nice if it would actually complain about the file that was missing!
November 02, 2005 1:23
Thank you Scott. Once again you have saved my laptop from being thrown out of the window.
January 11, 2006 3:05
And what do you do if, after you've gone through every file in your project - and not a single file has that yellow ! I've gone through ever line of my csproj and vbprob files...nothing out of the ordinary and all my files are present and accounted for.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.