Dependency Hell – Or Compilation-time DLL Hell

For the last couple of months I’ve been working on a project on which the entire Visual Studio solution has 65 projects.

Luckily I’ve been able to work with a smaller solution with only a subset of the projects: The ones that I was working directly with and the ones that I needed for a reason or another.

Unfortunately a couple of weeks ago, the time to start integrating my projects to the main solution arrived and since then I and other team members have been having troubles setting up references between projects.

I ended up detecting that the problems where caused by the references being set by file when for the sake of easy compilation they should been referenced by project.

I then reviewed all the projects setting their reference types to project references and the number of issues fell dramatically.

But occasionally a team member was getting compilation errors during to version number conflicts.

Imagine that project A depends on projects B and C and that B and C depend on different versions of D.

When you try to build the entire solution, although references where set to projects instead of files, Visual Studio 2003 couldn’t compile project A stating that there where conflicting versions of D in the bin folder.

Well, to get the story short, after trying to get rid of the error I searched around and ended up finding an article the explained how to resolve the issue: Error: the dependency ‘file’ in project ‘project’ cannot be copied to the run directory because it would conflict with dependency ‘file’  


Published by

Alfred Myers

I have been interested in computers since I got my hands on a magazine about digital electronics back in 1983 and programming them has been paying the bills since 1991. Having focused on Microsoft-centric technology stacks for the best part of two decades, in recent years I’ve been educating myself on open source technologies such as Linux, networking and the open web platform.