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NuGetSolver: Easier Dependency Conflicts Resolution in Visual Studio

This week, Microsoft announced a new experimental tool called NuGetSolver. This Visual Studio extension was created in a collaborative effort with Microsoft Research. The goal behind the tool is to simplify resolving NuGet dependency conflicts in Visual Studio projects. Extension efficiently addresses common NuGet errors and warnings, helping developers to be more productive inside Visual Studio IDE.

As reported, the tool efficiently tackles the most common NuGet errors and warnings such as dependency constraints between packages (NU1107), cases when the dependency package doesn't contain any assets compatible with the project (NU1202), detected package downgrades (NU1605), and the warning when the assets may not be 100% compatible (NU1701).

To begin utilising NuGetSolver, developers can download the extension from the Visual Studio Marketplace, known as NuGetSolver. This experimental extension offers a solution to NuGet dependency conflicts by considering all dependencies and providing intelligent and automated suggestions.

The tool can be accessed through the Solution Explorer by right-clicking and selecting the Resolve Dependency Conflicts option. As reported, a quick calculation will happen to determine possible suggestions; the tool displays the differences between the current and suggested states. Users can also toggle Show only changes to view the complete dependency list.

(Usage of NuGetSolver in Visual Studio, Source: Microsoft DevBlogs)

By default, the tool suggests stable versions, with the option to include prerelease versions if needed. The original blog post reveals that if the recommended suggestion is acceptable to developers, the Apply fix option should be selected and the solution rebuild is the next step to verify the resolution. Also, there is a note from the author:

It is recommended to enable source control in your repository, so you can easily revert any changes made by NuGetSolver if necessary.

Furthermore, there is a statement that if a solution currently lacks dependency conflicts, developers can still run the tool to upgrade dependencies efficiently, minimizing changes. This proves to be a faster and more reliable alternative to upgrading packages one by one using the NuGet Package Manager, especially when faced with other dependency constraints.

The tool requires Visual Studio 2022 and an internet connection for proper functionality. It retrieves available package versions from and downloads the cache database file from the provided cache hosting service.

However, there are some usage recommendations and known constraints to consider. Currently, only the feed is supported, and multi-feed and local package feeds are not supported. While multi-targeting is not fully supported yet, the tool may generate a fix for some target frameworks. Developers should know that the Apply Fix feature may not fully support updating versions if custom MSBuild logic is used for version settings.

It is crucial to note that NuGetSolver may not consider all available preview versions during suggestion calculations when the Include prerelease option is toggled. For projects using packages.config or legacy-sdk style, the tool can generate suggestions but cannot apply the fix directly, requiring a manual fix by developers.

Although NuGetSolver may resolve compile-time dependency conflicts, runtime errors could still occur. Additionally, the tool does not verify if suggested versions have known vulnerabilities, so developers are advised to use the auditing functionality in NuGet to address this concern.

Lastly, NuGetSolver acts as a valuable tool for developers seeking to simplify NuGet dependency management in Visual Studio. By automating conflict resolution and offering a visual representation of the dependency graph, as stated NuGetSolver enhances efficiency, allowing developers to concentrate on creating outstanding applications.

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