Friday, August 4, 2017

Visual Studio Missing "Open Project/Solution"

Background

A very weird thing happened to me the other day...

I have a client that was having trouble running SQL Relay to run on Windows 7 x86. After getting a Windows 7 x86 VM working, I ran into some of the same problems.

Hmm...

Well, my x86 packages are built on Windows 8.1, with the correct switches for Windows 7 compatibility, but who knows, maybe I should just build it on Windows 7 to see if I get better results.

The Problem...

So, I installed Visual Studio 2013 Community, which is what I use on Windows 8.1, and got everything to compile and run. But, to build packages, I needed to use Visual Studio Pro 2010, because it actually supports building deployment packages, unlike the free versions.

No problem, I own a copy of that, so I installed it too.

Post-install, the UI looked weird and the File menu had an "Open File..." option but no Open Project/Solution, or New Project/Solution, or anything like it. Opening the deployment project with Open File just opened the file itself in a text editor.

What the heck?

The web suggested Tools -> Import and Export Settings... -> Reset All Settings.

This did nothing.

The Solution...

I ultimately discovered that installing VS 2013 first had caused the problem.

To uninstall 2013 completely, I used:

vs_community.exe /uninstall /force

...from the install DVD image.

To uninstall VS 2010 and start fresh, I used the "Uninstall a program" link in the Control Panel. I also removed the various things that I'd seen the VS 2010 installer install the first time, like Dotfuscator, Tools for Office Runtime, various SQL Server-related things, and Silverlight. Unfortunately I don't have an exact list of them now, and looking at it now, it's not clear what was installed by VS 2010 and what was installed alongside something else. It's also not clear how important removing them is, so it might not matter. I just did it to be thorough.

After that, I re-installed VS 2010 and the UI looked correct. Installing VS 2013 afterward didn't hose 2010 either.

All of this took hours and hours.

Why...

Why does it matter what order you install them in?

After much digging...

It appears that every time you install a new version of VS, it attempts to emulate your UI settings from any existing version. This works OK when upgrading from an older version of VS because it already existed prior to the invention of the newer version. If you already have a newer version installed though, the old version might get confused trying to make sense of its newfangled configuration. Apparently this happens when 2010 Pro tries to read the settings from 2013 Community.

Ha!

Well, at least I'll know to avoid that in the future.

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