Jamie's Space

JP

Viewing Dependencies Between Projects in Visual Studio

A while ago there was a question on Stack Overflow about how one could go about mapping the dependencies between Visual Studio projects and solutions (see here: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/471154/how-can-i-map-out-which-visual-studio-solutions-use-which-projects). At the time I had been doing a little bit of work with GraphViz, and suggested that it could be used for the diagramming part. The problem itself seemed kind of interesting, so I decided to implement a solution myself for kicks.

My tool takes a visual studio solution, and produces a PNG image showing the dependencies between the projects in that solution. Pretty basic stuff, but it involves:

  1. Parsing a Visual Studio .sln file.

  2. Parsing the .csproj files referenced in the .sln file. (I don’t think it is C# specific but have not tested it on other project types).

  3. Creating an in memory representation of the solution structure.

  4. Creating a graph in QuickGraph to represent that structure.

  5. Creating a dot file for GraphViz from that graph.

  6. Pass that file to GraphViz and display the output.

This results in something like this:

dv_output

The source code is here.

Updated: I’ve put this project on GitHub, and added Melle’s changes to it. You can find it here.

Feel free to do what you like with it, it only took me about 3-4 hours to get it all working. However if you actually use it as part of another project, please leave a comment.

You’ll need the latest version of GraphViz, which can be downloaded from here: http://graphviz.org/Download_windows.php. I’ve been using the development snapshot, but the stable release should be fine. When my tool first runs, it’ll ask you for the location of graphviz. You need to specify the location of dot.exe, which by default is in %Program Files%\GraphViz 2.21\bin.

Standard disclaimer: I’m not responsible for anything that goes wrong when using this thing. You have the source, you should check it out before running it. If it wipes your system and kills your firstborn child feel free to let me know, but don’t expect me to do anything about it.