My struggels with GitHub, Subtrees and Nuget


Source: own resources, Authors: Agnieszka and Michał Komorowscy

Some time ago I decided to publish my projects on GitHub. This decision had very positive repercussion because it mobilized me to do more refactoring and to clean my solutions. Additionally, I switched totally to management of external references via NuGet. Earlier, I had some binaries in a dedicated directory on my computer. It took me some time but it was worth doing it.

I also had to solve the following problem. I have a solution called Common. It is a collection of libraries, utilities, algorithms, helpers etc. that are used in my other projects. Before migration to GitHub, after a build, all Common binaries were copied to the well known location i.e. N:\bin Thanks to that all other projects could reference them from this location. It works. However, if someone wants to download my projects from GitHub, he or she will need to create a mapped drive N manually. I din't like it.

The next step was to switch from absolute references to binaries to relative references to projects. For example let's consider a library MK.Utilities and a project LanguageTrainer that uses it. Initially LanguageTrainer was referencing:


After migration this reference was changed to:


Much more better, isn't it? Still, it is not perfect. This relative path will work only if the folder with Common and LanguageTrainer solutions will be in the same place on the disk. Besides, in order to compile LanguageTrainer solution Common solution must be built first. What's more Common and LanguageTrainer are two separate repositories which have to be downloaded individually. My goal was to be able to download any repository/solution and then be able to compile it without any further steps.

I started reading about possible solutions and I found information about git submodules and git subtrees. There is so much about them in Internet so I will not repeat others. For example see this post. At the end I decided to use subtrees. Simplifying a subtree is a copy of some repository in the another one. Returning to my earlier example, by using subtrees I got a copy of Common repository/solution in LanguageTrainer repository/solution. Then I could change the reference to MK.Utilities as follows:


Besides, I needed to add MK.Utilities project to LanguageTrainer.sln solution so that all projects could be build at the same time. Finally, my LanguageTrainer repository/solution looks in the following way. On left side you can see GitHub and on the right side Visual Studio:

If needed I can refresh a copy of Common repository/solution inside LanguageTrainer at any time. Why I used subtrees? Well, they work for me and are extreamly easy to create via Source Tree ;) By the way, I like git but I hate all this complex commands. Source Tree solves this problem and allows me to use git via friendly GUI. I strongly recommend it.

At the end I had to solve one more problem with Nuget. Let's return again to my example and let's assume that LanguageTrainer solution is located here:


In that case, by default, Nuget packages will be located here:


However, we also have a subtree:


And projects from a subtree expects that their packages will be here:


Of course they won't be there so Common projects will not compile. To overcome this problem I had to manually update csproj files and replace ..\packages with $(Solutiondir)packages. For example:


Was changed as follows:


I hope that this post will help you in your struggles with GitHub, Subtrees and Nuget.


Joseph said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joseph said...

If you switch to NuGet v3 you don't even have to worry about a packages folder. You can use this with any C# project type. See Oren Novotny's excellent https://oren.codes/2016/02/08/project-json-all-the-things

Michał Komorowski said...

Thanks for the information. I wasn't aware that project.json can be used with any type of projects. I will try.

Post a Comment