Setting Up StyleCop MSBuild Integration

MSBuild integration will cause the tool to run automatically whenever the code is built, and StyleCop violations will show up alongside compiler errors in the build output.

It is possible to set up the build integration so that StyleCop violations will appear as build warnings, or as build errors if so desired.

Installing MSBuild Files

To enable build integration, first be sure to select the MSBuild option when installing the tool, as shown in the image below:


This will cause the StyleCop binaries and supporting MSBuild targets files to be installed under the {Program Files}\MSBuild\StyleCop folder.

Adding the Import Tag

Once the StyleCop MSBuild files are installed, the next step is to import the StyleCop targets file into your C# projects. This is done by adding an Import tag to each C# project file.

For example, to integrate StyleCop to the project SampleProject, open the project file SampleProject.csproj within your favorite text editor. Scroll down to the bottom of the file and add a new tag to import the StyleCop.targets file. This import tag should be added just below the import of Microsoft.CSharp.targets:

<Project DefaultTargets="Build" xmlns="">

   ...Contents Removed...

  <Import Project="$(MSBuildBinPath)\Microsoft.CSharp.targets" />
  <Import Project="$(ProgramFiles)\MSBuild\StyleCop\v4.x\StyleCop.targets" />  


   ...Contents Removed...


Save the modified .csproj file. The next time you build this project either within Visual Studio or on the command line, StyleCop will run automatically against all of the C# source files within the project.

Build Warnings Vs Errors

By default, StyleCop violations will show up as build warnings. To turn StyleCop violations into build errors, the flag StyleCopTreatErrorsAsWarnings must be set to false. This flag can be set as an environment variable on the machine, or within the build environment command window. Setting the flag this way will cause StyleCop violations to appear as build errors automatically for all projects where StyleCop build integration is enabled.

Alternately, this flag can be set within the project file for a particular project. Open the .csproj file for your project again, and find the first PropertyGroup section within the file. Add a new tag to set the StyleCopTreatErrorsAsWarnings flag to false. For example:

<Project DefaultTargets="Build" xmlns="">
    <Configuration Condition=" '$(Configuration)' == '' ">Debug</Configuration>
    <Platform Condition=" '$(Platform)' == '' ">AnyCPU</Platform>

Team Development

The configuration described above will suffice to enable StyleCop build integration on an individual development machine. However, development teams working within a well-defined development environment can set up the build integration in a more global way, so that each developer does not have to manually install StyleCop on his machine.

To do this, copy all of the files from {Program Files}\MSBuild\StyleCop into a custom folder within your build environment, and check all of these files into your source control system. Next, define an environment variable within your development environment which points to the location of the StyleCop targets file. For example:

set StyleCopTargets=%enlistmentroot%\ExternalTools\StyleCop\v4.x\StyleCop.targets

With this configuration in place, it is simply a matter of adding the following import tag to each .csproj file within your development environment:

  <Import Project="$(MSBuildBinPath)\Microsoft.CSharp.targets" />
  <Import Project="$(StyleCopTargets)" />

StyleCop will automatically run each time this project is built, no matter who is building the project. There is no need for each developer to install StyleCop manually, since the StyleCop binaries are checked directly into your source control system and are centrally integrated into your build environment.

Settings files are looked for in the same folder as the .cs file being analysed. If it can't find one there it looks in the parent folder, then its parent and so on up to the root of the drive.

(Originally from the Microsoft StyleCop blog at

Last edited Jun 30, 2011 at 4:53 PM by andyr, version 14