ISQ #7: The case of uncontrollable InitializeControl

I occasionally see tweets that Visual Studio 2012 is the best IDE. They have not seen IntelliJ. I was a fan of Eclipse for a long time and after working on IntelliJ, its hard to go back. Yeah.. you’ve heard that so many times. Visual Studio 2012 doesnt come close to that, because IntelliJ works with you, never against you. There are many things plain frustrating with VS2012 (an yelling all caps menu, lousy gray theme, even lousier icons and text and so on), the rants are all over the net, so I will skip them.

Working on a SharePoint 2010 project with Visual Studio 2012, you might have seen the error “The name InitializeControl does not exist in the current context”.

The problem happens when using sandboxed VisualWebPart, lets say DisplayWebPart.ascx, which should generate a ascx.cs file and a ascx.g.cs file. But a major bug is that the g.cs file is not often generated properly and even if you force regenerate (by manually deleting files from File Explorer), it creates DisplayWebPart1.ascx.g.cs (a mysterious 1 being appended the file name). Well try consolidating that with the TFS, if you still happen to use that archaic software as your version control system. There are several solutions on msdn, stackoverflow etc, but none really worked for me. After a lot of scratching around, I found a way that consistently generates the g.cs file, correctly.

Here are the steps:

  1. Ensure the Project’s, not the Solution’s, “Site URL” is set to a valid SharePoint URL. (Impressive dependency, to regenerate your designer code locally, you need to have a valid working reachable SharePoint url)
  2. Right click on .ascx file, select Properties, and update the property “Custom Tool” to “SharePointWebPartCodeGenerator”.
  3. Right click on the .ascx file and click Run Custom Tool. At this point, if the “DisplayWebPart1.ascx.g.cs” is regenerated, your frustration is acceptable.
  4. Open the project.csproj file in Notepad++ or other editor, find the line DisplayWebPart1.ascx.g.cs
    You should see something like this:
    <Content Include=”DisplayWebPart\DisplayWebPart.ascx”>
    <Generator>SharePointWebPartCodeGenerator</Generator><LastGenOutput>DisplayWebPart1.ascx.g.cs</LastGenOutput>
    </Content>
  5. Change the LastGenOutput value to DisplayWebPart.ascx.g.cs
  6. Go back to Visual Studio 2012 and it asks to Reload the project (or Discard). 
  7. Reload the project
  8. Right click on .ascx file and Run Custom Tool again
  9. Voila, the 1 is gone and the file should be now called DisplayWebPart.ascx.g.cs.

So whats the moral of the story? Inconspicuosness is directly proportional to frustration. Like having a valid working reachable Site Url to regenerate a local designer code.

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