abszero abszero - 15 days ago 6x
C# Question

Restoring all Nuget Packages in a Visual Studio 2015 Solution

I have read many of the answers on SO and NuGet (and the Internet in general, really), but I can't seem to overcome the problem I am having with NuGet package restore in Visual Studio 2015. I have the following scenarios.

Solution A Structure

--Project A

If I open and build Solution A I see the dialog box that shows the nuget package restore progress and the solution builds successfully.

Solution B Structure

--Project A

--Project B

However, assuming that I have never built Solution A (i.e. fresh pull from TFS), if I open and build Solution B I see the dialog box that shows the nuget package restore progress, but the build fails because Project A fails to build.

What appears to be happening is that that NuGet is restoring the packages for Project B, but not for Project A thus the build failure. To the point, if I look at the references for Project B all of the NuGet references have resolved, but the references for Project A are still broken.

A few points:

  • I have disabled source control integration for NuGet so I am not checking in the Packages folder.

  • Each project has its own packages.config file

  • The build order in Solution B is Project A then Project B

Thoughts would be greatly appreciated.


howcheng's answer is generally correct with some caveats. After implementing the changes howcheng suggested, I was able to build all of my solutions locally using a central 'packages' folders that all projects look at, regardless of solution. The problem that I ran into though was that when I checked these changes in to TFS, my CI build kicked off and failed!

My CI Build Definition builds both Solution A and Solution B as part of the default XAML process template, not a .proj file. The errors that I was seeing seemed to indicate that Solution A was restoring its packages, but Solution B was not. If I logged onto the build server and opened Solution B in VS 2015 everything worked fine; after Googling for a couple of hours I came across this article which ended up leading me to my answer.

I am developing in Visual Studio 2015 but I am using TFS 2013 for source control and builds. Despite the fact that I have Visual Studio 2015 installed on the build server, MSBuild still references the version of NuGet that shipped with TFS 2013 and NOT with the version included with VS 2015. Once I ran
nuget update -self
from the TFS Tools directory my build worked correctly.


By default, NuGet creates the solution's packages folder in the solution root, and each project references its package DLLs to that "local" packages folder. In your example, if you open the .csproj file for Project A, you'll probably see that the reference path is something like ..\packages\[package name]\[etc].

So when you do a fresh pull from TFS and build solution B, Project A can't find its DLLs because c:\workspace\Solution A\packages doesn't exist yet (or whatever the absolute path is on your machine).

To correct this, use a shared package folder, created at c:\workspace\packages. To do this, you have to add an additional node to the NuGet.config in each solution (see https://docs.nuget.org/consume/nuget-config-file for details; I am also assuming you have a NuGet folder at c:\workspace\Solution A\.nuget):

  <add key="repositorypath" value="..\..\packages" />

I used a relative path here, but you can use an absolute path as well, and the documentation says you can use %HOME% as well.

Do this, then restart Visual Studio. The next time you open the package manager, it should ask you if you want to restore missing packages, and assuming you click yes, it will put them in the new location. The last step is to edit the .csproj file and change all instances of ..\packages to ..\..\packages (or you can uninstall and reinstall the package, but I find editing the .csproj a lot faster).