Special thanks to @JasonMalinowski for his help clarifying some of the subtleties of the workspace API. Until this point, we’ve simply been constructing syntax trees from strings. This approach works well when creating short samples, but often we’d like to work with entire solutions. Enter: Workspaces. Workspaces are the root node of a C# hierarchy that consists of a solution, child projects and child documents. A fundamental tenet within Roslyn is that most objects are immutable. This means we can’t hold on to a reference to a solution and expect it to be up-to-date forever. The moment a change is made, this solution will be out of date and a new, updated solution will have been created. Workspaces are our root node. Unlike solutions, projects and documents, they won’t become invalid and always contain a reference to the current, most up-to-date solution. There are four Workspace variants to consider:
The abstract base class for all other workspaces. It’s a little disingenuous to claim that it’s a workspace variant, as you’ll never actually have an instance of it. Instead, this class serves as a sort of API around which actual workspace implementations can be created. It can be tempting to think of workspaces solely within the context of Visual Studio. After all, for most C# developers this is the only way we’ve dealt with solutions and projects. However, Workspace is meant to be agnostic as to the physical source of the files it represents. Individual implementations might store the files on the local filesystem, within a database, or even on a remote machine. One simply inherits from this class and overrides Workspace’s empty implementations as they see fit.
A workspace that has been built to handle MSBuild solution (.sln) and project (.csproj, .vbproj) files. Unfortunately it cannot currently write to .sln files, which means we can’t use it to add projects or create new solutions.
The following example shows how we can iterate over all the documents in a solution:
For more information see Learn Roslyn Now – E06 – MSBuildWorkspace.
A workspace that allows one to add solution and project files manually. One should note that the API for adding and removing solution items is different within AdhocWorkspace when compared to the other workspaces. Instead of calling TryApplyChanges(), methods for adding projects and documents are provided at the workspace level. This workspace is meant to be consumed by those who just need a quick and easy way to create a workspace and add projects and documents to it.
For more information see Learn Roslyn Now – E08 – AdhocWorkspace
The active workspace consumed within Visual Studio packages. As this workspace is tightly integrated with Visual Studio, it’s difficult to provide a small example on how to use this workspace. Steps:
- Create a new VSPackage.
- Add a reference to the
Microsoft.VisualStudio.LanguageServices.dll. It’s now available on NuGet.
- Navigate to the <VSPackageName>Package.cs file (where <VSPackageName> is the name you chose for your solution.
- Find the Initalize() method.
- Place the following code within Initialize()
When writing VSPackages, one of the most useful pieces of functionality exposed by the workspace is the WorkspaceChanged event. This event allows our VSPackage to respond to any changes made by the user or any other VSPackage. Naturally, the best way to familiarize oneself with workspaces is to use them. Roslyn’s immutability can impose a slight learning curve so we’ll be exploring how to modify documents and projects in future posts.
For more information see Learn Roslyn Now – E07 – Visual StudioWorkspace