Category Archives : Tips and Tricks

Preparing for ASP.NET vNext and Visual Studio 2015

Happy Thanksgiving to folks in the USA.

I’ve finally taken the plunge and decided to get stuck into the recently released Release Candidate (RC) of ASP.NET 5.  Prior to today, I’d stuck with the RTM version of Visual Studio 2015 which insulated me from some of the changes which are on the horizon.

A few months ago, I’d managed to put together a working (live) solution using VS 2015 and the new Web Projects, and you can see it here at

Whilst this was handy experience, it barely prepared me for the massive changes to the development environment which ASP.NET 5 RC requires.  This article contains my experiences in getting a Web API project compiled and run when consuming ASP.NET 5 RC packages.

Git Support

Whether you use Github, Team Foundation Server Source Control or no source control, you’ll want Git support in your dev environment anyway.  A lot of PowerShell scripts and commands pull and clone from Git repositories, and command line integration, IMHO is essential.  If you haven’t installed Git support with Visual Studio 2015, now’s the time to do so.

Install Git/GitHub support when you install Visual Studio 2015 (or modify your install)


Also you can download Git tools for Windows from and support for Git in PowerShell here:

Speaking of PowerShell….

Preparing PowerShell

Enable PowerShell script execution.  You’ll probably be working with PowerShell more than you have in the past, even if you aren’t writing the script.  You’ll certainly be using PowerShell commands, at a minimum inside the Package Manager Console inside VS 2015.

Open a PowerShell console as Administrator, then: Set-ExecutionPolicy Unrestricted

If you get the following error when loading the Package Manager Console inside Visual Studio 2015:

“”Windows PowerShell updated your execution policy successfully, but the setting is overridden by a policy defined at a more specific scope. Due to the override, your shell will retain its current effective execution policy of Unrestricted. Type “Get-ExecutionPolicy -List” to view your execution policy settings. For more information please see “Get-Help Set-ExecutionPolicy”.”””

Here’s my PowerShell Execution Policy on a Workgroup-based computer:


..and on a Domain-joined machine with a Group Policy Object applied:


It’s likely caused by a Group Policy Object (GPO) which is setting a domain-policy on PowerShell restrictions.  Even if you modify and update group policy, this error condition may persist.  Based on an article here:

A registry hack will get you past this annoying issue:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00



Working with DNX, DNU and DNVM

To manage different versions of the .NET Runtime environments, you’ll need to get familiar with dnx (Microsoft .NET Execution environment), dnu (.NET Development Utility) and dnvm (.NET Version Manager).  Screenshots below.  You should be able to execute them from the Visual Studio 2015 Command Line Tool:








If you get the message:

“’dnx’ is not recognized as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file.”

You can fix this issue by running the following command:dnvm use default –p

which will persist the changes to the environment variable for the current user.


On another machine, I was warned about a deprecated environment variable:


Which might beg the question….

What are KRE, KVM, KPM?

In short, KRE/KVM and KPM are management bits for ASP.NET 5.  K-bits were named to DNX/DNVM.  I’m Including this info in case it leads you to this article.

From the link above:

K has three components:

  1. KRE – K Runtime Environment is the code required to bootstrap and run an ASP.NET vNext application. This includes things like the compilation system, SDK tools, and the native CLR hosts.
  2. KVM – K Version Manager is for updating and installing different versions of KRE. KVM is also used to set default KRE version.
  3. KPM – K Package Manager manages packages needed by applications to run. Packages in this context are NuGet packages.

Microsoft ASP.NET and Web Tools 2015 (RC) – Visual Studio 2015

Lastly, before you get too excited, there’s a couple of hundred megabytes of updates you’ll need to the supporting tooling for the RC (RTM differs too much, some important things were renamed since then).

The latest version, naturally, requires updated tooling.  If you only have Visual Studio 2015 RTM, then prepare for some fun.  You can download the RC bits here:

Which leads me to installing all of the following on my Development machine:



The net result is that when I now open Visual Studio 2015, and I create a new project – I select .NET Framework 4.6 and when I create a new ASP.NET Web project, the options include:




Here’s some infuriating error messages you might stumble across in trying to compile a simple Web API…..

“DNX 4.5.1 error NU1002: The dependency <Assembly> in project <Project> does not support framework DNX,Version=v4.5.1.” e.g.

“DNX 4.5.1 error NU1002: The dependency System.Runtime 4.0.0 in project Asp5Api does not support framework DNX,Version=v4.5.1.”


System.IO.FileNotFoundException: Could not load file or assembly ‘Microsoft.DNX.PackageManager’ or one of its dependencies. The system cannot find the file specified.

Means you probably haven’t installed the latest Web Tools.  The PackageManager assembly apparently has been renamed, and is reflected in the later (post-RTM) versions.

Visual Studio 2015 – Using a Product Key 3


Continuing from the experience with Visual Studio 2013, the next edition – Visual Studio 2015 – was officially released to MSDN subscribers early this morning.  This edition follows the trend established in the previous edition of providing two channels of licensing – by using a Microsoft Account or by supplying a product key.

Get a Product Key

You’ll need to have an MSDN Subscription which matches the version of Visual Studio you are using.  Authenticate to MSDN Subscriptions and go to the Subscriber Downloads section. 


Here you’ll see a tab for “My Product Keys”.  In the list of keys there should be static activation keys for your account.  Find and copy out the product key for your version of Visual Studio 2015 (e.g. Enterprise, Professional, Test Professional).


  • If you don’t have a Product Key listed, as with Visual Studio 2013 it’s likely tied to the type of MSDN Subscription you have – whether you have assigned a perpetual license of not.  Whether or not Visual Studio carries a Product Key/perpetual license seems to depend on the type of MSDN subscription.
  • If you don’t have an MSDN subscription, but have instead purchased a retail copy of Visual Studio 2015 when it becomes available, there should be a Product Key with the product.  A boxed product should have a Product Key on the media (or box) and a soft copy should have a key associated with it somehow (maybe it is mailed to you?).

Install Visual Studio 2015

Once you have acquired a Product Key, the next step is to install Visual Studio 2015.  I’ve chosen to evaluate Visual Studio 2015 Enterprise edition, which replaces Premium and Ultimate editions (they have been merged into a single SKU).

image  image image

There’s some different options in this new edition (when using a custom install), the options I selected to install will absorb over 24 GB of hard drive space.  Probably best you avoid installing VS 2015 o a netbook!  If you want to minimise the install vector, unselecting the Cross Platform Mobile Development saves a lot of space.

Registering Visual Studio 2015

Once the installation completes, you’ll be able to launch the Visual Studio 2015 IDE.  You’ll be taken through the usual “first time user” wizard, which establishes your development and UI preferences.  You can skip logging in with a Microsoft account by choosing “Not now..”.

image  image

Once the IDE loads, you can select “Register Product” from the Help menu:

image  image

Once the registration dialog appears, use the “License with a Product Key” option, and enter your Product Key with the popup window.

image   image

Note: you don’t have to be online for the process to complete, so it looks like a good option for offline installs.


None!  The normalised CamelCase menus are back by default.


Documenting a ASP.NET Web API with Swagger 2

MVC3    +   swagger2

In this article, I’m going to take a look at some ways you could generate documentation for ASP.NET Web API.  Unless you’ve never generated a Web API website, you’ll be aware that the default templates already include functionality to generate documentation for the API which you might implement, an example of which is here at

Getting started

There’s more than a couple of articles already written about how to generate documentation for ASP.NET Web API using Swagger (and there’s a NuGet package called Swashbuckle which you can easily integrate), but I needed something less dynamic – in fact, I needed to generate static documentation representing what we’d promoted to production (point in time), as it needed to be provided for an audit.

The traditional documentation (e.g. Sandcastle Help File Builder) i clearly not viable as it documents managed code rather than the more important API interfaces and runtime models.

Luckily for me, there’s a toolset complimenting Swagger called Swagger codegen which generates client code to consume APIs, and for me – an ability to generate static HTML (courtesy of [1]) Unfortunately I couldn’t find a .NET port of Swagger Codegen, so I bit the bullet and compiled the Java binaries from the source using Maven and the latest JDK.

What you need

You need to be able to generate a Web API site which you can spin up in IIS or IIS Express.  Ideally, what you’d do is integrate the previously mentioned Swashbuckle NuGet package into your existing (or new) Web API Project. Once installed, all you need to do is change the project settings to generate a comments XML file (not a mandatory step, but useful – see image below) and then configure the SwaggerConfig.cs file which is inserted into the project under the App_Startup folder.

Enable XML comments output.

Swashbuckle NuGet packages (Swashbuckle and Swashbuckle.Core)

Here’s a really brief (minimal) implementation of the SwaggerConfig with the copious comments removed:

public class SwaggerConfig
   public static void Register()
       var thisAssembly = typeof(SwaggerConfig).Assembly;
       .EnableSwagger(c =>
          c.SingleApiVersion("v1", "API Services");
      .EnableSwaggerUi(c =>
   private static string GetXmlCommentsPath()
       var path = String.Format(@"{0}bin\Services.XML", AppDomain.CurrentDomain.BaseDirectory);
       return path;

If you compile and run, you should be able to resolve the Swagger UI, like this:



A very, very impressive dynamic documentation UI.

The key here is in the generated JSON which is accessible via the URI in the textbox, in my case it is: http://localhost:2218/swagger/docs/v1 (swagger.json)

Example swagger JSON

Converting to static documentation

Moving on to swagger codegen, you’ll also need a copy of the Java JDK. After installing the JDK (if you haven’t already), you’ll then need to ensure that the JAVA_HOME environment variable is correctly to the correct directory (NOT the runtime directory) and install/extract Maven binaries.

I used the latest JDK (1.8, 32 bit) which has the following directory: C:\Program Files (x86)\Java\jdk1.8.0_51 I also installed Maven into the Java directory and added it to the system path (the bin directory, specifically):


When ready, al you need is to extract the swagger codegen code into a local directory, browse to that directory in a command prompt and type mvn package:

image  image

Wait a while while Maven grabs all the packages

Once successfully compiled, it’s a simple matter of executing the compiled jar file.  In my case, I had placed the extracted swagger files in C:\Tools.  Open a command prompt and browse to the following location:


To generate a static HTML document for your API use the following syntax:

java -jar modules/swagger-codegen-cli/target/swagger-codegen-cli.jar generate -i http://localhost:2218/swagger/docs/v1 -l html

This produces a nice static document of your Web API:


A nice static HTML file which you can “print” to PDF, or copy and paste into Word


If your generated .json produces an empty object like this:

“Object”: {
“type”: “object”,
“properties”: {}

It could well be due to a lack of sufficient information about the data type in a response.  For example, take the following example Controller definition:

public class VersionController : ApiController
private readonly IVersionQuery _query;
public VersionController(IVersionQuery query) { Guard.That(query, "query").IsNotNull(); _query = query; }

[AllowAnonymous] public IHttpActionResult Get() { var version = _query.GetVersion(); return Ok(version); } }

What we’re missing here is an attribute which provides the return type, like this, decorating the Get() implementation:


I was assisted in making this discovery by the issues logged at [2], [3].