Creating a Visual Studio Code Task for Building a .NET Core Project

1 minute read

Visual Studio Code is a great new multi-platform code editor from Microsoft currently in beta. It is a lot more lightweight than Visual Studio.

But when writing code I in VS Code I missed the Ctrl-Shift-B shortcut. It makes sense that VS Code doesn’t have it - after all, it doesn’t know what is being written and the build targets, and you can always build without it in .NET Core using dnu build but it can be added back in.

Visual Studio Code Tasks

Turns out you can integrate your own tasks into VS Code - when combined with Gulp it becomes easy to map Ctrl-Shift-B (or Cmd-Shift-B on a Mac) to dnu build. Scott Hanselman has a good guide called:

Integrating Visual Studio Code with dnx-watch to develop ASP.NET 5 applications

Which can guide you through the process. But it only works if your gulp file is also at the root of your project. What if it is located elsewhere - like in the src directory?

Specifying the Current Working Directory

If you take a look at the Tasks.json schema there is Command Options interface which has two properties - one of which is cwd - current working directory. This can be combined with Variable Substitution, which gives access to values like the workspace root.

So in a task add an options object with a cwd property which points to the folder containing your gulp file - an example is below:

    "version": "0.1.0",
    "command": "gulp",
    "isShellCommand": true,
    "options": {
        "cwd": "${workspaceRoot}/src/MyProject"
    "tasks": [
            "taskName": "dnu-build",
            "isBuildCommand": true,
            "showOutput": "always",
            "isWatching": true

Now, this gulp task will be assigned to Shift-Ctrl-B and run within the working directory of ./src/MyProject using the gulp file within that folder.