The MSBuildDeps is the dependency information generator for Microsoft MSBuild build system. It will generate multiple xxxx.props properties files, one per dependency of a package, to be used by consumers using MSBuild or Visual Studio, just adding the generated properties files to the solution and projects.

The MSBuildDeps generator can be used by name in conanfiles:
class Pkg(ConanFile):
    generators = "MSBuildDeps"

And it can also be fully instantiated in the conanfile generate() method:
from conan import ConanFile
from import MSBuildDeps

class Pkg(ConanFile):
    settings = "os", "compiler", "arch", "build_type"
    requires = "zlib/1.2.11", "bzip2/1.0.8"

    def generate(self):
        ms = MSBuildDeps(self)

Generated files

The MSBuildDeps generator is a multi-configuration generator, and generates different files for any different Debug/Release configuration. For instance, running these commands:

$ conan install .  # default is Release
$ conan install . -s build_type=Debug

It generates the next files:

  • conan_zlib_vars_release_x64.props: Conanzlibxxxx variables definitions for the zlib dependency, Release config, like ConanzlibIncludeDirs, ConanzlibLibs, etc.
  • conan_zlib_vars_debug_x64.props: Same Conanzlib``variables for ``zlib dependency, Debug config
  • conan_zlib_release_x64.props: Activation of Conanzlibxxxx variables in the current build as standard C/C++ build configuration, Release config. This file contains also the transitive dependencies definitions.
  • conan_zlib_debug_x64.props: Same activation of Conanzlibxxxx variables, Debug config, also inclusion of transitive dependencies.
  • conan_zlib.props: Properties file for zlib. It conditionally includes, depending on the configuration, one of the two immediately above Release/Debug properties files.
  • Same 5 files are generated for every dependency in the graph, in this case conan_bzip.props too, which conditionally includes the Release/Debug bzip properties files.
  • conandeps.props: Properties files that includes all direct dependencies, for this case conan_zlib.props and conan_bzip2.props

Add the conandeps.props to your solution project files if you want to depend on all the declared dependencies. For single project solutions, this is probably the way to go. For multi-project solutions, you might be more efficient and add properties files per project. You could add conan_zlib.props properties to “project1” in the solution and conan_bzip2.props to “project2” in the solution for example.

The above files are generated when the package doesn’t have components. If the package has defined components, the following files will be generated:

  • conan_pkgname_compname_vars_release_x64.props: Definition of variables for the component compname of the package pkgname
  • conan_pkgname_compname_release_x64.props: Activation of the above variables into VS effective variables to be used in the build
  • conan_pkgname_compname.props: Properties file for component compname of package pkgname. It conditionally includes, depending on the configuration, the specific activation property files.
  • conan_pkgname.props: Properties file for package pkgname. It includes and aggregates all the components of the package.
  • conandeps.props: Same as above, aggregates all the direct dependencies property files for the packages (like conan_pkgname.props)

If your project depends only on certain components, the specific conan_pkgname_compname.props files can be added to the project instead of the global or the package ones.

Requirement traits support

The above generated files, more specifically the files containing the variables (conan_pkgname_vars_release_x64.props/conan_pkgname_compname_vars_release_x64.props), will not contain all the information if the requirement traits have excluded them. For example, by default, the includedirs of transitive dependencies will be empty, as those headers shouldn’t be included by the user unless a specific requires to that package is defined.


If your Visual Studio project defines custom configurations, like ReleaseShared, or MyCustomConfig, it is possible to define it into the MSBuildDeps generator, so different project configurations can use different set of dependencies. Let’s say that our current project can be built as a shared library, with the custom configuration ReleaseShared, and the package also controls this with the shared option:

from conan import ConanFile
from import MSBuildDeps

class Pkg(ConanFile):
    settings = "os", "compiler", "arch", "build_type"
    options = {"shared": [True, False]}
    default_options = {"shared": False}
    requires = "zlib/1.2.11"

    def generate(self):
        ms = MSBuildDeps(self)
        # We assume that -o *:shared=True is used to install all shared deps too
        if self.options.shared:
            ms.configuration = str(self.settings.build_type) + "Shared"

This generates new properties files for this custom configuration, and switching it in the IDE allows to gather dependencies configuration like Debug/Release, and even static and/or shared libraries.


MSBuildDeps uses the self.dependencies to access to the dependencies information. The following dependencies are translated to properties files:

  • All the direct dependencies, which are the ones declared by the current conanfile, live in the host context: all regular requires, plus the tool_requires, that are in the host context, e.g. test frameworks like gtest or catch.
  • All transitive requires of those direct dependencies (all in the host context)
  • Tool requires, in the build context, that is, application and executables that run in the build machine irrespective of the destination platform, are added exclusively to the <ExecutablePath> property, taking the value from $(Conan{{name}}BinaryDirectories) defined properties. This allows to define custom build commands, invoke code generation tools, with the <CustomBuild> and <Command> elements.



MSBuildDeps is affected by these [conf] variables:

  • list of packages names patterns to be added to the Visual Studio CAExcludePath property.


class MSBuildDeps(conanfile)

MSBuildDeps class generator conandeps.props: unconditional import of all direct dependencies only

Parameters:conanfile< ConanFile object > The current recipe object. Always use self.

Generates conan_<pkg>_<config>_vars.props, conan_<pkg>_<config>.props, and conan_<pkg>.props files into the conanfile.generators_folder.