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Redirecting the appSettings content to a user-specific file

Posted by Fernando Felman on April 26, 2007

It happens a lot in the development process: the settings in the configuration files differ in the development, staging and production environments and each time you switch environment you’ve to update the app.config. Since you can only save one such app.config, the file version in the VSS quickly gets filled with inconsistent values. Apparently, there is a nice solution to that issue: use the user.config to save user-specific settings.

I found it by sheer luck while reading a very interesting article (Web Projects and Source Control Integration in Visual Studio .NET) in which the appendix A: “Setting Up Dynamic URL Web References”explains how to redirect the appSetting to a user specific file to create dynamic web references. I then did some search on that feature and came across this Q&A posted by Raghavendra Prabhu:

To redirect the appSettings node from the app.config to the user.config, you’ve to add the following setting to the app.config:
<appSettings file="user.config">

And here’s the funny thing, I knew about the user.config and how the Profiles mechanism in ASP.NET 2 uses it to store user specific settings, but I never did the connection of how it can be used in the development process. Silly really, it’s quite obvious once you think about it. Thanks Microsoft for opening my eyes! 🙂


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