Write entire XML fragments in MSBuild with XmlPoke

I recently needed to write an entire project file via a targets (weird, I know). I was dreading all the crazy angle brackets escaping as < and > when I decided to check the latest official docs on XmlPoke to refresh the parameters and format. To my surprise, I found this example:

<Project xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/developer/msbuild/2003">
        <Namespace Prefix="dn" Uri="http://schemas.microsoft.com/appx/manifest/foundation/windows10" />
        <Namespace Prefix="mp" Uri="http://schemas.microsoft.com/appx/2014/phone/manifest" />
        <Namespace Prefix="uap" Uri="http://schemas.microsoft.com/appx/manifest/uap/windows10" />

<Target Name="Poke">

Notice how the $(Namespace) property has beautiful XML inside. Which only makes sense, since, there had to be some advantage in MSBuild being XML, right? So I figured, if the namespaces can be a full nested XML element, could the Value be too? And the answer was a resounding YEAHHH:


  <XmlPoke XmlInputPath="$(MSBuildProjectFullPath).user"

That writes an entire <PropertyGroup> element into a .user project file!

For the attentive reader: you'd think I made a mistake, since, in XML-land, elements inherit the XML namespace of their parent element. Seems like the XML namespace management in XmlPoke is a bit on the loose side of things: the above snippets are in a .targets file without any xmlns (it's an SDK-style <Project> without namespace, to keep it clean. Yet, the property group is added without messing up the namespace:

<Project xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/developer/msbuild/2003">

If it had inserted it without a namespace, per the XML spec, it should have added an xmlns="" to clear the parent Project node namespace. But alas, it didn't, and in this particular case, it makes it way more convenient this way :).

I'm using this in SmallSharp to initialize the .user project options properly with the right startup file for multi-startup top-level statements scripts in a single project :).

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