Aaron Stebner's WebLog

Thoughts about setup and deployment issues, WiX, XNA, the .NET Framework and Visual Studio

Content pipeline builds no longer need a D3D device starting in the XNA Game Studio 4.0 Refresh Beta 2

Content pipeline builds no longer need a D3D device starting in the XNA Game Studio 4.0 Refresh Beta 2

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The Windows Phone SDK 7.1 Beta 2 that was released last week includes the XNA Game Studio 4.0 Refresh Beta 2.  There is a change that we made in the XNA Game Studio 4.0 Refresh between Beta 1 and Beta 2 that I want to highlight because it hasn’t been advertised up to this point.

Shawn Hargreaves made a change to the content pipeline build process to address a long-standing pain point.  On certain OS configurations, it is now possible to build content via the content pipeline without requiring the ability to create a D3D device.  This means that starting in the XNA Game Studio 4.0 Refresh Beta 2, you can build content in the following types of configurations:

  • If your screen is locked during a build
  • If you are running a build on a headless computer
  • If you are running a build from a non-interactive user account (such as a TFS team build account as previously discussed here, here and here)

This functionality depends on a D3D API that does not exist on all versions of Windows that are supported by the XNA Game Studio 4.0 Refresh.  Specifically, this functionality is only available on Windows Vista and later.  On Windows XP, the content pipeline will continue to behave the way it has in the past, and it will require the ability to create a D3D device at content build time.

Assuming you are building your game on a supported OS, this functionality will work equally well for Windows, Xbox 360 and Windows Phone games.

If you have a build system for your XNA Game Studio game and are looking for more flexibility for your build machine configurations, I encourage you to try out the updated content pipeline build process in the XNA Game Studio 4.0 Refresh.  If you do so, please go to the App Hub forums and let us know if you have any questions or run into any problems.

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