I have a .NET application which has different configuration files for Debug and Release builds. E.g. the debug app.config file points to a development SQL Server which has debugging enabled and the release target points to the live SQL Server. There are also other settings, some of which are different in debug/release.
I currently use two separate configuration files (debug.app.config and release.app.config). I have a build event on the project which says if this is a release build then copy release.app.config to app.config, else copy debug.app.config to app.config.
The problem is that the application seems to get its settings from the settings.settings file, so I have to open settings.settings in Visual Studio which then prompts me that the settings have changed so I accept the changes, save settings.settings and have to rebuild to make it use the correct settings.
Is there a better/recommended/preferred method for achieving a similar effect? Or equally, have I approached this completely wrong and is there a better approach?
Any configuration that might differ across environments should stored at the machine level, not the application level. (More info on configuration levels.)
These are the kinds of configuration elements that I typically store at the machine level:
When each environment (developer, integration, test, stage, live) has its own unique settings in the c:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework64\v2.0.50727\CONFIG directory, then you can promote your application code between environments without any post-build modifications.
And obviously, the contents of the machine-level CONFIG directory get version-controlled in a different repository or a different folder structure from your app. You can make your .config files more source-control friendly through intelligent use of configSource.
I've been doing this for 7 years, on over 200 ASP.NET applications at 25+ different companies. (Not trying to brag, just want to let you know that I've never seen a situation where this approach doesn't work.)