Getting Started with Visual MEFX

I noticed that someone found their way to my blog by searching for “visual mefx how to open”.  This person probably went away disappointed, because although I mention Visual MEFX on this site, I never explained how to use it.  I ran the same search on Google and looked at the results, apparently no one who talks about Visual MEFX explains how to get it set up. Since its not obvious to at least one person out there, here’s how to do it.

Get MefContrib-Tools

From what I can tell, it’s a source only distribution.  So here’s a direct link to the source.  After downloading the zip file, be sure to right click on it, access the properties, and click “Unblock”.

This step will ensure that Visual Studio will not try to warn you about untrustworthy sources.  Unzip the source in a location of your choosing.

Build the Tools

There are two flavors of Visual MEFX, one for Silverlight, and one for the desktop.  Each has it’s own solution in the the “src” folder of the source you just downloaded.  Choose the one you are interested in, and open the solution. Choose Debug or Release mode according to your preference and build the project.

Run the Tools

Lets assume for the moment that you wanted Release versions of the tools.  Minimize Visual Studio and navigate to the bin\Release folder for the project you just built.  There are a few dlls, pdbs, xml manifests, and config files in the folder.  There are only two executable files.  The Visual MEFX desktop executable is “MefContrib.Tools.Visualizer.exe”.  Double click.


If you are interested in the Silverlight version, follow the same steps to build the project, but you will need to load the application in a browser.  Lucky for you, there will be an html file “TestPage.html” in the Release directory that you can use to get the application started.

Here it is running in Firefox and examining its own xap file. Hope this helps.