Tip/Trick: Optimizing ASP.NET 2.0 Web Project Build Performance with VS 2005
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by Scott Guthrie
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So Which Project Option Builds Faster?

When doing full builds of projects, the VS 2005 Web Application Project option will compile projects much faster that the VS 2005 Web Site Project option.  By "full build" I mean cases where every class and page in a project is being compiled and re-built - either because you selected a "Rebuild" option within your "build" menu, or because you modified code within a dependent class library project or in the /app_code directory and then hit "build" or "ctrl-shift-b" to compile the solution. 

There are a few reasons why the VS 2005 Web Application Project ends up being significantly faster than Web Site Projects in these "full rebuild" scenarios.  The main reason is that (like VS 2003), the VS 2005 Web Application Project option only compiles your page's code-behind code and other classes within your project.  It does not analyze or compile the content/controls/in-line code within your .aspx pages -- which means it does not need to parse those files.  On the downside this means that during compilation it will not check for errors in those files (unlike the VS 2005 Web Site Project option which will identify any errors there).  On the positive side it makes compilations much faster.

So does this mean that you should always use the VS 2005 Web Application Project option to get the fastest build times with large projects?  No -- not necessarily.  One nice feature that you can enable with the VS 2005 Web Site Project option is support for doing "on demand compilation".  This avoids you having to always re-build an entire project when dependent changes are made -- instead you can just re-build those pages you are working on and do it on-demand.  This will lead to significant build performance improvements for your solution, and can give you a very nice workflow when working on very large projects.  I would definitely recommend using this option if you want to improve your build performance, while retaining the flexibility of the web-site model.

The below sections provide specific tutorials for both the VS 2005 Web Site Project Model and the VS 2005 Web Application Project Model on optimization techniques -- including the "on demand compilation" build option I described above.

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