Catastrophic Failure in Visual Studio 2103 ( SetSite failed for package [DesignerPackage] )

I’ve been away for a couple of days, switched on my development computer, answered a few emails and then started Visual Studio 2013 to do some urgent work for a client.

I was faced by a barrage of message boxes stating that various tools and libraries could not be loaded and mentioning something about a recent update (recent update – as far as I was aware I hadn’t made any recent updates).

The project I was working on appeared to load (Unit Test runner was displayed) but nothing in any of the other panels or windows, and VisualHG seemed to recognise the project. Close and re-open a couple of times and exactly the same messages.

Tried to run the Test Runner and got the message:

ReSharper Failed to build required projects

The build could not be started. Catastropic failure (Exception from HRESULT: 0X8000FFFF (E_UNEXPECTED))

So I decide to re-boot to see if that clears things. It’s then that I see the Update icon on the Shutdown button. So, for some reason Windows has partially updated itself without telling me and screwed up VS2013! Nice one MicroSoft!

Checked ActivityLog.xml and it had loads of RED Errors – mostly MicroSoft items.

After the re-boot VS2013 was still totalled, and a quick bit of browsing found this:

The ResetSettings parameter process did not work.

As I write this I’m running Repair on VS2013 (watching paint dry)…. Cancelled it because it was taking so long at the Preparation stage.

Later: It took about 30 minutes to complete the cancellation process but reported 93 of 96 items updated at the end and requested a reboot of the PC. After doing this VS2013 opened as though it had been just updated BUT it opened and displayed the projects and seemed to be working ok.

Luckily I had not attempted to run VS2012 before the reboot. When I did – it worked and loaded the project ok.


1) Be aware of when Windows has started one of it’s updates – if it’s halfway through it’ll screw up your Visual Studio if you try to run it.

2) If one version of Visual Studio is messed up – DO NOT TRY TO test another version of Visual Studio before the update has been completed !



Tools of the Trade: .NET DEMON

I’ve been using RedGate’s .NET DEMON for a couple of years and find it to be one of those simple but very useful utilities.

What it does: Builds your project – as you write code. So you get instant feedback on any build errors – if there are none then your project is always built and ready to run.

An indicator in the lower right status bar shows the build state: Green (All project up to date) = successful build; Red = Error (View Error: Shift+Alt+Ins) = failed build. So you can find and fix errors as you type. It is fast – it’ll show an error as you’re typing a statement before you get to the statement terminator ;

It works in VS2010 and higher – but, unfortunately NOT in VS2008 (unfortunately, because I still do a lot of project work in VS2008 and it would really help in that).

As a (mostly) solo developer I’ve found it an excellent tool – I almost forget it’s there – running away in the background – apart from keeping an eye on the little indicator.

A number of options allow you to control when and how it runs, and whether it replaces the Visual Studio build system with it’s own optimized build system.

It’s relatively inexpensive at under £20 for a single developer or small company and, as you’d expect, there’s a time limited trial version.

Well worth checking out: