Alchemy for Tridion… for Visual Studio 2012

So, this week I finally decided to do a deep dive into Alchemy for Tridion, which is the latest hipster technology to have been created for Tridion. If you’re unfamiliar with Alchemy for Tridion, I had a little bit to say about it when I summarized the SDL Web MVP retreat. Alchemy is the way to make GUI extensions for Tridion now. But this week, I whipped out an old VM, tried to make a plugin, and had tons of heartache. Turns out there’s some ‘gotchas’ if you’re using Visual Studio 2012.

As a front-end guy who’s only recently gotten over his fear of Visual Studio, I’m sure that my experience was nothing like most Tridionauts’ experience.

Here’s how making a plugin went down for me:

  1. Look at the quick start guide in the documentation, and foolishly expect it to be quick
  2. Try the Nuget package. Build it. Look at a bin/Debug full of not .a4t files. Question Sanity.
  3. Try the Visual Studio Project Template. Build it. Look at a bin/Debug full of not .a4t files. Question sanity.
  4. Download the Hello World package. Build it. Look it. Look at a bin/Debug with the .a4t file. Question sanity more.
  5. Repeat process as necessary until sanity is no longer in question

So, I finally messaged Alex Klock, who had a little something to do with this whole Alchemy thing. We discovered some things:

  • Alchemy for Tridion was actually built in Visual Studio 2013
  • I was the first person Alex had spoken to that was using a 4 year old IDE for Alchemy plugins
  • I was the first person who didn’t have MSBuild 12.0 installed
  • Damnit

Turns out, you can totally make Alchemy for Tridion plugins in Tridion 2012. And the steps are easy:

  1. Install .NET 4.5.2
  2. Install MSBuild 12.0
  3. Optionally grab a snickers, because this may take a while
  4. Clear your Visual Studio Component Cache
  5. Re download the Visual Studio Template, the Nuget package, etc

Now, in my case, I had to throw away my previous projects. Even after all this, pre-fixed-Visual-Studio A4T projects didn’t want to build. Turns out, I hadn’t actually done anything in them yet, so this was fine. But, you’ve been warned.

Once I went through these steps, any new Alchemy plugins I tried worked just fine.

Happy Coding!


  1. //

    Great article, my good man. I’m not sure how I feel about being called a “hipster” though (I know, I know, we’ve had this conversation previously).

    1. //

      hipster, schmipster. I’m right there in the same boat since I did mostly alchemy plugins last week.

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