Visual Studio inserts invalid characters in batch files

Visual Studio-2008Batch File

Visual Studio-2008 Problem Overview

I've got some batch files that I use to help automate the process of creating and reloading development databases. It makes sense to create and maintain these batch files in Visual Studio (i.e., in a VS Database project). They look pretty simple, like this:

@echo off
echo Setting server and db from defaults.
echo Creating tables on server %SERVERNAME% and database %DB%
sqlcmd -S %SERVERNAME% -d %DB% -E -i DropAllTables.sql
sqlcmd -S %SERVERNAME% -d %DB% -E -i dbo.UserType.Table.sql
sqlcmd -S %SERVERNAME% -d %DB% -E -i dbo.RegisteredUser.Table.sql
echo Done creating tables.

The problem is that when I run them, this is the output:

'' is not recognized as an internal or external command,
operable program or batch file.
Creating tables on server (LOCAL) and database PLEDGES
Done creating tables.

In other words, Visual Studio is somehow invisibly inserting a set of characters that the Windows command processor is interpreting as a command, i.e., "". A Google search returned nothing on this. Has anybody else run into this? Thoughts on a fix?

I've got a workaround (just add a blank line to the beginning of each file, and it'll show the error, but otherwise work fine), but the anal-retentive side of myself gets annoyed each time I run one of these files.

Visual Studio-2008 Solutions

Solution 1 - Visual Studio-2008

Ray is correct when he says that Visual Studio's default format for text is something like UTF-8. Although Notepad++ is a great tool and I use it myself, there is an alternative in that you can tell Visual Studio to store your text file in ASCII format:

In VS2008, select your file in the solution explorer and choose File...Save myfile.bat As...

On the down arrow on the Save button, choose Save with Encoding.

When saving in the Advanced Save Options dialog, Choose US-ASCII in the Encoding drop-down list. Set the line endings as required, or leave it as Current Setting.

Solution 2 - Visual Studio-2008

What is happening is that VisualStudio is being clever and hiding you from the fact that your batch-file has been saved in a non-ASCII character encoding (e.g. your file is UTF-8 or some other non-ASCII encoding).

My project team has been caught out a few times by this (if the files are checked into CVS it makes the files a mess).

I tend to use Notepad++, look at the encoding on the lower-right (it should say that it is ANSI), if you need to change it go to the format menu and change the type then save.

Visual Studio should look identical but the file size should have halved!

Solution 3 - Visual Studio-2008

Another way to correct this from within visual studio is...

  1. Right click the file in solution explorer and select 'Open With'
  2. Choose one of the "... With Encoding" options
  3. Choose US-ASCII from the encodings list
  4. Save the file

Now it should retain that selected encoding whenever you open it.

Solution 4 - Visual Studio-2008

While this was useful in my quest to solve the issue in Visual basic, the solution is to tell VB to use ASCII encoding as shown below:

        outFile = My.Computer.FileSystem.OpenTextFileWriter(myPath, True, System.Text.Encoding.ASCII)
 Catch ex As Exception

Solution 5 - Visual Studio-2008

I've had the issue too and it was only apparent when I was creating a grammar file for use with Antlr4. I use these steps:

  1. Right click file in the solution explorer and select "Open With"
  2. Choose "Binary Editor"
  3. Press DEL three times in the opened hex editor and save


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Content TypeOriginal AuthorOriginal Content on Stackoverflow
QuestionKen SmithView Question on Stackoverflow
Solution 1 - Visual Studio-2008jadustyView Answer on Stackoverflow
Solution 2 - Visual Studio-2008Ray HayesView Answer on Stackoverflow
Solution 3 - Visual Studio-2008StingyJackView Answer on Stackoverflow
Solution 4 - Visual Studio-2008DJONESView Answer on Stackoverflow
Solution 5 - Visual Studio-2008AndyBView Answer on Stackoverflow