How should I set up a development environment for making add-ins for ArcGIS 10.3? There is no walk-thru anywhere that I can find for this. First, ESRI says Visual Studio 2013 is supported but in other places people say it is not. Also here they walk-thru fixes for the MSBuild targets which is a problem I am encountering because I am updating an Add-In but can't even find the targets to rename after installing the SDK.

Furthermore, where is the best link to the SDK to download for 10.3.x development? There is no help here with with what version of the SDK to download as I would expect. What is the order in which the SDK and the best version of Microsoft VS needs to be installed in? I reverted to VS 2010 and removed and re-installed the SDK ArcGIS Runtime for .NET 10.2.6 from the developers.arcgis.com site and there are no targets in my Program Files (x86)/MSbuild/ directory as apparently there should be.

In summary, what is a step-by-step walkthru for developing Add-Ins for ArcGIS 10.3+ with .NET and Visual Studio (any version)?

  • If you are using 10.3 then install visual studio 2012, that's what I have and it's all working fine for me.
    – Hornbydd
    Commented Nov 17, 2015 at 14:20
  • Is the advice given in the answers applicable to 10.4 too?
    – user173
    Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 11:24

2 Answers 2


Yes, things can seem a bit complicated.

However, I can confirm that developing add-ins works with ArcGIS 10.3 and Visual Studio 2013. I haven't tried 2015, but I don't expect it to work, because it came out after ArcGIS 10.3.

Some people are having issues debugging in Visual Studio 2013, but for me it eventually worked.

The ArcObjects SDK for the Microsoft .NET Framework can be downloaded from http://my.esri.com, if you have a proper license. These are downloads for version 10.3. Make sure you download the version that corresponds to the version of ArcGIS Desktop that you are using.

FWIW, the order in which you need to install is:

  1. Visual Studio
  2. ArcGIS Desktop
  3. ArcObjects SDK
  • note, visual studio 2012+ is required for ArcGIS 10.3 ArcObjects SDK development.
    – r4gt4g
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 18:10
  • after installing VS 2012+ and the SDK, the ArcGIS.Desktop.AddIns references cannot be found
    – r4gt4g
    Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 4:46
  • fixed the issue by re-installing everything
    – r4gt4g
    Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 5:34
  • be sure to do two things: install the addin templates accompanying the SDK package and if you are upgrading an existing Add-In project, you nee d to edit the vbproj file to reference the right targets... gis.stackexchange.com/questions/140341/…
    – r4gt4g
    Commented Nov 24, 2015 at 1:48

I don't know why ArcGIS Runtime for .NET sdk is so confusing for many people. ArcGIS Runtime for .NET sdk is a standalone sdk to develope standalone enterprise applications. see:

However to develop ArcGIS Desktop Addins you need to install ArcObjects SDK for .NET. Based on the documentation ArcObjects SDK 10.3.x, should work with either VS 2012 or 2013. I haven't tested it with 2013, but works find with 2012 (Update 4)

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