Well, just as I'm getting ready to go to NIWeek 2017, I finally solved (to my satisfaction) the "Build an Application setting the Version Number at Build Time" problem (described here). I basically "gave up" and wrote a VI I called "Build Right" that (a) found the Project Path, (b) asked the User to choose the Build Spec from a Combo Box, (c) set the Build Spec version from the SVN Build, and having done all of these "pre-Build Actions", go do the Build.
Confession -- while writing this note, I just realized that I hadn't removed the (now unnecessary, and mal-functioning, "Pre-Build Action" setting in the Build Spec, oops!).
Yes my code at one point had a boolean constant that you could set which would re-invoke the build with the updated version but as you noticed there wasn't any feedback on how the build was going. Is it successful? Failed? Is there a progress bar? I need to know!
So I just end up building twice so I can see a progress of some kind.