Andrew Connell’s VS SharePoint Project Utility Tool Window
Andrew Connell, MOSS MVP and SharePoint WCM Expert Extraordinaire, has released a useful new utility for all you designers and developers who create SharePoint solution packages on a regular basis. This tool is an add-in to Visual Studio (both 2005 and 2008) that allows you to create a complete 12 hive replica, manifest, and DDF files with a single click. I can’t tell you how many hours this tool has saved me when creating complex site definition packages by making all the manifest entries for me. Here’s how it works:
First, when you create a new project, select which folders from the 12 hive you want to create:
The Project Utility Tool will then create the folder structure within the project and – here’s the best part – create feature and site template folders, along with the basic XML configuration files for you automatically:
Once you’ve added all the Feature files, ElementManifests, images, web parts, assemblies, and other files needed for your solution, just press the ‘Create DDF File’ and ‘Create Manifest.xml File’ buttons. The tool will scan the entire project, generate and add the necessary entries to both files (assembly and SafeControl references, TemplateFiles, Images, Styles, etc.), then place them in a new Deployment Files folder:
Now you can use MSBUILD or your custom build scripts to generate the solution package. The advantage of this approach is that it doesn’t require a VS template that each user must have installed on their computer. It works in any VS solution so it doesn’t require you to modify your team practices (unless you’re not using the 12 hive approach, in which case this is a good time to update your best practices). I really like this tool and keep it pinned in my VS windows so it’s just a click away.
Head on over to AC’s blog for more information and to grab a download for yourself.