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How to: Create Multi-Project Templates

Multi-project templates act as containers for two or more projects. When a project based on a multi-project template is created from the New Project dialog box, every project included in the template is added to the solution.

A multi-project template must include the following items, compressed into a single .zip file:

  • A root .vstemplate file for the entire multi-project template. This root .vstemplate file contains the metadata that the New Project dialog displays, and specifies where to find the .vstemplate files for the projects in this template. This file must be located at the root of the .zip file.

  • One or more folders containing the files needed for a complete project template. This includes all code files for the project as well as a .vstemplate file for the project.

For example, a multi-project template .zip file with two projects could have the following files and directories:

MultiProjectTemplate.vstemplate

\Project1\Project1.vstemplate

\Project1\Project1.vbproj

\Project1\Class.vb

\Project2\Project2.vstemplate

\Project2\Project2.vbproj

\Project2\Class.vb

The root .vstemplate file for a multi-project template differs from a single project template in the following ways:

  • The Type attribute of the VSTemplate element contains the value ProjectGroup. For example:

    <VSTemplate Version="2.0.0" Type="ProjectGroup"
        xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/developer/vstemplate/2005">
    
  • The TemplateContent element contains a ProjectCollection element with one or more ProjectTemplateLink elements that define the paths to the .vstemplate files of the included projects. For example:

    <TemplateContent>
        <ProjectCollection>
            <ProjectTemplateLink>
                Project1\Project1.vstemplate
            </ProjectTemplateLink>
            <ProjectTemplateLink>
                Project2\Project2.vstemplate
            </ProjectTemplateLink>
        </ProjectCollection>
    </TemplateContent>
    

Multi-project templates also behave differently than normal templates. Multi-project templates have the following unique characteristics:

  • Individual projects in a multi-project template cannot be assigned names by the New Project dialog box. Instead, use the ProjectName attribute on the ProjectTemplateLink element to specify the name for each project. For more information, see the first example in the following section.

  • Multi-project templates can contain projects written in different languages, but the entire template itself can only be placed into one category with the ProjectType element.

To create a multi-project template

  1. Create the projects to include in the multi-project template.

  2. Create .vstemplate files for each of the projects. For more information, see How to: Create Project Templates and How to: Manually Create Project Templates.

  3. Create a root .vstemplate file that will contain the metadata for the multi-project template. For more information, see the first example in the following section.

  4. Select the files and folders to include in your template, right-click, select Send To, and click Compressed (zipped) Folder. The files and folders are compressed into a .zip file.

  5. Place the .zip template file in the Visual Studio project template directory. By default, this directory is My Documents\Visual Studio 2008\Templates\ProjectTemplates.

This example shows a simple multi-project root .vstemplate file. In this example, the template contains two projects, My Windows Application and My Class Library. The ProjectName attribute on the ProjectTemplateLink element sets the name for Visual Studio to assign this project. If the ProjectName attribute does not exist, the name of the .vstemplate file is used as the project name.

<VSTemplate Version="2.0.0" Type="ProjectGroup"
    xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/developer/vstemplate/2005">
    <TemplateData>
        <Name>Multi-Project Template Sample</Name>
        <Description>An example of a multi-project template</Description>
        <Icon>Icon.ico</Icon>
        <ProjectType>VisualBasic</ProjectType>
    </TemplateData>
    <TemplateContent>
        <ProjectCollection>
            <ProjectTemplateLink ProjectName="My Windows Application">
                WindowsApp\MyTemplate.vstemplate
            </ProjectTemplateLink>
            <ProjectTemplateLink ProjectName="My Class Library">
                ClassLib\MyTemplate.vstemplate
            </ProjectTemplateLink>
        </ProjectCollection>
    </TemplateContent>
</VSTemplate>

This example uses the SolutionFolder element to divide the projects into two groups, Math Classes and Graphics Classes. The template contains four projects, two of which are placed in each solution folder.

<VSTemplate Version="2.0.0" Type="ProjectGroup"
    xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/developer/vstemplate/2005">
    <TemplateData>
        <Name>Multi-Project Template Sample</Name>
        <Description>An example of a multi-project template</Description>
        <Icon>Icon.ico</Icon>
        <ProjectType>VisualBasic</ProjectType>
    </TemplateData>
    <TemplateContent>
        <ProjectCollection>
            <SolutionFolder Name="Math Classes">
                <ProjectTemplateLink ProjectName="MathClassLib1">
                    MathClassLib1\MyTemplate.vstemplate
                </ProjectTemplateLink>
                <ProjectTemplateLink ProjectName="MathClassLib2">
                    MathClassLib2\MyTemplate.vstemplate
                </ProjectTemplateLink>
            </SolutionFolder>
            <SolutionFolder Name="Graphics Classes">
                <ProjectTemplateLink ProjectName="GraphicsClassLib1">
                    GraphicsClassLib1\MyTemplate.vstemplate
                </ProjectTemplateLink>
                <ProjectTemplateLink ProjectName="GraphicsClassLib2">
                    GraphicsClassLib2\MyTemplate.vstemplate
                </ProjectTemplateLink>
            </SolutionFolder>
        </ProjectCollection>
    </TemplateContent>
</VSTemplate>

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