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How to: Create Multi-file Item Templates

Item templates may only specify one item, but sometimes the item is made up of multiple files. For example, Windows Forms item templates require the following three files:

  • A .vb file that contains the code for the form.

  • A .designer.vb file that contains the designer information for the form.

  • A .resx file that contains the embedded resources for the form.

Multi-file item templates require parameters to ensure the correct file name extensions are used when the item is created in Visual Studio. If you create an item template by using the Export Template wizard, these parameters are automatically generated, and no further editing is required. The following steps explain how to use parameters to ensure that the correct file name extensions are created.

To manually create a multi-file item template

  1. Create the item template as you would create a single-file item template. For more information, see How to: Manually Create Item Templates.

  2. Add TargetFileName attributes to every ProjectItem element. Set the values of the TargetFileName attributes to $fileinputname$.FileExtension, where FileExtension is the file name extension of the file that is being included in the template. For example:

    <ProjectItem TargetFileName="$fileinputname$.vb">
        Form1.vb
    </ProjectItem>
    <ProjectItem TargetFileName="$fileinputname$.Designer.vb">
        Form1.Designer.vb
    </ProjectItem>
    <ProjectItem TargetFileName="$fileinputname$.resx">
        Form1.resx
    </ProjectItem>
    

    When an item derived from this template is added to a project, the file names will be based on the name that the user typed in the Add New Item dialog box.

  3. Select the files to be included in your template, right-click the selection, click Send To, and then click Compressed (zipped) Folder. The files that you selected are compressed into a .zip file.

  4. Put the .zip file in the user item template location. By default, the directory is \My Documents\Visual Studio 2010\Templates\ItemTemplates\. For more information, see How to: Locate and Organize Project and Item Templates.

The following example shows a Visual Studio Windows Forms template. When an item is created based on this template, the names of the three files created will match the name entered in the Add New Item dialog box.

<VSTemplate Version="2.0.0" Type="Item"
    xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/developer/vstemplate/2005">
    <TemplateData>
        <Name>Multi-file Item Template</Name>
        <Icon>Icon.ico</Icon>
        <Description>An example of a multi-file item template</Description>
        <ProjectType>VisualBasic</ProjectType>
    </TemplateData>
    <TemplateContent>
        <ProjectItem TargetFileName="$fileinputname$.vb" SubType="Form">
            Form1.vb
        </ProjectItem>
        <ProjectItem TargetFileName="$fileinputname$.Designer.vb">
            Form1.Designer.vb
        </ProjectItem>
        <ProjectItem TargetFileName="$fileinputname$.resx">
            Form1.resx
        </ProjectItem>
    </TemplateContent>
</VSTemplate>
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