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Creating Visual Studio Templates

Visual Studio project and item templates provide reusable stubs that give users some basic code and structure that they can use for their own purposes.

A number of predefined project and item templates are installed when you install Visual Studio. The Visual Basic and Visual C# Windows Forms Application and Class Library templates that are available in the New Project dialog box are examples of project templates. Installed item templates are available in the Add New Item dialog box, and include items such as XML files, HTML pages, and Style Sheets.

These templates provide a starting point for users to begin creating projects or expanding current projects. Project templates provide the files that are required for a particular project type, include standard assembly references, and set default project properties and compiler options. Item templates can range in complexity from just one empty file that has the correct file name extension to a multi-file item that contains, for example, source code files that have stub code, designer information files, and embedded resources.

In addition to the installed templates in the New Project and Add New Item dialog boxes, you can author your own templates or download and use templates created by the community. For more information, see How to: Create Project Templates and How to: Create Item Templates.

All project and item templates, whether installed together with Visual Studio or created by you, function by using the same principles and have similar contents. All templates contain the following items:

  • The files to be created when the template is used. This includes source code files, embedded resources, project files, and so on.

  • One .vstemplate file. This file contains the metadata that provides Visual Studio the information it needs to display the template in the New Project and Add New Item dialog boxes and create a project or item from the template. For more information about .vstemplate files, see Template Parameters.

When these files are compressed into a .zip file and put in the correct folder, Visual Studio automatically displays them in the My Templates section of the New Project and Add New Item dialog boxes. For more information about template folders, see How to: Locate and Organize Project and Item Templates.

Starter Kits are enhanced templates that can be shared with other members of the community. A Starter Kit includes code samples that compile, documentation, and other resources to help users learn new tools and programming techniques while they build useful, real-world applications. The basic contents and procedures for Starter Kits are identical to those for templates. For more information, see How to: Create Starter Kits.

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