Creating Item Templates and Project Templates for SharePoint Project Items

When you define a custom SharePoint project item type, you can associate it with an item template or a project template so that other developers can use the project item in Visual Studio. You can also create a wizard for the template.

For example, Visual Studio 2010 does not include a project template or item template for adding a field to a SharePoint site. You can define a SharePoint project item type that represents a field and then construct an item template that other developers can use to add the field item to a SharePoint project. Or, you can construct a project template so that developers can create a new SharePoint project that contains the field item. In both cases, you can also provide a wizard that appears when developers use your template. This wizard can collect information from developers to configure the new item or project.

Item templates and project templates are .zip files that contain files that are used by Visual Studio to create a project item or project. For more information about the fundamentals of item templates and project templates, see Introduction to Visual Studio Templates.

When you create an item template for a SharePoint project item, there are some files that are always required, and optional files that might be used by certain types of project items. For a walkthrough that demonstrates how to define a SharePoint project item type and create an item template for it, see Walkthrough: Creating a Custom Action Project Item with an Item Template, Part 1.

The following table lists the required files to create an item template for a SharePoint project item.

Required file

Description

An .spdata file

This is an XML file that specifies the contents and default behavior of the project item. This file must be included in the item template. For more information about the contents of .spdata files, see SharePoint Project Item Schema Reference.

A .vstemplate file.

This file provides Visual Studio with the information required to display the template in the Add New Item dialog box and to create a project item from the template. This file must be included in the item template. For more information, see Visual Studio Template Metadata Files.

A Visual Studio extension assembly that implements the ISharePointProjectItemTypeProvider interface.

This assembly defines the run time behavior of the project item. This assembly must be included in the VSIX package with the item template. For more information, see Defining Custom SharePoint Project Item Types and Deploying Extensions for the SharePoint Tools in Visual Studio.

The following table lists some of the most common optional files that can be included in the item template. Some types of project items might require other files not listed here.

Optional File

Description

Elements.xml

A Feature element file. This file defines the UI and behavior of the customization created by the project item. Each type of customization, such as list instances, content types, or custom actions, has a different schema that defines the contents of this file. For more information, see Building Block: Features and Feature Schemas.

Schema.xml

The schema file for list definitions. For more information, see Building Block: Lists and Document Libraries and Schema.xml.

.webpart

A Web Part definition file. This file contains property settings for a Web Part. For more information, see Building Block: Web Parts.

.ascx

An ASP.NET UserControl file. This file defines the UI of a Visual Web Part.

.aspx

An ASP.NET page file. This file contains XML markup that defines an application page.

.cs or .vb files

These code files define the behavior of SharePoint customizations that have a programming model that can be accessed from Visual C# or Visual Basic code, such as application pages, Web parts, and workflows.

When you create a SharePoint project template, there are some files that are always required, and optional files that might be used by certain types of projects. Typically, SharePoint projects include at least one SharePoint project item. However, this is not required. For example, you could define a SharePoint project template that is intended to be used only to deploy SharePoint solutions created in other projects.

For a walkthrough that demonstrates how to define a SharePoint project item type and create a project template for it, see Walkthrough: Creating a Site Column Project Item with a Project Template, Part 1.

The following table lists the files that must be included in a SharePoint project template.

Required file

Description

A .vstemplate file

This file provides Visual Studio with the information required to display the template in the New Project dialog box and to create a project from the template. For more information, see Visual Studio Template Metadata Files.

A csproj or .vbproj file

This is the project file. It defines the contents and configuration settings of the project.

Package.package

This file defines the deployment package for the project. When you use the Package Designer to customize the solution package for your project, Visual Studio stores data about the solution package in this file.

When you create a custom SharePoint project template, we recommend that you include only the minimum required content in the Package.package file, and that you configure the solution package by using the APIs in the Microsoft.VisualStudio.SharePoint.Packages namespace in an extension that is associated with the project template. If you do this, your project template is protected from future changes to the structure of the Package.package file. For an example that demonstrates how to create a Package.package file with only the minimum required content, see Walkthrough: Creating a Site Column Project Item with a Project Template, Part 1.

If you want to modify the Package.package file directly, you can verify the contents by using the schema at %Program Files (x86)%\Microsoft Visual Studio 10.0\Xml\Schemas\PackageModelSchema.xsd.

Package.Template.xml

This file provides the basis for the solution manifest file (manifest.xml) for the SharePoint solution package (.wsp) that is generated from the project. You can add content to this file if you want to specify some behavior that is not intended to be changed by users of your project type. For more information, see Building Block: Solutions and Solution Schema.

When you build a solution package from the project, Visual Studio merges the contents of the Package.package and the Package.Template.xml files into the solution manifest file. For more information about building solution packages, see How to: Create a SharePoint Solution Package in Visual Studio.

The following table lists the optional files that can be included in the project template.

Optional file

Description

SharePoint project items

You can include one or more .spdata files that define SharePoint project item types. Each .spdata file must have a matching ISharePointProjectItemTypeProvider implementation in an extension assembly that is included in the VSIX package with the project template. For more information, see Creating Item Templates.

Typically, SharePoint projects include at least one SharePoint project item. However, this is not required.

featureName.feature

This file defines a SharePoint Feature that is used to group several project items for deployment. When you use the Feature Designer to customize a Feature in your project, Visual Studio stores data about the Feature in this file. If you want to group the project items into different Features, you can include multiple .feature files.

When you create a custom SharePoint project template, we recommend that you include only the minimum required content in each .feature file, and that you configure Features by using the APIs in the Microsoft.VisualStudio.SharePoint.Features namespace in an extension that is associated with the project template. If you do this, your project template is protected from future changes to the structure of the .feature file. For an example that demonstrates how to create a .feature file with only the minimum required content, see Walkthrough: Creating a Site Column Project Item with a Project Template, Part 1.

If you want to modify a .feature file directly, you can verify the contents by using the schema at %Program Files (x86)%\Microsoft Visual Studio 10.0\Xml\Schemas\FeatureModelSchema.xsd.

featureName.Template.xml

This file provides the basis for the feature manifest file (Feature.xml) for each Feature that is generated from the project. You can add content to this file if you want to specify some behavior that is not intended to be changed by users of your project type. For more information, see Building Block: Features and Feature.xml Files.

When you build a solution package from the project, Visual Studio merges the contents of each pair of featureName.feature file and featureName.Template.xml files into a feature manifest file. For more information about building solution packages, see How to: Create a SharePoint Solution Package in Visual Studio.

After you define a SharePoint project item type and associate it with an item or project template, you can also create a wizard. The wizard displays when a developer uses the item template to add the SharePoint project item to a project, or when a developer uses the project template to create a new project that contains the SharePoint project item. The wizard can be used to collect information from developers and to initialize the new SharePoint project item.

For walkthroughs that demonstrate how to create wizards for item templates and project templates, see Walkthrough: Creating a Custom Action Project Item with an Item Template, Part 2 and Walkthrough: Creating a Site Column Project Item with a Project Template, Part 2.

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