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Introduction to Solutions, Projects, and Items

To efficiently manage the items that are required by your development effort, such as references, data connections, folders, and files, Visual Studio .NET provides two containers: solutions and projects. An interface for viewing and managing these containers and their associated items, Solution Explorer, is provided as part of the integrated development environment (IDE).

Containers: Solutions and Projects

Solutions and projects contain items that represent the references, data connections, folders, and files that you need to create your application. A solution container can contain multiple projects and a project container typically contains multiple items. Using these containers, you can take advantage of the integrated development environment in the following ways:

  • Manage settings for your solution as a whole or for individual projects
  • Use Solution Explorer to handle the details of file management while you focus on items that make up your development effort
  • Add items that are useful to multiple projects in the solution or to the solution without referencing the item in each project
  • Work on miscellaneous files that are independent from solutions or projects

Items: Files, References, Data Connections

Items can be files and other parts of your project such as references, data connections, or folders. In Solution Explorer, items can be organized in the following ways:

  • As project items, which are items that comprise your project, such as forms, source files, and classes within a project in Solution Explorer. The organization and display depends on the project template you select as well as any modifications you make.
  • As solution items for files that are applicable to your solution as a whole in the Solution Items folder of Solution Explorer.
  • As miscellaneous files for actual files that are not associated with either a project or a solution and can be displayed in a Miscellaneous File folder.

For more detailed information or to learn to use Solution Explorer, see the following topics:

For more information about See
Solutions and Projects Solutions as Containers

Projects as Containers

Performing common file management tasks Managing Solutions, Projects, and Files
Solutions and Directory Structures Creating Directories for Solutions
Solution Explorer in the integrated development environment (IDE) Solution Explorer
Managing multiple projects in a solution Multi-Project Solutions
Project-independent items that are referenced by multiple projects and included in solution builds Solution Items
Solution-related user interface elements in the IDE Solutions, User Interface Elements
Working outside projects and solutions Miscellaneous Files

See Also

Managing Solutions, Projects, and Files | Solution Explorer | Upgrading Existing Code | What's New in Visual Studio .NET