Tuesday, September 05, 2006

"Just like CodeSmith, only more complicated"

That's my initial response to Microsoft's Guidance Automation Toolkit. It combines Visual Studio add-ins with code templates that look remarkably like CodeSmith's. Programming of "recipes" is done with an XML-based declaration language. "Actions" encapsulate project and project item manipulation as well as code generation from the previously mentioned templates. Wizards organize it all for the user. Declarations in an xml configuration file add commands to the familiar project and item context menus. It's completely extensible, too.

Getting into it is more difficult than it should be, since the available labs aren't from the final version of the product and don't always match the sample files you're supposed to manipulate. Some of the best stuff -- the actions to generate and insert code from templates -- isn't documented at all. But it's worth working with. It brings the promise of integrating your architecture standards and your preferred formats for boilerplate code into the Visual Studio environment for others to use.

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