Generating Page Layouts from Content Types was one of the functionalities of Imtech Fields Explorer – a tool that I’ve built for MOSS 2007. With the new Visual Studio SharePoint development tools there is no need for yet another tool in your toolbox. Imtech Fields Explorer will eventually be fully integrated in the SharePoint Server Explorer.
How many times were you working with Lookup Fields and just when you were about to pick a value, you found out that it’s not there. How many clicks did you have to make to get to the Lookup List, add the new Lookup Item, get back to where you were first and add your item? While it sounds trivial, it’s the only way things can be done in out of the box SharePoint. You could of course create a whole new Custom Field Type which would contain an “Add new item” link, but there is an easier way to get this done.
SharePoint ships with the SPBuiltInFieldId class which allows you to access the ID’s of all the out-of-the-box available fields using intellisense. This is very important in scenarios when your solution heavy relies on custom development and working with list items. The SPBuiltInFieldId class makes working with Content Types and Columns easier: instead of typing the names you can use the Properties of the SPBuiltInFieldId and get to all the standard SharePoint fields using intellisense.
Recently I wrote an article about automating the generation of the DDF files used to package SharePoint Solutions. In my example I used a custom Visual Studio T4 template to generate the DDF file. As a scenario I used a Web Content Management (WCM) solution, which contained a lot of assets to be provisioned to SharePoint. While working with WCM solutions generating and maintaining the DDF files is not the only challenge. As all the different assets are being provisioned using Features you also have to maintain two more files: Feature.xml and Elements.xml. Once again the T4 templates can help you get the job done.
Packaging solutions built on the SharePoint platform into WSP packages has proven to be the way to deploy your work in a structured and repeatable manner. While there are many different tools available which can support you in packaging your work, there are scenarios when they are not sufficient. As some of the tools are open source you could modify them to fit your requirements but did you know that Visual Studio can help you with creating WSP files?