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Introduction to the Guidance Automation Toolkit

Introduction to the Guidance Automation Toolkit

Using the patterns & practices of the Guidance Automation Toolkit, you can make reusable code and pattern assets directly available in Visual Studio 2005.
The toolkit is designed to simplify integrating reusable code into applications allowing architects to automate development activities that developers would usually have to perform manually; often by following a series of instructions. By using the toolkit, architects can also ensure that repetitive and often error-prone activities are performed in a consistent manner, streamlining and accelerating the development process.
The toolkit can be used with assets developed in-house or by third parties; such as the assets created by the Microsoft patterns & practices team. These assets can be exposed to developers within Visual Studio, and in some cases, configured by using configuration files, templates, and wizards.
Installing the Guidance Automation Toolkit

To work with the Guidance Automation Toolkit, you must first install a prerequisite run-time component named the Guidance Automation Extensions. Once the run-time component is installed, you can download and install the Guidance Automation Toolkit. For more information, see Guidance Automation Toolkit and Guidance Automation Extensions Download.
Understanding the Guidance Automation Toolkit
The Guidance Automation Toolkit consists of a series of elements that work together to provide automation functionality, including:
Recipes Recipes automate activities that developers would usually perform manually, often by following a series of instructions. You can use recipes to ensure that repetitive and often error-prone activities are performed in a consistent manner and to simplify complex or repetitive development tasks. Recipes can be run on particular solution elements, or on a group of solution elements that share certain characteristics (for example, all C# projects).
Actions Actions are atomic units of work called in a defined sequence by recipes. The sequence is specified in the recipe definition. An action accepts input either from arguments that have been gathered by the calling recipes or from output received from an action run earlier in the sequence. Recipe actions are specified in the recipe definition.
Text Template Transformation Templates A Text Template Transformation template consists of a combination of text and scriptlets. Scriptlets are expressions in Visual Basic or C# that when run, return a string that is directly inserted into the output stream of the template. Templates are expanded by the Text Template Transformation engine included with the Guidance Automation Toolkit. Text is inserted unmodified into the template output.
Wizards Wizards are value gathering strategies used to gather values from recipe arguments. Any recipe can have a wizard associated with it. A wizard walks the developer through one or more steps, which are displayed as pages of the wizard.
Type Converters Type converters validate the value of a field and convert them from their user interface representation to a type representation
Visual Studio Templates Visual Studio templates are written in XML and are used by Visual Studio to create solutions or add one or more projects or items to an existing solution. The templates are expanded by the Visual Studio template engine. Using the Guidance Automation Toolkit, you can associate Visual Studio templates with recipes. This association means that when a template is unfolded, the wizard extension calls the recipe to let it collect parameter values (arguments) for the expansion and then, after the template is unfolded, to execute actions that may further transform solution items created by the template.
Each of these elements is collected together along with a configuration file into Guidance Packages, which are packaged and then installed as a unit. These Guidance Packages can be managed using Guidance Package Manager in Visual Studio 2005. Once a Guidance Package is installed and enabled for a particular solution, recipes can be executed to carry out the required tasks.
Guidance Package Development
To help you with Guidance Package development, the Guidance Automation Toolkit includes a Guidance Package Development Template, which unfolds to create a solution for Guidance Package development. This solution includes the elements you need to create your own Guidance Package; so you can modify these or create your own using them as a guideline. The Guidance Automation Toolkit also includes extensive documentation that guides you through the Guidance Package development process.

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