Guidance Automation

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patterns & practices Developer Center

patterns & practices Developer Center

Last updated May 2010

Guidance automation makes it easier to reuse code-based assets and practices by providing a predictable way of packaging and deploying them in Visual Studio. Examples of guidance automation include:

  • Capturing data with a wizard and generating source code from templates
  • Unfolding customized solution structures for specific application types
  • Adding custom, template-based items to projects

Guidance automation happens with the help of some software infrastructure—in the form of libraries and toolkits—installed as Visual Studio extensions.

The Guidance Automation Extensions (GAX) acts as a host to specific kinds of Visual Studio extensions, called Guidance Packages. GAX provides a library called the Recipe Framework that simplifies the creation of Guidance Packages and is part of their runtime environment. Therefore, to use Guidance Packages, you must first install GAX. If you are interested in creating Guidance Packages, you will want to learn more about the Guidance Automation Toolkit (GAT).

The Guidance Automation Toolkit is itself a Guidance Package that is used to create other Guidance Packages. Guidance Packages built with the latest release—GAT 2010—are deployed by using the new VSIX deployment mechanism. This means that you can share a Guidance Package with others by deploying the VSIX file in the Visual Studio Gallery or by deploying directly to your teammates.

Current Releases

Guidance Automation for Visual Studio 2010

Guidance Automation for Visual Studio 2008 and Visual Studio 2005


The Guidance Automation Toolkit is supported through Guidance Automation Toolkit Forum on MSDN.

patterns & practices Developer Center