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How to: Use Wizards with Project Templates


This article applies to Visual Studio 2015. If you're looking for the latest Visual Studio documentation, see Visual Studio documentation. We recommend upgrading to the latest version of Visual Studio. Download it here

Visual Studio provides the IWizard interface that, when implemented, enables you to run custom code when a user creates a project from a template.

Project template customization can be used to display custom UI that collects user input to customize the template, add additional files to the template, or any other action allowed on a project.

The IWizard interface methods are called at various times while the project is being created, starting as soon as a user clicks OK on the New Project dialog box. Each method of the interface is named to describe the point at which it is called. For example, Visual Studio calls RunStarted immediately when it starts to create the project, making it a good location to write custom code to collect user input.

Creating a Project Template Project with a VSIX Project

You start creating a custom template with the project template project., which is part of the Visual Studio SDK. In this procedure we will use a C# project template project, but there is also a Visual Basic project template project. Then you add a VSIX project to the solution that contains the project template project.

  1. Create a C# project template project (in Visual Studio, File / New / Project / Visual C# / Extensibility / C# Project Template). Name it MyProjectTemplate.


    You may be asked to install the Visual Studio SDK. For more information, see Installing the Visual Studio SDK.

  2. Add a new VSIX project (File / New / Project / Visual C# / Extensibility / VSIX Project) in the same solution as the project template project (in the Solution Explorer, select the solution node, right-click, and select Add / New Project). Name it MyProjectWizard.

  3. Set the VSIX project as the startup project. In the Solution Explorer, select the solution node, right-click, and select Set as Startup Project.

  4. Add the template project as an asset of the VSIX project. In the Solution Explorer, under the VSIX project node, find the source.extension.vsixmanifest file. Double-click it to open it in the manifest editor.

  5. In the manifest editor, select the Assets tab on the left side of the window.

  6. In the Assets tab, select New. In the Add New Asset window, for the Type field, select Microsoft.VisualStudio.ProjectTemplate. In the Source field, select A project in current solution. In the Project field, select MyProjectTemplate. Then click OK.

  7. Build the solution and start debugging. A second instance of Visual Studio appears. (This may take a few minutes.)

  8. In the second instance of Visual Studio, try to create a new project with your new template. (File / New / Project / Visual C# / MyProject Template). The new project should appear with a class named Class1. You have now created a custom project template! Stop debugging now.

Creating a Custom Template Wizard

This topic shows how to create a custom wizard that opens a Windows Form before the project is created. The form allows users to add a custom parameter value that is added to the source code during project creation.

  1. Set up the VSIX project to allow it to create an assembly.

  2. In the Solution Explorer, select the VSIX project node. Below the Solution Explorer, you should see the Properties window. If you do not, select View / Properties Window, or press F4. In the Properties window, select the following fields to true:

    • IncludeAssemblyInVSIXContainer

    • IncludeDebugSymbolsInVSIXContainer

    • IncludeDebugSymbolsInLocalVSIXDeployment

  3. Add the assembly as an asset to the VSIX project. Open the source.extension.vsixmanifest file and select the Assets tab. In the Add New Asset window, for Type select Microsoft.VisualStudio.Assembly, for Source select A project in current solution, and for Project select MyTemplateWizard.

  4. Add the following references to the VSIX project. (In the Solution Explorer, under the VSIX project node select References, right-click, and select Add Reference.) In the Add Reference dialog, in the Framework tab, find the System.Windows Forms assembly and select it. Now select the Extensions tab. find the EnvDTE assembly and select it. Also find the Microsoft.VisualStudio.TemplateWizardInterface assembly and select it. Click OK.

  5. Add a class for the wizard implementation to the VSIX project. (In the Solution Explorer, right-click the VSIX project node and select Add, then New Item, then Class.) Name the class WizardImplementation.

  6. Replace the code in the WizardImplementationClass.cs file with the following code:

    using System;  
    using System.Collections.Generic;  
    using Microsoft.VisualStudio.TemplateWizard;  
    using System.Windows.Forms;  
    using EnvDTE;  
    namespace MyProjectWizard  
        public class WizardImplementation:IWizard  
            private UserInputForm inputForm;  
            private string customMessage;  
            // This method is called before opening any item that   
            // has the OpenInEditor attribute.  
            public void BeforeOpeningFile(ProjectItem projectItem)  
            public void ProjectFinishedGenerating(Project project)  
            // This method is only called for item templates,  
            // not for project templates.  
            public void ProjectItemFinishedGenerating(ProjectItem   
            // This method is called after the project is created.  
            public void RunFinished()  
            public void RunStarted(object automationObject,  
                Dictionary<string, string> replacementsDictionary,  
                WizardRunKind runKind, object[] customParams)  
                    // Display a form to the user. The form collects   
                    // input for the custom message.  
                    inputForm = new UserInputForm();  
                    customMessage = UserInputForm.CustomMessage;  
                    // Add custom parameters.  
                catch (Exception ex)  
            // This method is only called for item templates,  
            // not for project templates.  
            public bool ShouldAddProjectItem(string filePath)  
                return true;  

    The UserInputForm referenced in this code will be implemented later.

    The WizardImplementation class contains method implementations for every member of IWizard. In this example, only the RunStarted method performs a task. All other methods either do nothing or return true.

    The RunStarted method accepts four parameters:

    • An Object parameter that can be cast to the root _DTE object, to enable you to customize the project.

    • A Dictionary<TKey,TValue> parameter that contains a collection of all pre-defined parameters in the template. For more information on template parameters, see Template Parameters.

    • A WizardRunKind parameter that contains information about what kind of template is being used.

    • An Object array that contains a set of parameters passed to the wizard by Visual Studio.

      This example adds a parameter value from the user input form to the Dictionary<TKey,TValue> parameter. Every instance of the $custommessage$ parameter in the project will be replaced with the text entered by the user. You must add the following assemblies to your project:

  7. Now create the UserInputForm. In the WizardImplementation.cs file, add the following code after the end of the WizardImplementation class.

    public partial class UserInputForm : Form  
            private static string customMessage;  
            private TextBox textBox1;  
            private Button button1;  
            public UserInputForm()  
                this.Size = new System.Drawing.Size(155, 265);   
                button1 = new Button();  
                button1.Location = new System.Drawing.Point(90, 25);  
                button1.Size = new System.Drawing.Size(50, 25);  
                button1.Click += button1_Click;  
                textBox1 = new TextBox();  
                textBox1.Location = new System.Drawing.Point(10, 25);  
                textBox1.Size = new System.Drawing.Size(70, 20);  
            public static string CustomMessage  
                    return customMessage;  
                    customMessage = value;  
            private void button1_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)  
                customMessage = textBox1.Text;  

    The user input form provides a simple form for entering a custom parameter. The form contains a text box named textBox1 and a button named button1. When the button is clicked, the text from the text box is stored in the customMessage parameter.

Connect the Wizard to the Custom Template

In order for your custom project template to use your custom wizard, you need to sign the wizard assembly and add some lines to your custom project template to let it know where to find the wizard implementation when a new project is created.

  1. Sign the assembly. In the Solution Explorer, select the VSIX project, right-click, and select Project Properties.

  2. In the Project Properties window, select the Signing tab. in the Signing tab, check Sign the assembly. In the Choose a strong name key file field, select <New>. In the Create Strong Name Key window, in the Key file name field, type key.snk. Uncheck the Protect my key file with a password field.

  3. In the Solution Explorer, select the VSIX project and find the Properties window.

  4. Set the Copy Build Output to Output Directory field to true. This allows the assembly to be copied into the output directory when the solution is rebuilt. It is still contained in the .vsix file. You need to see the assembly in order to find out its signing key.

  5. Rebuild the solution.

  6. You can now find the key.snk file in the MyProjectWizard project directory (<your disk location>\MyProjectTemplate\MyProjectWizard\key.snk). Copy the key.snk file.

  7. Go to the output directory and find the assembly (<your disk location>\MyProjectTemplate/MyProjectWizard\bin\Debug\MyProjectWizard.dll). Paste the key.snk file here. (This isn't absolutely necessary, but it will make the following steps easier.)

  8. Open a command window, and change to the directory in which the assembly has been created.

  9. Find the sn.exe signing tool. For example, on a Windows 10 64-bit operating system, a typical path would be the following:

    C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SDKs\Windows\v10.0A\bin\NETFX 4.6.1 Tools

    If you can't find the tool, try running where /R . sn.exe in the command window. Make a note of the path.

  10. Extract the public key from the key.snk file. In the command window, type

    <location of sn.exe>\sn.exe - p key.snk outfile.key.

    Don't forget to surround the path of sn.exe with quotation marks if there are spaces in the directory names!

  11. Get the public key token from the outfile:

    <location of sn.exe>\sn.exe - t outfile.key.

    Again, don't forget the quotation marks. You should see a line in the output like this

    Public key token is <token>

    Make a note of this value.

  12. Add the reference to the custom wizard to the .vstemplate file of the project template. In the Solution Explorer, find the file named MyProjectTemplate.vstemplate, and open it. After the end of the <TemplateContent> section, add the following section:

        <Assembly>MyProjectWizard, Version=, Culture=Neutral, PublicKeyToken=token</Assembly>  

    Where MyProjectWizard is the name of the assembly, and token is the token you copied in the previous step.

  13. Save all the files in the project and rebuild.

Adding the Custom Parameter to the Template

In this example, the project used as the template displays the message specified in the user input form of the custom wizard.

  1. In the Solution Explorer, go to the MyProjectTemplate project and open Class1.cs.

  2. In the Main method of the application, add the following line of code.


    The parameter $custommessage$ is replaced with the text entered in the user input form when a project is created from the template.

    Here is the full code file before it has been exported to a template.

using System;  
using System.Collections.Generic;  
$if$ ($targetframeworkversion$ >= 3.5)using System.Linq;  
$endif$using System.Text;  
namespace $safeprojectname$  
    public class Class1  
          static void Main(string[] args)  

Using the Custom Wizard

Now you can create a project from your template and use the custom wizard.

  1. Rebuild the solution and start debugging. A second instance of Visual Studio should appear.

  2. Create a new MyProjectTemplate project. (File / New / Project / Visual C# / MyProjectTemplate)

  3. In the New Project dialog box, locate your template, type a name, and click OK.

    The wizard user input form opens.

  4. Type a value for the custom parameter and click the button.

    The wizard user input form closes, and a project is created from the template.

  5. In Solution Explorer, right-click the source code file and click View Code.

    Notice that $custommessage$ has been replaced with the text entered in the wizard user input form.

See Also

Customizing Templates
WizardExtension Element (Visual Studio Templates)