An easier way to Create SharePoint Feature Solutions

If you're developing Features for SharePoint then you will have discovered what a laborious process it is getting from the compiled dll, Feature.xml etc in Visual Studio to a deployed Feature in your SharePoint Dev environment. The least painful way I have of doing this so far is to make sure the directory structure of my solution matches that of the SharePoint Root Files directory, and then to use a batch file called after successful compilation that GAC's the dll, XCopy's the files in my feature to the SharePoint directory, and optionally builds the .wsp. This works but is still quite painful.

A colleague pointed me to a proof-of-concept by renowned SharePoint guru and Microsoft MVP Tedd Pattison called STSDEV on codeplex. (I've been to two of Ted's SharePoint classes - this one and this one - and I can't recommend them highly enough.) The tool he created simplifies this process even more by providing a tool you can install and call from the VS2005/8 "Tools" menu that prompts you to create one of a variety of Solution types - like Feature Solution, Web Part solution, etc. - in VS2005 or VS2008. The solution generated sets everything up for you and includes build targets (i.e. alternatives to the default "Debug" and "Release") that will build the solution, make the wsp, and install it on the SharePoint server! So the same end result is achieved but with a lot less batch files. If you do any SharePoint development, this tool is well worth a look.