How to: Create Custom Prototypes from Configured Applications and Endpoints

In Application Designer, you can save and reuse configured applications and endpoints by creating custom prototypes. Custom prototypes include all the properties, configurations, settings, and constraints that these applications and endpoints include when you create custom prototypes from them. For considerations and guidelines about creating custom prototypes, see Guidelines for Creating Custom Application Prototypes.


If you only need a single copy of an application or endpoint, you can just copy it. You can also copy items between diagrams of the same type in different solutions or instances of Visual Studio. For more information, see How to: Copy Between Solutions or Instances of Visual Studio.

When you create custom prototypes, Visual Studio adds them to the Toolbox. You can also share custom prototypes with other users.

To create a custom prototype from the application diagram

  1. On the diagram, select one or more application definitions or endpoints.

  2. On the Diagram menu, click Add to Toolbox.


    You can also right-click your selection and click Add to Toolbox.

    The Add Prototype to Toolbox dialog box appears.

  3. In the Name box, name the prototype.


    Visual Studio removes any invalid characters from the prototype's name when you save it. These characters include spaces, double quotation marks (""), angle brackets (<>), forward slash (/), backward slash (\), colon (:), asterisk (*), and question mark (?). For example, if you name a prototype "My Prototype" when another prototype named "MyPrototype" already exists, Visual Studio will prompt you to overwrite the existing prototype if you save the new prototype to the same location. For more information, see Troubleshooting Extensibility Issues.

  4. To specify a different bitmap file for the prototype's toolbox icon, enter the location of the bitmap file in the Display image box. You can also click the ellipsis () button to browse for and select another bitmap file.


    Optimum specifications for bitmap images are 16 x 16 pixels with 24-bit color depth and magenta color (RGB values: 255, 0, 255), which will appear as transparent. Bitmap images that do not have these specifications will be resized.

  5. Under Add for Users, choose one of the following:

    • To add the prototype for your use only, click Add for my use only and then click OK.

      The prototype appears in the Toolbox.

    • To add the prototype for all users on your computer, click Add for all users of this computer and then click OK.


      If you are running Visual Studio on Windows Server 2003 or Windows XP, you must have at least Power User permissions to complete this task. If you are running Visual Studio on Windows Vista, you must have administrator permissions. 

    The prototype appears in the Toolbox.

Visual Studio saves the prototype as a file that has the name that you provided and an .adprototype file name extension. To share this prototype file with users not on your computer, you can export the prototype. For more information, see How to: Export Custom Prototypes from Distributed System Designers.

To import or install new prototypes, see How to: Import or Install New Custom Prototypes.


Be aware that custom prototypes might store sensitive, confidential, or proprietary data in custom settings. Custom prototypes are base 64-encoded but are not encrypted. Therefore, remember this consideration before sharing custom prototypes with other users.

See Also


Troubleshooting Extensibility Issues

How to: Define Applications on Application Diagrams

Other Resources

Extending Distributed System Designers