As part of their job, software architects often try to establish best practices for developers working on a project within an organization. Recently released Guidance Automation Extensions (GAX) for Visual Studio help architects and teams achieve this goal. The extensions can be downloaded from MSDN.
Atop GAX runs the Guidance Automation Toolkit (GAT),l also downloadable. This is described as a package that enables architects to create reusable assets including Software Factories, frameworks, and patterns. The resulting templates and wizards help developers “build solutions in a way consistent with the architecture guidance,” according to posted material on the MSDN site.
Key parts of the toolkit include:
Recipes. These automate activities usually performed manually;
Actions. These are atomic units of work called in a defined sequence by recipes;
Text Template Transformation Templates. Such templates combine text and scriptlets that, when run, return a string that is directly inserted into the output stream of the template;
Type Converters that validate the value of a field and convert this from its user interface representation to a type representation; and
Visual Studio Templates. These can be associated with recipes, are written in XML, and can be expanded by the Visual Studio template engine.
GAX and GAT must be downloaded and installed separately, notes Microsoft blogger Grigori Melnik. GAT requires that GAX is installed first.