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How to: Creating project groups under a single solution

One of the features that I seem to miss most about working with VS.Net and working on an enterprise level application (10+ projects in the same solution) is having no folders inside the solution with which to group related projects together. For example, usually I'll have a pair of projects for each Application tier, one for unit tests and another for the tier implementation (“Dal“,“Dal.Tests“). Using such a folder scheme as mentioned above I'd have a folder under my solution called “Dal” under which these two projects will reside.
It gets more complicated when you want to include various application blocks with their code inside the solution, which in turn might be comprised of several projects on their own (the logging application block comprises 3-4 projects.ugh)  Soon the solution starts to look like a big pile of projects and you can't seem to find anything without going through hell.
Well. There's good news and good news.
The good news is that in VS.Net 2005 you get these folders.
The better news is that you don't have to wait for Vs.Net 2005 to get this functionality.
If you have VS.Net enterprise edition, you can use something called “Enterprise Template Project” to act as a project folder. To accomplish this here's how I'd create the scenario depicted above:
  • Create a new empty solution
  • Right  click on the solution and select "Add-New Project"
  • From the dialog select "Other Project Types"
  • Select the "Enterprise Template Project"
  • You get a new project with a weird icon inside your solution.
  • Now, here's the kicker: right click on your newly added project and select "Add-"
  • You get a "New project" in that menu. You've just added a "folder" to your solution.
You can add Template projects inside template projects - giving you the ability to create a very complicated and inclusive hierarchy of your enterprise solution. I've seen such a solution containing about 30 project, all grouped and named logically, and it was a breeze to navigate in.
Have fun! (Thanks for the tip, Ohad)

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