Chapter 14. Code Generation with T4


  • Using T4 templates to generate text and code

  • Troubleshooting T4 templates

  • Creating Preprocessed T4 template to include templating in your projects

Frequently, when writing software applications you will come across large areas of boilerplate code in which the same pattern is repeated over and over. Working on these areas of code can be time-consuming and tedious, which leads to inattention and easily avoidable errors. Writing this code is a task best suited to automation.

Code generation is a common software engineering practice where some mechanism, rather than a human engineer, is used to write program components automatically. The tool used to generate the code is known as a code generator. A number of commercial and free code generators are available in the market from the very general in nature to those that are targeted toward a very specific task.

Visual Studio 2010 includes a code generator that can generate files from simple template definitions. This code generator is known as the Text Template Transformation Toolkit, or more commonly, T4.

T4 was originally introduced as part of the Domain Specific Languages Toolkit, which was an add-in for Visual Studio 2005. T4 was included out of the box in Visual Studio 2008 but it was poorly documented and there were very few hints in the IDE that it existed. Visual Studio 2010 makes T4 a first-class citizen so that Text Template is now one of the options in the File

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