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Managing your projects overview

When you are working in Microsoft® Expression Blend™, you'll notice that all of your files are organized into a single project folder. This project system helps you to manage all of your working files and references in an efficient way, keeping them all in a local folder tree within the Project panel.

The project system also makes it easy to test just a startup document or an entire project, and then build the project to a specific location when you are ready. The final product that you produce after you've built the project will be a standard Windows®-based application.

Working with your project

Just as Web documents are based on unique markup languages such as HTML, Expression Blend documents are also based on a unique markup language, Extensible Application Markup Language (XAML). In Expression Blend you can create new XAML documents, open, save, and delete existing documents, and even copy and rename documents, just as you can in many other applications. Expression Blend also provides basic project recovery functionality and the ability to discard projects. You can accomplish most document-related tasks by using the commands that are located on the File, Edit, and Project menus. You can even right-click documents in the Project panel and perform basic tasks quickly by using the context menu. Expression Blend creates a .csproj or .vbproj file for your project by default, but also supports Microsoft® Visual Studio® solution files (.sln). For a roadmap of the Project panel, see Project panel.

References folder   The References folder is used to store assemblies such as dlls and executables. An assembly might be a user control .dll that you created in Expression Blend, a .NET Framework custom control, or a compatible COM component. For more information, see Add or remove a reference.
Resource dictionaries   Resource dictionaries contain re-usable resources such as brush colors, styles and templates for controls, and other data types that can be assigned to a property. Resource dictionaries are linked to your project by dictionary references in the App.xaml file or in another resource dictionary file. For more information, see Create, export, or import a resource dictionary and Resources overview. A resource dictionary is just one type of XAML document that you can author in Expression Blend. Additional XAML documents include windows, pages, and user controls.
Local item   When you add a new or existing item to a project, the item will appear in the Files list. Items include XAML documents, images, audio files, video files, 3D objects, 3D materials files, and so on. XAML documents are created and added to your project using New Item on the File menu. Existing files are added to your project using Add Existing Item on the Project menu. For more information, see Create a new document or project, Add, link to, or remove an existing item from a project, or Add an image, audio, or video file to a project.
Link to item   You can link to existing items that don't live locally in your project folder but are stored elsewhere. Items include XAML documents, images, audio files, video files, 3D objects, 3D materials files, and so on. A linked item is identified by an arrow superimposed over the file icon Linked item identifier in the Files list. For more information, see Add, link to, or remove an existing item from a project.
Code file (.cs or .vb)   The code-behind file for a XAML document. A code file will always show as a child item under its respective XAML document. You can create a code file for a XAML document each time you create a new XAML document by selecting the Include code file check box in the Add New Item dialog box. Code-behind files are typically used to run a procedure that involves more than setting a property or controlling an animation timeline (which can be done without code in your XAML document). For example, in a code-behind file, you can add other programming logic such as setting a property on another object, loading a new document, creating a new object, using a mathematical calculation to animate an object, and so on. For information about working with code-behind files, see Edit a code-behind file and Create a new event handler method. For a comparison of what can be done with and without code, see Code editing and Visual Studio 2005 interoperability.
App.xaml   An App.xaml file and corresponding code-behind file are created by default in an Expression Blend project. The App.xaml file contains application-level resources that can be used in any document in your application. Application-level resources are listed in the Resources panel under the App.xaml node. You can add resources to the App.xaml file by selecting Application in the Create Resource window. For more information, see Resources overview and Create a resource.
AssemblyInfo.cs   An AssemblyInfo.cs file is created by default in an Expression Blend project. The AssemblyInfo.cs file contains settings for your project that are used when compiling your application. Do not modify the AssemblyInfo.cs file.
Alert! It is important to note that managing your project files requires some diligence, because renaming and moving documents and items within your project folder can lead to broken links and references. For this version of Expression Blend, practice keeping renaming and moving tasks to a minimum and remember that if you do rename or move an item or reference, you'll need to manually update all references to those renamed or moved items and references to ensure that your project works as expected.
Do not rename or delete the App.xaml files or the AssemblyInfo.cs file.

Project options

You can configure the following options in the Project tab of the Options dialog box (Tools menu). These options affect the creation of new projects in Expression Blend:

Project recovery

If the Expression Blend process is interrupted while you are working on a temporary project, you will be given an opportunity to recover your project the next time you open Expression Blend. A Project Recovery dialog box will appear, with the following options:

Testing and building your project

Expression Blend provides basic testing functionality so that you can test individual XAML documents or your project before you build. The Expression Blend build process uses the new Microsoft build platform, MSBuild. MSBuild defines both what you’re going to be building as well as how you’re going to be building it. For more information about MSBuild, see the MSBuild Overview on MSDN. Signing and other release-related tasks such as debugging, securing, and deploying your project need to be managed through Visual Studio or Visual Studio Express. See the following topics for more information about these tasks: