Microsoft announced the release of the final RTW (release to web) version of the Web Deployment Projects add-in for Visual Studio 2008, available at the Microsoft Download Center. Web Deployment Projects are used not only to package pre-compiled ASP.NET Web Sites, ASP.NET Web Application Project can be packages as well. Unlike the built-in Visual Studio Web Setup Project, Web Deployment Projects are compiled with MSBuild. Besides marrying the capabilities of MSBuild this eliminates the need to call devenv.exe from an automated build process. ScottGu’s original tutorial offers a popular getting started guide. It provides both a step-by-step example, as well as the origin and the feature of the add-in.
This release includes an upgrade wizard to migrate from the 2005 version. It also adds the ability to create IIS Applications. It is mostly a maintenance release keep up with the new releases of Visual Studio 2008 and IIS7.
The anouncement did have one interesting twist: The core of the add-in is a console application, aspnet_merge.exe, which is useful in build scripting. Due to community feedback the console app has been released independently of the VS add-in. It is now included in the Microsoft Windows Software Development Kit (SDK) for Windows Server® 2008 and .NET Framework 3.5.