How to get Solution Explorer in Visual Studio 2013


The Solution Explorer window is where you can find all your created SSIS packages, project connection managers, project parameters, and any other miscellaneous files needed for the project, such as installation documents. As mentioned earlier, a solution is a container that holds a series of projects. Each project holds a myriad of objects for whatever type of project you’re working on. Once you create a solution, you can store many projects inside of it. For example, you may have a solution that has your VB.NET application and all the SSIS packages that support that application. In this case, you would have two projects: one for VB and another for SSIS contained within the single solution.

After creating a new project, your Solution Explorer window will contain a series of empty folders. Figure 2-11 shows a partially filled Solution Explorer. In this screenshot, there’s a solution named ProSSISSolution with two projects: SSASProject and ProSSISProject. Inside that project are two SSIS packages.

solution explorer

To create a new project inside an existing open solution, right-click the solution name in the Solution Explorer window and select Add ⇒ New Project. To add a new item to your project in the folder, right-click the folder that holds the type of item that you wish to add and select New Connection Manager or New SSIS Package. You can also drag or copy and paste files into the project if they are of a similar type, like .dtsx files.

If you look in the directory that contains your solution and project files, you’ll see all the files that are represented in the Solution Explorer window. Some of the base files you may see will have the following extensions:

  • .dtsx: An SSIS package, which uses its legacy extension from the early beta cycles of SQL Server 2005 when SSIS was still called DTS
  • .conmgr: A connection manager that can be shared across any package in the entire project
  • .sln: A solution file that contains one or more projects
  • .dtproj: An SSIS project file
  • .params: An SSIS project parameter file

If you copy any file that does not match the .params, .conmgr, or .dtsx extension, it will be placed in the Miscellaneous folder. This folder is used to hold any files that describe the installation of the package, such as Word documents or requirements documents. You can put anything you like in that folder, and it can potentially all be checked into a source control system like Team Foundation Server (TFS) or SourceSafe with the code. You’ll learn more about source control systems in Chapter 17.

The SSIS Toolbox

The SSIS Toolbox contains all the items that you can use in the particular tab’s design pane at any given point in time. For example, the Control Flow tab has a list of tasks (a partial list is shown in Figure 2-12). This list may grow depending on what custom tasks are installed, and the list will be completely different when you’re in a different tab, such as the Data Flow tab. All the tasks shown in Figure 2-12 are covered in Chapter 3 in much more detail.

ssis toolbox

In the Control Flow tab, the Toolbox is organized into tabs such as Favorites, Common, Containers, and Other Tasks. These tabs can be collapsed and expanded for usability. As you use the Toolbox, you may want to customize your view by removing tasks or tabs from the default view. You can move or customize the list of items in your Toolbox by right-clicking on a given component (refer to Figure 2-12). You can also reset the entire Toolbox to its defaults by right-clicking and selecting Restore Toolbox Defaults. As you install third-party components, those tasks will now automatically appear in the Toolbox after you refresh the Toolbox or when you reopen SSDT.

The Properties Windows

You can use the Properties window (shown in Figure 2-13) to customize any item that you have selected in the Control Flow or Data Flow tabs. For example, if you select a task in the design pane of those tabs, you’ll be shown a list of properties to configure, such as the task’s name and what query it’s going to use. The view varies widely based on what item you have selected. Figure 2-13 shows the properties of the Execute Process task you created earlier in this chapter.

solution explorer visual studio 2013

Most tasks can be configured through the user interface of the tasks or by going to the Properties pane when the task is selected. Note that the Properties pane may contain some advanced properties not shown in the user interface for the component. To edit the properties for the package, simply select the design pane in the background. If the Properties pane is closed, you can press F4 to reopen it or select the Properties Window button under View.

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