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Quickly Create Your Own .NET Code Templates and Use Them From Anywhere

10 mins read : Camron Frenzel

Whether you need to throw together a quick console app or scaffold an enterprise solution, it can be a real time suck just creating, naming and referencing projects. Setting up boilerplate logging, dependency injection, data access, messaging, gulp and other tools can send you hunting through previous work to copy and paste code. Let’s put an end to all that once and for all with less than an hour of work using dotnet new templating! The advantages of this approach include:

- Use a tool that's already on any development machine       
- No new templating language to learn
- Use runnable Solution/Project/Files as templates
- Bundle many templates into a single distributable package
- Access templates from any machine with a single command

Let's get started:

Our goal is to be able to easily create and distribute custom templates to any machine; so let’s first take a look at what templates already exist on our machine:

> dotnet new -l
Templates                                         Short Name               Language          Tags
Console Application                               console                  [C#], F#, VB      Common/Console
Class library                                     classlib                 [C#], F#, VB      Common/Library

You should see a list of templates longer but similar to above. Our custom templates will show up in this list when we’re done. To create a new project from the template named console in the list above we can type:

>  dotnet new console -n SampleFromTemplate

This will create a new folder with a console app named SampleFromTemplate. It’s ready to go with nuget packages restored and the namespaces set to SampleFromTemplate.

    └─── SampleFromTemplate.csproj
    └─── Program.cs
    └─── /obj

To begin creating custom templates with dotnet new simply create a normal project or solution (or just one or more files) that represents your boilerplate code for a given scenario. That’s almost all there is to it. Adding a configuration file to setup some metadata and behavior will result in a resuable template. The template folder structure for a simple console app project will look something like this:

    └─── Templating.ConsoleApp.csproj
    └─── Program.cs
    └─── /.template_config
        └───  template.json
  • Start with any existing project and from the project root folder
>  mkdir .template_config
You have control over whether the generated output of your template is placed in a new folder or just dumped in the output location. If you want everything inside a folder then include the folder at the top level of the template beside the .template_config folder. Otherwise you can leave it up to the user to specify on the command line using the -o option.
If you want to create empty folders inside your template such as /src /test /doc /build /migrations. For now you will need to place a file named -.- inside the folder otherwise the empty folder will be ignored in the output
  • Add a template.json to the .template_config folder
  "$schema": "",
  "author": "Camron Frenzel",
  "classifications": [ "cfrenzel", "core", "console" ],
  "tags": {
    "language": "C#"
  "identity": "demo.console",
  "name": "demo.console_2.2",
  "shortName": "dm-console-2.2",
  "sourceName": "Templating",
  "sources": [
      "modifiers": [
        { "exclude": [ ".vs/**", ".template_config/**" ] }
  • identity a unique name for the template
  • name for display purposes
  • shortName what users will type to specify your template
  • sources -> exclude: This is a little trick to keep some unwanted files out of the template
  • sourceName the name in the source tree to replace with the user specified name (using -n or --name).

    sourceName is important!. dotnet new will replace all the folders/files/namespaces/etc.. containing this name with whatever the user passes in on the command line. For example: If I’m using a convention such as

      └─── Templating.sln
      └─── /src
          └─── /Templating.ConsoleApp
              └─── Templating.ConsoleApp.csproj
          └─── /Templating.Domain
              └─── Templating.Domain.csproj
          └─── /Templating.Application
              └─── Templating.Application.csproj

    Then passing in -n Demo will produce:

      >  dotnet new demo.console_2.2 -n Demo
      └─── Demo.sln
      └─── /src
          └─── /Demo.ConsoleApp
              └─── Demo.ConsoleApp.csproj
          └─── /Demo.Domain
              └─── Demo.Domain.csproj
          └─── /Demo.Application
              └─── Demo.Application.csproj
       namespaces: Templating.ConsoleApp -> Demo.ConsoleApp
  • At this point you should be comfortable with these concepts
    • a template is a normal solution/project/file
    • add a .template_config folder with a template.config file in it to configure a template
    • the user will pass in a –name MyApp to the template that will replace the configured sourceName text in all folders/solutions/projects/namespaces
Tip! To have nuget restore automatically - add this to your template.config
"symbols": {
    "skipRestore": {
      "type": "parameter",
      "datatype": "bool",
      "description": "If specified, skips the automatic restore of the project on create.",
      "defaultValue": "false"
  "postActions": [
      "condition": "(!skipRestore)",
      "description": "Restore NuGet packages required by this project.",
      "manualInstructions": [
        { "text": "Run 'dotnet restore'" }
      "actionId": "210D431B-A78B-4D2F-B762-4ED3E3EA9025",
      "continueOnError": true
Issue! If your template creates one or more projects, often you would like the generated projects to be automatically added to an existing solution. This is supported, but I haven't had any luck with it. The essence of the problem seems to be a bug rendering the output project path/name.
  "primaryOutputs": [
    { "path": "SolutionName.ConsoleApp/SolutionName.ConsoleApp.csproj" }

  "postActions": [
      "description": "Add project to solution",
      "manualInstructions": [],
      "primaryOutputIndexes": "0",
      "actionId": "D396686C-DE0E-4DE6-906D-291CD29FC5DE",
      "continueOnError": true

If you haven’t created your own template at this point you can follow along by downloading a console app template with logging/DI/configuration here

Installing a template

We could install our template locally from the template root folder.

dotnet new -i .

List the installed templates and you should see your template listed

dotnet new -l

You can use it by passing in it’s shortName and provide a name

    >  dotnet new {shortname} -n DemoApp

To remove your template

dotnet new -u

You should see your template along with an Uninstall command:. This command will come in handy as things can get confusing when managing multiple versions of your templates and installing them from different sources.

 dotnet new -u C:\temptemplate\temptemplate

Not bad, but the workflow leaves a lot to be desired. It would be a pain to manage even a modest number of templates using this method.

Packaging templates

The dotnet new templating tool supports installing templates from nuget packages locally or in remote repositories. Multiple templates can be included in a single package, which allows adding and removing collections of templates from the internet with a single command.

Packaging templates took some tinkering for me; so let’s get straight to what works by creating a special project that will help us get all of our templates into a single package. The structure of our multi-template solution will look like this:

 └─── /my-dotnet-templates   
      └─── my-dotnet-templates.sln
      └─── /templates
           └─── Directory.Build.props //metadata for package
           └─── templates.csproj
           └─── /ConsoleApp //template 1
                └─── Templating.sln
                └─── /.template_config
                └─── /Templating.ConsoleApp
                     └─── Templating.ConsoleApp.csproj
           └─── /WebApp //template 2
                └─── Templating.sln
                └─── /.template_config
                └─── /Templating.WebbApp
                     └─── Templating.WebApp.csproj

The idea is that you have a solution with a /templates folder and a special project: template.csproj that will aid in building the multi-template package. Within the /templates folder you will have a folder for each template. The folder for each template should contain everything you need to develop and test the template. You won’t be able to run the template from our special templates.csproj so it’s nice to have a seperate solution for running/editing each template.

  • You can start by creating templates.csproj as a console app. Open the .csproj file and edit it to look like this:
<Project Sdk="Microsoft.NET.Sdk">

    <Title>cfrenzel dotnet-new-templates</Title>

    <Content Include="ConsoleApp\**" Exclude="ConsoleApp\SolutionName.sln;ConsoleApp\**\bin\**;ConsoleApp\**\obj\**;ConsoleApp\**\.vs\**" />
    <Content Include="EFCore.MigrationProjects\**" Exclude="EFCore.MigrationProjects\**\bin\**;EFCore.MigrationProjects\**\obj\**;EFCore.MigrationProjects\**\.vs\**" />
    <Content Include="Solution\**" Exclude="Solution\**\bin\**;Solution\**\obj\**;Solution\**\.vs\**" />
    <Compile Remove="**\*" />

  • <PackageType>Template</PackageType> - set special package type for project
  • For each template in our package we are adding a <Content> tag that specifies which files to include and exclude
    • <Content Include="ConsoleApp\**" - include everything from our /ConsoleApp folder
    • Exclude="ConsoleApp\Templating.sln;ConsoleApp\**\bin\**;ConsoleApp\**\obj\**;ConsoleApp\**\.vs\**" /> - exclude the solution file and bin/obj folders
  • <Compile Remove="**\*" /> - we’re not interested in the output of the compiled project

  • We can specify metadata for the package in Directory.Build.props
    <Authors>Camron Frenzel</Authors>
    <Description>dotnet new templates for core 2.2</Description>
    <PackageTags>template dotnet console migration web</PackageTags>
  • Now we can create our nuget package using templates.csproj
dotnet pack .\templates\templates.csproj -o .\artifacts\ --no-build

And install all of our templates locally from our .nupkg file

dotnet new -i .\artifacts\cfrenzel-dotnet-new-templates-

Find the Uninstall command: to remove

dotnet new -u

Publish package for access online

You can host your template .nupkg for free using my MyGet or make it official/perminent using This can be as simple as typing

dotnet nuget push artifacts\**\*.nupkg -s "{youraccount}/api/v2/package" -k {yourkey}

Then installing your templates from anywhere using

dotnet new --install {yourpackagename}  --nuget-source{youraccount}/api/v3/index.json
If you publish it to you don't even have to specify the package url! dotnet new --install {yourpackagename}

-Since we’re pretty much one configuration file away from free continuous build and deployment, let’s setup AppVeyor to build and publish our template package every time we commit a change to the source code.

  • Save you code to Github or wherever
  • Add an appveyor.yml to build and publish template package to MyGet
version: '1.{build}'
image: Visual Studio 2019
    secure: 56nW3KcP4naYX9mlsVEIKLj5xPdfmpt6lMALR6wQmorRQOaoUOtlwMZ2V0BtGTAM
    secure: /54XAunyBETRa1Fp/qSrwvebSnTAcHDO2OVZ+exMtQtOtrBzHKvp4RC1AB8RD2PQ
  do_not_increment_build_number: true
  - master
  disable_publish_on_pr: true
test: off
  - dotnet restore 
  - dotnet pack .\templates\templates.csproj -o .\artifacts\ --no-build
  - ps: dotnet nuget push artifacts\**\*.nupkg -s "" -k $env:MyGetApiKey

After you link your AppVeyor project to your source repo, your template .nupkg will be updated in MyGet/Nuget every time you commit to master.

Final Thoughts

Though templating with dotnet new has some more powerful features including:

I really appreciate the simplicity of the tool. You simply use what you’re already doing to make doing what you’re already doing faster. No need to learn a new complex template language.

full source code for this post.

Camron Frenzel
Written by Camron Frenzel
Dec 20, 2019