One of my favorite tools that I highly recommend next to breathing is WSPBuilder. With this tool in your arsenal, no longer do you have to worry about hand crafting manifest files or running cryptic makecab.exe command line tools. Building solution packages for SharePoint can be a super big problem, and for super big problems we turn to WSPBuilder to save the day!
WSPBuilder comes in the form of a command line tool that you can run against a specific directory structure on your hard drive where your solution files live. It scans the folder and out pops a WSP file you can easily install onto SharePoint (make your life even easier by using the SharePoint Solution Installer so you can automatically deploy and activate your features!). While the command line tool is easy, the Visual Studio Plugin is even easier and useful. This is an integrated tool to Visual Studio that will allow you to build and deploy your solution from inside your IDE.
The default settings are fine but for example the WPS filename is the same as your project name. Personally I like using the CompanyName.Department.Project nomenclature when naming my artifacts (Features, WSP Files, Assemblies, etc.). This way I can easily identify them in the GAC and folder trees. So the default name just won't do for me and I don't care to rename my solutions or projects into fully qualified names, I just want my output files this way.
To override the default settings in WSPBuilder from inside the IDE is easy. Just create an xml file (Project > Add New Item > XML File) in your project named WSPBuilder.exe.config. Drop a copy of the contents from where WSPBuilder is installed (by default the IDE uses C:\Program Files (x86)\WSPTools\WSPBuilderExtensions) into this file and make the changes you want. For example to change the output name just add the key name WSPName and set the value to whatever you want:
<add key="WSPName" value="MyCompany.MyProject.wsp"/>
Now when you right click on your project and select WSPBuilder > Build WSP, it uses the local config file. You can set any other values you want to override from the default here as well. Hope that helps!
If you don't have WSPBuilder in your toolbelt, check it out today!