What a coincidence: this week I'm in Aarhus, Denmark for a SharePoint 2007 Development Training, and I've stumbled upon a very nice SharePoint tool, created by a Danish guy: Carsten Keutmann. The tool is named WSPBuilder and can be downloaded from the CodePlex site. Basically this tool can build a SharePoint solution file (WSP) in minutes. You just have to copy the contents for the WSP to a corresponding structure (e.g. 12\template\layouts, 12\template\features\yourfeature), run the tool and you've got yourself a splendid SharePoint solution!
Description from CodePlex:
No more manually creating the manifest.xml file.
No more manually specifying the DDF file.
No more using the makecab.exe application.
The WSPbuilder is a console application that creates SharePoint Solutions files based on a folder structure. WSPBuilder will automatically traverse a "12" folder structure and creates a SharePoint solution manifest.xml and the wsp file based on the files it finds. Therefore you do not need the knowledge of how to create a solution manifest.xml and wsp file any more. The folder structure that WSPBuilder uses to build the wsp file is actually the same folder stucture you will find in: "%Program Files%\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\12". So all that you have to do, is the create a \12 folder in your project and add your files to that folder matching the same structure as if you where to put them directly into the "%Program Files%\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\12" folder manually.
Thanks Carsten, if you happen to be in Aarhus this week, I'll buy you a beer! ;-)