New on the ASP.NET site today is a cool thing for deployment -- Web Deployment projects. (Download here.) This is an add-in VS project type that manages an MSBuild file and lets manage you all sorts of build configurations, pre- and post-processing, etc.

Included with the new project type is a new utility (Aspnet_merge.exe) that takes as input the assemblies produced when precompiling and merges/consolidates them into smaller sets of assemblies -- if you want, into a single assembly. The idea is to improve the story for deploying to servers and especially for maintaining by recompiling and redeploying object code.

You can actually use the aspnet_merge.exe utility as a command-line tool -- you don't need to be working with a Web Deployment project to merge precompiled assemblies. For a quick list of the command's features, use the command aspnet_merge.exe /?. Or hang tight -- we have a comprehensive doc coming out within a couple of days.

Scott Guthrie describes all this in some detail on his blog. Or you can download the whitepaper that the team has been working on.