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I'm wondering, if there is any way to keep synchronized deployed custom list with it's list definition in Visual Studio. To make it clear, and avoid confusion let me bring en example. Let's say I have a simple custom list definition project, after deployment, if changes to list were made ( for example new column was added, or display name was changed ) how do I make those changes affect in elements.xml as well ? Currently the only option I see, is to save list as template, open manifest.xml and manually update list definition project xml files. Any other considerations ?

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I don't think there is some other way to keep list definition synchronized if you make changes to deployed list via UI.

For future reference I have found a quick tutorial on how to do this:

Simple Way of Creating a SharePoint 2010 Custom List Definition

However since you are developing custom list definition in Visual Studio the 'proper way' to achieve this goal is to update list definition in your project, deploy it and then make updates to all lists based on your custom definition. There are many ways to do it so here are just two basic scenarios - thx goes to @ChrisOBrien:

And debate about it here on SPSE: When to use Custom Site Definitions... and not

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Vedran is 100% right on this. When you instantiate a new list based on a custom list definition, it will create the list based on the definition as it exists then. It will not inherit any future changes automatically. If your list definition adds new columns later on, you can goto the existing list and add "existing" site columns to add the new columns to the existing list. –  John Chapman Apr 26 '12 at 20:53
    
+1 for the links provided –  michael moore Apr 27 '12 at 6:12
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