To respond to your concerns, Matthew...
2A) So if we changed this to have a solution level menu option, my thoughts would be the following: a) the menu item would have to say "Deploy SSIS Packages" since your solution might have non-SSIS projects (b) the configurations which drive the
deploy destination are per project (since SSIS configurations are per project) and (c) would the solution level menu option do anything other than run deploy for each project?
2B) Under the covers it just executes dtutil. So you should be able to create a bat file or something to automate this outside of BIDS fairly easily.
2C) We toyed with this, but there are about 1,000 permutations of how you can do configurations and deploy configurations. So we decided it would probably just cause more problems than it was worth. Plus, deploying configurations is usually just a one-time
setup activity, where deploying packages is an ongoing activity every time you tweak something and want to run it from the server again.