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Deploy Windows Applications with Visual Studio.NET, Part 1

  • May 14, 2004
  • By Thiru Thangarathinam
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Configuring Deployment Properties

Now that you've created the project, you can configure its deployment-related properties. Right click on the FormattingApplicationSetup project from the Solution Explorer and select Properties. Then, open the Configuration Properties tree view and select Build. Click the Configuration Manager command button to bring up the Configuration Manager dialog box. Now, change the Active Solution Configuration setting from Debug to Release for both the projects to create a Release build. Also, check the Build option for the setup project. By setting the configuration settings to Release, you create a release build that can be installed onto the end user's computer.

When you work with a VS.NET project, by default, you create a Debug build that creates the debugging information as part of the project output. The project output also is also not optimized for performance. Before deploying the application, change the Debug build to Release, which not only optimizes the project output for performance but also ignores the unnecessary debugging information.

After modification, the dialog box should look like Figure 2. Click Close.

Figure 2: Configuration Manager Dialog Box After Modification

The deployment project files can be packaged into any one of the following three formats:

  • Loose uncompressed files—No compression takes place, and the entire program and data files are stored as they are.
  • Setup file—When selected, this option merges all the files and compresses them into an MSI file.
  • Cabinet file(s)—All files are packaged into one or more cabinet files. The MSI file contains entries about all the project .cab files, and it uses that information at runtime to load and install the .cab files. These files will be placed in the same directory as the MSI file.

In this case, because you want to compress all the files into a single MSI file, select the option In Setup file. Next, you need to configure the BootStrapper property. Set this property to Bootstrapper. A bootstrapper is a program that must be executed before the actual application can be run. When you install the application created with Visual Studio .NET Installer, it requires that Windows Installer version 1.5 be present on the target computer. The Windows XP operating system is the first operating system that comes bundled with Windows Installer 1.5. If you want to deploy your application on earlier systems, you need to include the bootstrapper as part of the installation program. If you include this option, it increases the file size by about 3MB. Because you want to include the bootstrapper to support earlier systems, you select that option.

If you are deploying your application only on Windows XP-based systems, you can safely ignore this option, thereby decreasing the size of the final installation program. If you use the Web Bootstrapper option, you need to make the bootstrapper available for download over the Web, as it isn't included in the MSI download. When selecting this option, you will be asked to provide the URL of the download. The user installing the application that installs the bootstrapper will use this URL. The main benefit to this approach is that no additional space is required in the installation package, which reduces the size of the install.

Finally, set the Compression property to Optimized for speed, which installs the files to be compressed faster.





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