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Creating an installer with Visual Studio

From: Visual Studio 2010 Essential Training

Video: Creating an installer with Visual Studio

Installing a production application on a local computer is more than just copying files to the Program Files folder. You might need to check for dependencies and verify that a previous licensed version is available before continuing. You may need to remove certain files before installing the new version. It is a common practice to create items in the Start menu and copy help and documentation files to the computer. If you need to perform any of these tasks, you must create a setup program. The Windows Installer API exists to assist us in these scenarios. Visual Studio contains an installer project that creates Windows Installer files for your application.

Creating an installer with Visual Studio

Installing a production application on a local computer is more than just copying files to the Program Files folder. You might need to check for dependencies and verify that a previous licensed version is available before continuing. You may need to remove certain files before installing the new version. It is a common practice to create items in the Start menu and copy help and documentation files to the computer. If you need to perform any of these tasks, you must create a setup program. The Windows Installer API exists to assist us in these scenarios. Visual Studio contains an installer project that creates Windows Installer files for your application.

For this demonstration, I'm going to use a solution called InstallerDeploy that contains the application that I want to install, which is PixelSmithDesktop. This is that WPF application we've seen in other movies in this chapter. I'm going to start by adding an installer project. I'll right-click on my Solution and choose Add > New Project. Then I'll move down to the Other Project section and choose Setup and Deployment. There are two setup projects available here: InstallShield LE and Visual Studio Installer. This is a third-party application and it's an add-in to Visual Studio.

I'm going to choose the Visual Studio Installer, and then I'm going to choose the Setup Wizard. I'll give this a better name. I'll call this one PixelSmithInstaller and then click the OK button. Since this is a wizard, it'll start walking me through these questionnaires. Welcome. Thank you. What kind of application setup do you want? Is this for a Windows or web application? This is for a Windows application. I don't need any of the special packages, so I'll click on Next. Here I'm picking the files that are coming out of my application.

This indicates that I want all of the files necessary to run the application: the Primary output, EXE, and DLL. This would be the source code, like the C# files. Obviously, I don't need that from my end users. This is for my debugging symbols. I don't need that, but I do need content files and documentation files if I have those. So I'll click Next. Here I can add additional files. I'll click on the Add button, and then in this Other Files folder, you'll find a number of extra files. There is a Windows movie in here.

There is a help file, there is a PDF, and a document file, and an RTF. I'm going to select all of these and then click Open and then Next. At this point, I'm done. I'll click on the Finish button. As you can see, a new project was added to my application. Now let me show you what happens when you go to build your application. If I go up here and I choose Build Solution, that normally would build all of the projects that are inside my solution. But as you can see from my Output window, it only built my main application; it did not build the installer.

I think this is because you don't create installers until the end of your project cycle. Since installers can take a long time to build, the default mode is to not build this file when you choose to build the solution. Obviously, I do need to build it, so the way I can build the application is to right-click and choose Build. At this point, the installer is ready to run. I can right-click here and choose Install. And later when the application is installed, I can choose Uninstall from this location. I'll start the install process by clicking here. It's got the wrong name up here, PixelSmithsInstaller.

It should say PixelSmithDesktop. So I need to fix that. So let me cancel out of here. Choose Yes and then choose Close. I need to change a couple of settings. To configure my application, there is two places I can go. One is I can click on the project and edit items in the Property window. For instance, I don't want this to say Microsoft as the manufacturer; I want it to say Lynda. Also, the ProductName is wrong. It should say PixelSmithDesktop version 2, and I'll also change the Author to Lynda like that.

Another place I can change the configuration is by right-clicking and choosing View. The only one that I want to change for this demo is User Interface. So let me click here. These are the different screens that are going to show up during the installation process. What I would like to do is add a custom Readme to this install. So what I will do is right-click on Start and choose Add Dialog. Then I'll come over here and choose Read Me. OK. Next, I'm going to drag this Read Me up to the top of the list, so that it's second from the Welcome screen. So they'll see the Welcome screen. Then they'll see my Read Me.

I also need to tell what text to show. So I'll come over here and click the ReadmeFile. Browse for that. I'll look in my Application Folder, find this ReadMe.rtf file and click OK. I'm done with the changes to the user interface. Next, I'm going to change what's installed on the user's computer. Here is the Application Folder. I would like to add some extra folders to this location. So I'm going to right-click and choose Add > Folder, Samples and Add > Folder, Documents.

Now I can go back to my Application folder and drag the files to the location where I want them to be installed on the user's computer. So this documentation file and this movie file I think those belong in the Documents folder, so I'll drag those over here. And these two sample files, I'll drag those over to the Samples folder. Now I'll add a shortcut to the user's desktop. That's accomplished by coming over here and right-clicking, choosing Create New Shortcut. I want to create a shortcut to the Primary output, which will be my EXE.

I should probably change the name, because it's a terrible name. I'd also like to add something to the user's Start menu. So I'll go over here and create a new folder and call this one PixelSmith. Then I'm going to click here and choose Create New Shortcut. I would like the Primary output. Again, I'll rename this one. I'd also like a shortcut to my help file. So I'll add one more shortcut and pick Documents and then Documentation.chm. Now, I'm ready to build the application, rename that, and I'm ready to build.

I'll come over here and choose Build. Once I have a successful build, I'll go to my solution and choose Open Folder in Windows Explorer. It will open my installer application. Here is the files that it will give to my user. They can double-click on these, like the setup.exe, and now you see the dialog includes the text that I had, PixelSmith Desktop V2. It has my Readme file. It's suggesting the correct folder location based on the criteria I put in that Property window, the Lynda folder, and then the PixelSmithDesktop V2.

I'll click on Next to install, and I have now successfully installed my application. Next, I'll go to the Start menu and see if my application is here. It was called PixelSmith. There it is, PixelSmithDesktop. It's running successfully. Next, I'll try my Start folder, and I'll look for the PixelSmith folder, and both my shortcuts are available there, so I'll click on the Documentation.chm file to see what my help file looks like. That's working. If you were to go look in the Program Files folder on your hard drive, you'd also see those subfolders that I generated, like for instance the Samples folder is there.

I would like to show you how to uninstall the application. On Windows 7 you would go to Programs and Features, and then you're going to scroll down and find the PixelSmith area. There it is. Click on this and choose Uninstall. Click Yes to this dialog, and now the application is uninstalled. The Visual Studio Installer creates a basic setup that works for most developers. If you want more power, I suggest you look at the InstallShield add-in. There is one feature that's missing from this installer. I think it would be nice if the application would automatically update when you create a new version.

For that, you need to look at creating a ClickOnce installer, and that's the topic of the next movie in this chapter.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Visual Studio 2010 Essential Training
Visual Studio 2010 Essential Training

86 video lessons · 30919 viewers

Walt Ritscher
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 2m 3s
    1. Welcome
      1m 2s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 1s
  2. 7m 19s
    1. Understanding the Visual Studio versions
      3m 51s
    2. Setting up your developer computer
      3m 28s
  3. 58m 2s
    1. Creating a Visual Studio project
      4m 58s
    2. Working with Solution Explorer
      6m 32s
    3. Working with big projects
      3m 53s
    4. Taking a tour of the Integrated Developer Environment (IDE)
      8m 36s
    5. Introducing drag-and-drop UI design
      7m 38s
    6. Working with the Properties window
      6m 44s
    7. Looking at Server Explorer
      7m 4s
    8. Exploring the new Help engine
      6m 41s
    9. Setting options for the IDE
      5m 56s
  4. 39m 25s
    1. Creating a simple WPF application
      1m 32s
    2. Building the UI with the editors
      9m 14s
    3. Working with the application code
      3m 37s
    4. Communicating with the web site
      7m 15s
    5. Connecting your data
      8m 4s
    6. Binding to an RSS feed
      5m 4s
    7. Packaging and deploying the application
      4m 39s
  5. 39m 46s
    1. What languages are supported in Visual Studio 2010?
      1m 17s
    2. Exploring basic settings for the Code Editor
      5m 35s
    3. Writing a C# program
      6m 48s
    4. Writing a VB program
      6m 29s
    5. Working with C++
      6m 38s
    6. Working with F Sharp
      6m 9s
    7. Font and color options
      6m 50s
  6. 1h 5m
    1. Formatting your code
      6m 43s
    2. Navigating your code
      7m 44s
    3. Using the Task List
      2m 26s
    4. Commenting your code
      2m 45s
    5. Documenting your code
      8m 26s
    6. Using IntelliSense effectively
      7m 0s
    7. Working with code snippets
      6m 25s
    8. Refactoring your code
      5m 15s
    9. Understanding code generation
      2m 10s
    10. Generating code with T4
      6m 29s
    11. Using the Class View, Class Designer, and Class Diagram tools
      5m 51s
    12. Refactoring VB with CodeRush Xpress
      4m 33s
  7. 1h 11m
    1. Working with project and item templates
      8m 38s
    2. Creating a console application
      7m 5s
    3. Creating a class library
      6m 26s
    4. Creating a web site with ASP.NET
      7m 37s
    5. Creating a rich internet application with Silverlight
      6m 57s
    6. Creating a classic Windows application with Windows Forms
      10m 31s
    7. Creating a dramatic Windows application with Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF)
      4m 41s
    8. Creating a WCF service
      9m 1s
    9. Using an existing WCF service
      6m 38s
    10. Navigation UI designs with the Document Outline view
      3m 41s
  8. 33m 18s
    1. Creating a data project with SQL Project
      6m 24s
    2. Clarifying the confusion on .NET Data
      3m 31s
    3. Using ADO.NET in your application
      6m 50s
    4. Creating typed datasets
      7m 55s
    5. Using the data binding tools
      8m 38s
  9. 30m 13s
    1. Debugging code
      9m 32s
    2. Working with the Watch and other debug windows
      7m 46s
    3. Other debugging techniques
      6m 50s
    4. IntelliTrace historical debugging in Visual Studio Ultimate
      6m 5s
  10. 17m 56s
    1. Understanding Visual Studio editions and test tools
      2m 22s
    2. Verifying your code with unit tests
      8m 58s
    3. Running performance and load tests
      6m 36s
  11. 34m 5s
    1. Building your application
      4m 19s
    2. Customizing the build process with MSBuild
      6m 36s
    3. Setting assembly information
      2m 12s
    4. Deploying a basic Windows application
      2m 19s
    5. Creating an installer with Visual Studio
      7m 39s
    6. Creating a ClickOnce application
      5m 13s
    7. Setting up IIS for deploy
      2m 9s
    8. Deploying a Silverlight or ASP.NET application
      3m 38s
  12. 14m 0s
    1. Understanding source control
      2m 9s
    2. Setting up Team Foundation Server source control
      3m 5s
    3. Using Team Foundation Server source control
      8m 46s
  13. 17m 31s
    1. Understanding the .NET Office integration
      4m 16s
    2. Making a Word 2010 application
      7m 54s
    3. Making an Excel 2010 add-in
      5m 21s
  14. 31m 34s
    1. Understanding the extensibility model in Visual Studio
      2m 17s
    2. Adding external tools to the Tools menu
      4m 42s
    3. Creating macros
      7m 16s
    4. Using the Extension Manager
      5m 1s
    5. Creating an MEF add-in
      7m 9s
    6. Deploying and installing an add-in with VSIX
      5m 9s
  15. 25m 34s
    1. Working with configuration files
      5m 37s
    2. Using the Settings Editor
      7m 30s
    3. Using the Resources Editor
      6m 59s
    4. Localizing your resources
      5m 28s
  16. 1m 17s
    1. Goodbye
      1m 17s

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