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The simplest way to deploy your .NET Windows application is to copy the files to a folder on the user's computer. Visual Studio plays no role in this deployment, other than compiling the finished executable. But let me show you this basic deployment anyway as it sets the stage for other movies in this chapter. For this movie, I'm going to be using an application called PixelSmithDesktop. This is a simple WPF application. Let me show you what it looks like. I'll run the application. It has a series of buttons on the left side of the screen. When I click the Add Ellipse button, it adds an ellipse to the designer surface.
Then I can select a different color and add another ellipse or add a rectangle, and I can even add an image. So it's relatively easy to build this in WPF. The drag and drop behavior comes from a behavior that's part of the Expression Blend library. So in my applications folder, if you were to look in the compile folder-- for instance, in the debug folder-- you'll see that I have a reference to this Expression Blend and the System.Windows.Interactivity.dll. Just make sure you have those DLLs in your folder when you compile the application.
The first thing I need to do to make my application ready to release is to switch over to this release build by clicking in this dropdown and choosing Release and then building my application. Now here is how easy it is to deploy the application. I go out to my hard drive and make a copy of the Release folder, and then I put it wherever I want to install the application. Let's say I want to install it to my desktop. So I'll go over here, I'll right-click, and choose Paste. Now, the user should be able to go in to this application and double-click on PixelSmithDesktop, and there is a running application.
They should be able to rename the folder and re-run the application. They should be able to move that folder anywhere on their hardware where they have permission to put a copy of a folder and still run the application. So that's really how simple it is to deploy a .NET application. The deployment story gets more complicated if you want to install shared files. Those shared files need to go in the .NET Global Assembly Cache. For that you need an installer application. If you have a web application, you have to upload the files to then web server and then configure the server.
If you have a Windows application that needs auto-update, you should consider creating a ClickOnce application. Coincidentally, there are movies about each of these topics later in this chapter.
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