Learn about app sideloading—distributing your app more rapidly for test scenarios.
- [Male Instructor] If you don't want to distribute your application through the Windows Store you can distribute it through app sideloading. Sideloading is a term that refers to installing your app package directly from the .appx file rather than through the store. In Windows desktop builds that have the anniversary update of Windows or later you can accomplish this just by double-clicking on the app package file. Let's see how this is done. In Visual Studio, right-click on the project in the Solution Explorer and select Open Folder in File Explorer. Navigate to the AppPackages folder again.
Rather than dealing with the APPXUPLOADTHIS file go ahead and open the _Test folder. What we have here is the bundle file that contains all of our packages. You'll see this little package icon to the left of the name, assuming you're on Anniversary update or later of Windows 10. By double-clicking on this file you can actually install the app directly. Now I can launch my app after it's installed. And voila! Here it is. Anything that has a .appx blank part in the file extension is just a ZIP file.
And I want to explore the contents of this to show you what's actually in the bundle. So go ahead and create a copy of this so you don't lose it, and paste it in the same folder. Make sure you that you have file extensions visible by going to View, File Name Extensions. Right-click on the .appx bundle file copy and rename it to .zip. Go ahead and open the ZIP file. Here you can see all of the different actual app packages. One for x86, one for x64, and one for ARM.
By using the bundle it will automatically pick the applicable package for the device that it's being installed on. That's why I always encourage you to use the bundle. In order to be able to sideload the application, though, you will need to make sure that your customers have done a couple of steps first. Before they can sideload, they will need to make sure that they have the certificate installed. Back in the _Test folder, you'll see this .cer file. You can right-click on this .cer file to install the certificate. You'll get a wizard through Windows that I'm not going to go through now.
The other thing that your customers will have to do is make sure that their system settings have their device in sideload mode. You can do this by going to Windows Settings, Update & Security, For developers, and selecting either Sideload apps or Developer mode. If Windows Store apps is selected you will only be able to install apps that come directly from the Windows Store. Sideloading can be a great way to distribute your app especially while it is still under development. Since the store certification process usually takes some time, sideloading can be a faster means of distribution especially for testing purposes.
For example, you could distribute a package on a network share to a whole bunch of different testers of your application, that they can just sideload whenever they need to update it. They will only ever need to update their Windows settings and install the certificate the very first time. And then they will be able to install updates to the package forever.
- Working with .NET for UWP app development
- Establishing application architecture
- Configuring Azure services
- Configuring the mobile app service backend
- Testing and publishing the service backend
- Using Facebook authentication
- Using XAML
- Client server abstraction API
- Using the UWP community toolkit
- Styling app views
- Creating adaptive views
- Testing an app for multiple user accounts
- Publishing to the Windows Store
- Sideloading app packages