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September 20, 2006 / Bob Black

Installer Project Oddities

I’m working, as time permits, on the installer for Code Toaster. The first few releases will probably be built using Visual Studio installer projects, but when I get the time I’d like to move on to WiX, which is quite robust and has quite a high coolness factor. But no GUI front-end – you have to build your installer by hand-editing the XML, which I actually prefer over a fancy GUI that hides what’s happening behind the scenes.

That’s why a lot of people didn’t like the first few versions of Frontpage, because it changed your code, and created all those weird _vti_ folders.

But anyway, I’m here to relate unto you, dear reader, some peculiarities about VS.Net 2005’s Installer Project Thingies (or whatever they’re called). Firstly, when I add an assembly to a folder that will be eventually created on the user’s desktop, why does VS insist on automatically seeking out and adding said assemblies dependencies? Which you then can’t delete! I want total control over where and when my files get added, and stuff like that right there!

Secondly, it doth appear that if you first add an assembly and its dependencies to any particular target folder, once you’ve done that you can then move the assemblies and/or the dependencies around the target folders so as to bypass (sort of) VS whining about missing assembly dependencies. But they have to be added to the same folder before you can start moving things around, otherwise VS will think your assembly’s dependencies aren’t in the project, and add duplicates!

Which is why I want to start using WiX. VS.Net’s little installer project thingy is great fun and all for little web application deployment projects and such like, but for large apps with crazy installation requirements? I ain’t so sure. 

But it will have to do for now. As soon as I can get Code Toaster properly obfuscated and wrapped up nice and tight in an installer, I’ll put it out for y’all to play with. 100% Free. 



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