Building and Deploying a Windows Desktop Application using IsWiX
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A silent demonstration on how to build, package and test a WPF application in 2 minutes using Visual Studio, WiX and IsWiX.
By anonymous 2017-09-20
You need to understand that a fragment isn't processed unless it's referenced by another fragment. Then the entire fragment is processed atomically.
I have an Open source project called ISWIX (http://iswix.codeplex.com). It contains VS project templates and graphical designers to really help you get up to speed faster. Then you can look at how it organizes it's fragments and see how it all comes together and decide for yourself how to proceed.
Here is a short 2 minute video where I 1) create a desktop application and 2) create a WiX/IsWiX installer for it. It's really that easy.
By anonymous 2017-09-20
The Windows Installer consists of an SDK, database specification and runtime service. Introduced in 1999, it originally had redistributables that were nesseccary to "bootstrap" onto the system before and MSI could be installed. Various versions of this runtime have been been baked into various versions of Windows for a very long time now so generally this is no longer a concern. You can simply install the MSI.
Technically the SDK does come with some tools that could be used to create an MSI. However this would be like using notepad and CSC to write a .NET app. Almost no one would actually do it this way. One notable tool does come from the SDK: ORCA.exe. ORCA is a database editor which is very useful for examining MSIs and making minor modifications to already built MSI. It technically can be used to create an MSI but very few outside of Microsoft back in the early days ever did.
For the most part Microsoft left installer authoring tools to third parties. Windows Installer XML (open source), Industrial Strength Windows Installer XML (open source), InstallShield, Visual Studio Deployment Projects, InstallAware and AdavancedInstaller are a few to list. It is outside of the scope of Stack Overflow but I will link a 2 minute video showing how to use Visual Studio, WiX and IsWiX to create a simple MSI with a shortcut for a single EXE:
Disclosure: I'm the project maintainer for the IsWiX on GitHub.
As for how to install an MSI. An MSI is a database not a program. It is installed by the Windows Installer service msiexec.exe
There is an extensive command line documented at:
By anonymous 2018-01-01
Disclaimer: I'm the maintainer of IsWiX, a FOSS WiX accelerator that provides enhanced project templates (scaffolding) and graphical designers to do the majority of the WiX XML heavy lifting for you. As you can see from the video, this is easily only a few minutes of work.
By anonymous 2018-05-21
VS Installer Projects: Several good answers already - worth trying out. As stated by others you can use Microsoft Visual Studio 2017 Installer Projects - as limited as they are. They feature some pre-requisite functionality as I recall. I have limited experience with the tool. Could work for something very simple, but you will quickly discover limitations.
WiX: Personally I would use WiX since it is also free and flexible - it takes some effort, but is very capable. Here is a WiX quick start tip answer (frankly not my favorite answer, but it has been upvoted more than usual so I haven't changed it).
Et Al: The commercial tools are also good - your time costs too. Can be shocking once you add it up - and you will definitely get running quicker with a commercial tool. How to create windows installer (links to pretty comprehensive lists of tools). Further links below.
Other than that, I'll just link to a few pre-existing answers with info about various tools:
- Windows service NOT shown in add remove programs under control panel
- What installation product to use? InstallShield, WiX, Wise, Advanced Installer, etc
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