This post was originally published here.
Having run into so many crazy errors from installing MSI’s, I’ve settled on a new favorite deployment mechanism: NAnt (or MSBuild). Here’s how it works:
- Package application and build scripts into one ZIP file
- Package any tools needed for the build (NAnt, NUnit, etc.)
- Package a bootstrapper batch file that calls NAnt and your build file with the appropriate targets
- Run the batch file
- Install script can be the same script as run on a local dev box
- Can package NAnt along with application, so no need to install any tools on their machine
- More robust than XCopy deployment
- Far fewer headaches than with MSI deployment
- No need for proprietary scripting languages to do complex work, instead use open-source, standard tasks
- No more Wise script or InstallScript
- Not for commercial products
- MSI’s do take care of a lot of boilerplate tasks
- MSI’s have rollback and uninstall built in
- Though with custom actions, still a pain
- Nice UI
- Familiar interface
Here’s what my final ZIP file looks like:
- Product.zip (zipped up application)
What’s really cool is that the structure of the distribution zip file matches my local structure, so installing locally is the exact same as installing on a clean box. Also, I can deploy NUnit and the tests, so I can run tests on deployed machines for some extra build verification.
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