Thoughts about setup and deployment issues, WiX, XNA, the .NET Framework and Visual Studio
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I have heard from several customers who have run into problems installing Visual Studio 2005 because the component named Microsoft Document Explorer 2005 fails to install and Visual Studio setup quits when that happens. I wanted to give a bit more information about what this component is and where logging information can be found to attempt to track down why this installation might fail.
Document Explorer 2005 is a redistributable package that delivers the 8.0 version of dexplore.exe. This is the help viewer that is used by Visual Studio 2005, and by other products such as the Windows SDK. In previous versions of Visual Studio, dexplore.exe was installed as a part of the main Visual Studio MSI or as a part of the MSDN MSI, but in VS 2005, it was separated into its own standalone package, and it is installed as a prerequisite before the main Visual Studio MSI.
The setup for Document Explorer 2005 uses the same external UI handler as the .NET Framework 2.0 redistributable and SDK (described in more detail in this blog post and in this blog post).
Visual Studio 2005 setup runs the setup package for Document Explorer 2005 in silent mode. In cases where this package fails during Visual Studio 2005 setup, you can run dexplore.exe directly from the folder <VS install disc>\wcu\DExplore\ in order to see the error message that is being generated.
This package creates the following log files in the %temp% directory on a system:
In both of these cases, the * in the name of the files is a randomly generated ending to ensure that each time you run setup it will create a unique file and not overwrite existing log files.
If you do not get any useful error information by running the setup package directly, it can be useful to examine the contents of these log files. In particular, you can search for the string return value 3 in dd_dexploremsi*.txt and that will usually lead you to the error that causes the setup package to fail.
If you have trouble locating error information, please contact me or leave a comment on this blog post and I will try to help.