Last week I wrote about the ClickOnce feature in Visual Studio 2005.  Some readers asked me to elaborate on how ClickOnce relates to Microsoft Installer (MSI) and other setup applications.  We also received feedback on the same topic in the MSDN Product Feedback center.

 

ClickOnce is not intended to replace Microsoft Installer (MSI).  There are several classes of applications where ClickOnce would be inappropriate.   If you need to install machine wide shared components, register drivers, etc, you are better off using MSI.  Visual Studio 2005 includes a base level MSI package generator (the setup & deployment projects in Visual Studio 2005) -- great for small and medium line of business applications.  For large MSI projects, or to take advantage of advanced MSI features such as patching, our partners have many fine tools to choose from.

 

ClickOnce requires that the .NET Framework 2.0 is installed on the client machine.  Once the Framework is installed, you can run your apps by simply clicking a link to the application.  The .NET Framework 2.0 will have many distribution channels & as time goes on it will become increasingly likely that a client already has the .Net Framework 2.0 installed.  The .NET Framework 2.0 will also be delivered as part of our Longhorn release of Windows.  This will go a long way in addressing the Framework distribution issue.

 

For clients that don’t have the .NET Framework 2.0 installed, your best bet is to detect this with some simple javascript in your HTML page & if not present, replace the link to run the app with a link to the Visual Studio 2005 bootstrapper package.   The bootstrapper is included in Visual Studio 2005 & its purpose in life is to install any pre-requisites your ClickOnce application may have, such as the .NET Framework.   Once the bootstrappper completes the installation of the application’s pre-requisites, it will activate the ClickOnce application automatically.

 

Namaste!