Visual Studio '15' Has New Setup Engine

The Visual Studio team said the goal with the new setup engine is to speed up installations, as well as install only what is necessary for what the developer requires.

Visual Studio '15' has been tweaking lots of features lately throughout the suite, and one area that has gotten lots of attention of late is the setup engine. The Visual Studio team said the goal with the the new setup engine is to speed up installations, as well as perform a lightweight install -- that is, only what is necessary for what the developer requires.

"To make it easier for our partners to author component packages for Visual Studio while making sure you get all the required components, an underlying engine needs to provide granularity and cohesion with dependencies," writes Heath Stewart, a senior developer with Microsoft's Visual Studio team, in a blog. "Existing package managers like NuGet and NPM provided much of the inspiration, and we bolstered dependency resolution with additional flexibility."

Stewart said that faster, more efficient installations was accomplished with a fresh rewrite of the setup engine as well as an extension of the " VSIX packages to install the core product and many of its components while still supporting platform-specific functionality we had with Windows Installer packages like creating file associations, shortcuts, and NGEN'ing assemblies." The result, he said, is an installation that can be done in isolation. Stewart notes that there's work still to be done to perfect the process, but at some point he expects that installations in the future will be done with the least amount of interaction as necessary.

Stewart notes in his blog that lightweight and isolated installations could only really be accomplished through creating "instances" consisting of a root folder and "other information" regarding what's installed in the folder, with each instance associated with a private, independently-configurable registry. For native or managed code for Visual Studio 15, the team has published two NuGet packages, respectively: Microsoft.VisualStudio.Setup.Configuration.Native, which "adds the header location and automatically links the library." and Microsoft.VisualStudio.Setup.Configuration.Interop, which, as the name suggests, "provides embeddable interop types."

You can find download links to the NuGet packages and find out more at Stewart's blog here.

About the Author

Michael Domingo is a long-time software publishing veteran, having started up and managed several developer publications for the Clipper compiler, Microsoft Access, and Visual Basic. He's also managed IT pubs for 1105 Media, including Microsoft Certified Professional Magazine and Virtualization Review before landing his current gig as Visual Studio Magazine Editor in Chief. Besides his publishing life, he's a professional photographer, whose work can be found by Googling domingophoto.

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