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Visual Studio 2013 Installer Projects – Hello World Installer

You would know from your ops-teams that ‘One Click Installers’ make them happy & smile. Microsoft pulled support for Installer projects from Visual Studio 2012. It is evident that Installers are really popular, no doubt there were over 6000 votes to bring back setup & deployment project support into Visual Studio. I have been using WixToolset to create installer packages, I must confess Wix has a rather steep learning curve, but once you get a hang of the basics, Wix is very powerful & gives you tremendous control over the package being created.

In this blog post, I intend to cover a walk through on how to create an installer for a WPF desktop application using Visual Studio 2013 Installer Project. In future blog posts I intend to share my experience of migrating existing packages created using Wix Toolset over to Visual Studio Installer package.


To get the Visual Studio Installer Projects, you need to install the Visual Studio Installer Extension from the Visual Studio Extension Gallery


1. File –> New –> Other Project Types –> Visual Studio Installer, select the project type most suitable for your application that needs to be packaged. In my case, I am choosing Setup Wizard, I need to create a Wizard driven UI.

2. You could either choose to go through the Wizard or right click the installer project and choose to add project output.

3. Select the project for which you would like the project output to be packaged, select the output type, the installer supports localization too. Select the configuration type you would like the installer to pick up, I left this to Active, so I could get the package to be created locally for testing too.

4. Upon clicking OK, the installer picks up all the dependencies and adds it into the dependencies folder for you, a ‘Primary output from <project name> (configuration)’ also gets created. You can select properties on this file to specify meta data on the installer. At this point you could click build by right clicking the installer project. This is enough to generate the exe/msi in the output folder for you.

5. Customize the installer by opening up the view type from the context menu.

6. Select the file system view to create for example a short cut of the application on desktop/program files. You could also create additional folders from here or assign an icon to the application in the add remove programs.


This was a basic walkthrough of creating a installer package using Visual Studio Installer project. I will be exploring the possibilities of applying transforms on configuration files & start up conditions in future blog posts. Hope this helps.



This article is part of the GWB Archives. Original Author: Tarun Arora

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