ClickOnce and DevExpress components deployment

Let’s say you’ve build a WinForms application and put some DevExpress (or any other 3rd party controls installed in GAC I suppose) controls in there. At some point you have to deploy the application and let’s say you’ll use ClickOnce technology. Its easy, go to Project Properties/Publish tab, select where to publish and click Publish button. The next step is to try the application and of course you try it at your development computer – it works, no surprise there. However, when your client runs it on his computer it will most probably throw some sort of exception at the very beginning. Besides the obvious Murphy law involvement, why’s that? After all it worked on *development* computer.

There are two problems in this process.

1. ClickOnce doesn’t include 3rd party assemblies by default. This is probably true for all 3rd party assemblies that reside in GAC on development computer or in other words, those which are marked with CopyLocal=false (I admit it, I never researched in details). It should include those who are marked CopyLocal=true. Now, if you look at your Application Files in Publish tab of Project Properties you’ll see that all three DevExpress assemblies are marked with Publish Status = Prerequisite (Auto) flag – it means that your application expects those assemblies already installed on target machine:

pre

To include them in your deployment package change their Publish Status flag to Include. Like this:

post

All required assemblies will be published to client’s computer and the application will work, or at least will work as good or as bad as on development computer.

2. Your testing process isn’t good. You should always test deployment scenarios on non-development machine(s). VMWare Workstation is of great help. Besides the great virtualization desktop platform it also support integration in Visual Studio itself so you can pretty easily launch application in guest OS or even remotely debug it and even record the session. The other virtualization option on desktop is MS’ VirtualPC, an inferior application but free. You could use virtualization servers as well (MS HyperV,  VMWare Server, etc.).

That’s it.