Saturday, January 9, 2010

Publish ClickOnce with Albacore and Rake

Rake is a great build system written on Ruby.  It uses the Ruby language to build a wonderfully simple Domain Specific Language (DSL) for writing build scripts.

If you look around a bit you'll find that people are using Rake for all kinds of things.  Even .NET projects use Rake, including Fluent NH and Machine.Specifications.

Albacore is a Ruby library for Rake which gives you a whole set of useful predefined tasks for doing common .NET tasks, like executing msbuild.

With Albacore, building a .NET solution is as simple as writing this rake script:
desc "Run a sample build using the MSBuildTask"
msbuildtask do |msb| = {:configuration => :Debug}
  msb.targets [:Clean, :Build]
  msb.solution = "spec/support/TestSolution/TestSolution.sln"
You execute that by simply typing "rake msbuild" at the command prompt.

You can even use Rake and Albacore to automatically perform a ClickOnce Publish!  For my office, I'm hoping that this will be a VERY useful thing.  To set it up, get the ClickOnce publish working in Visual Studio first.  With that done, write a rake script like this:
desc "Publish ClickOnce"
msbuildtask("publish") do |msb| = {
    "configuration" => "Release",
    "PublishDir" => "C:/temp/",
    "PublishUrl" => "C:/temp/",
    "InstallUrl" => "C:/temp/"
  msb.targets [:Publish]
  msb.solution = "slnFile.sln"

There are a few important things you have to get right for this to work.  First, you have to specify the PublishDir parameter or it wont copy your files to the PublishUrl.  Visual Studio makes this work automatically, but you have to do it manually if you want msbuild to do it.

The second thing to note is the use of forward slashes in the paths.  If you use backslashes you have to double escape them, once for Ruby, and once for cmd.  I have no idea why cmd needs the backslashes escaped, but that's the behavior I ran into and it's simpler to just use forward slashes.

With this all setup, you can run "rake publish" at the command line and your app will be ClickOnce deployed automatically.  You can also easily setup different ClickOnce deployments if you need to (ex: Test vs Production).

If you have any build steps at all that you think could be automated I highly recommend you check out Rake and Albacore.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, this was a very useful article.

    Now, I'm dealing with the fact that I need to use different certificate file per environment (Development, Testing, Production), so that one client computer can have multiple versions.

    Is there a way I can change the certificate file and resign the manifest files using Albacore?

    Thanks in advance,