Installing the VSI Extension

Download the Microsoft Visual Studio Installer Projects Extension from Visual Studio Marketplace. Find the version which matches your Visual Studio version.

It is recommended to close current session of Visual Studio when installing this extension.

Creating setup project

Add new Setup project to the solution which can be found under the Other Project Types->Visual Studio Installer section.

Project template for Visual Studio Setup
Project template for Visual Studio Setup

Configure the attributes of the installer by selection Setup project in the solution tree and changing the attributes in the properties page.

Properties of the installer
Properties of the installer

Make sure to select the correct version of the platform. Default option x86 should be changed to x64 to support 64-bit versions of SOLIDWORKS.

Adding installation files and COM registration

Click right mouse button (RMB) o the project node and select Add–>Project Output… command from the context menu.

Adding project outputs
Adding project outputs

Select the main project of the add-in in the drop down and select Primary Output option

Adding primary outputs to setup project
Adding primary outputs to setup project

This will allow to add the dll into the setup as well as all dependent dlls and files.

Dependent libraries of the primary output
Dependent libraries of the primary output

This will also register the COM objects in the dll.

Customizing installer view

Installer can be customized and new components can be added via installer views.

Views of installer
Views of installer

Adding registry entries

Registry values need to be added into the SolidWorks registry section to make SOLIDWORKS recognize the add-in.

Open the Registry View

Registry view of the setup project
Registry view of the setup project

Add the following:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\SolidWorks\Addins[{ADDIN GUID}]

And add the following fields to this key:

(default) (DWORD Value) equals to 1. Simply leave the field name empty to set it to default (do not type (default) explicitly)

Title (String Value) - value is a title of the add-in

Description (String Value) - value is a description of the add-in

In order for the add-in to be loaded at startup add the following key

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\SolidWorks\AddinsStartup[{ADDIN GUID}]

Add the default DWORD field with value 1

Adding resource files

Add the resource files to the installer by RMB on the add-in project and selecting Add->Files menu command. The resource files can be used to add icon to the installer, banner images, EULA etc.

Customizing User Interface

Open the User Interface view. This view contains the list and order of all pages displayed during the installation process.

View of setup pages
View of setup pages

Pages can be customized, added, deleted and reordered.

Select all pages and set the banner image. Banner image displayed at the top of the installer and is a bitmap (bmp) or png file of 500x70 pixels size.

Properties of setup page
Properties of setup page

Change the banner attribute by browsing the bitmap resource added in previous step.

Selecting the resource file
Selecting the resource file

More pages can be added to the installer, such as End User License Agreement (EULA) or registration page.

Installing add-in

When project compiled the msi package is generated in the output directory. This package can be redistributed to the user for installing your product.

Installing the add-in
Installing the add-in

Once installed the product icon appears in the Programs and Features page of the Control Panel. The product can be repaired or uninstalled within this page.

Add-in icon in Programs and Features
Add-in icon in Programs and Features

Releasing update

When product update is required and new installer needs to be redistributed it is required to update the version of the installer.

The following message may be displayed.

Message for automatically updating the product code when installer version is changed
Message for automatically updating the product code when installer version is changed

It is required to change the Product Code for every new version while Upgrade Code should remain unchanged. This will allow users to upgrade without the need of uninstalling previous version of add-in (if already installed).

It is required to change the assembly versions of all changed projects otherwise the installer would not update the dlls on the target machines.

Assembly version of .NET project
Assembly version of .NET project