Running a VB.NET .exe without install


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Thread: Running a VB.NET .exe without install

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
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    Running a VB.NET .exe without install

    Hello,
    I have a "mini" VB.NET application that I would like users to use without having to create the setup/deployment package and go through the setup/install on each individual computer. This would be a strategy such as copying the .exe produced when building the project to a network share where everyone could run it from there. I haven't had any success yet trying to run the .exe this way from said users computer. The appropriate .net framework can be installed on any computer. VB6 would let you get away with it easier by copying over a couple of files. There must be an easier way. Sorry if this has been touched on here before, I did a little nosing around, not a lot, without finding anything. Thanks in advance for any help.

  2. #2
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    you can't just copy the .exe. you need to copy and .dll that are also in the "bin" folder with the .exe.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by GRANCOCLARK
    I haven't had any success yet trying to run the .exe this way from said users computer. The appropriate .net framework can be installed on any computer.
    And you won't have any success I'm afraid.
    Quote Originally Posted by GRANCOCLARK
    VB6 would let you get away with it easier by copying over a couple of files.
    Really?? I have 14 years of VB programming and I always had to have a setup and installation package for every app I ever did.
    Quote Originally Posted by GRANCOCLARK
    There must be an easier way.
    There isn't if you are going to develop for windows.

    I have never understood what the issue is with creating a setup and installation package. Why is that such a chore?
    I don't answer coding questions via PM or Email. Please post a thread in the appropriate forum section.
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  4. #4
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    If you're using .NET 2.0/VS2005 or higher, you might try ClickOnce deployment: http://www.kirupa.com/net/clickOnce3.htm .
    Phil Weber
    http://www.philweber.com

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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hack View Post
    And you won't have any success I'm afraid.Really?? I have 14 years of VB programming and I always had to have a setup and installation package for every app I ever did.There isn't if you are going to develop for windows.

    I have never understood what the issue is with creating a setup and installation package. Why is that such a chore?
    you aren't required to create a setup & deployment project. While it makes it easier to deploy, you can simply copy all of the files from the bin\Debug or bin\Release folders and it will work fine.

  6. #6
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    I could have done that with VB6 too, but what a time consuming exercise that would be when deploying to several hundred machines.

    Don't forget that these components need to be more than just copied. They also need to be registered with the OS and that has to be done at each machine.

    Just copying the files is not now, nor has ever been, a realistic option.
    I don't answer coding questions via PM or Email. Please post a thread in the appropriate forum section.
    Please use [Code]your code goes in here[/Code] tags when posting code.
    Before posting your question, did you look here?
    Got a question on Linux? Visit our Linux sister site.
    Modifications Required For VB6 Apps To Work On Vista

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hack View Post
    Don't forget that these components need to be more than just copied. They also need to be registered with the OS and that has to be done at each machine.

    Just copying the files is not now, nor has ever been, a realistic option.
    as long as you install the required .Net framework, you simply copy the files and run the .exe. Nothing else is required.

    I have done this for one client. They didn't want to run an installer since the PCs were not going to have keyboards or mice, and they didn't want to have to carry them around to all of the workstations. So that was the option we gave them. We did that for a while without problems. They eventually changed their minds and wanted an installer.

    So yes, I know it's not the best option, or even a good one. It will work just fine with a simple copy.

  8. #8
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    A lot of false and/or incomplete information here.

    Contrary to what some have been saying, .NET files do not need to be registered, unless you want to call them from a COM (VB6) application.

    The possibility of deploying a project only by copying the file is possible in .NET, but it depend on the dlls used by the project. This is called XCOPY deployment, because of the XCOPY command that was used in DOS to copy a batch of files.

    Here are a few basics to guide you, but it is surely not complete. Every situation is different, because every application uses its own set of dlls.

    The first thing is to make sure that the users have the proper version of the framework. An application developed on the framework 2.0 should work with the framework 3.0, but not the reverse.

    If the application uses only dlls from the framework and the user has the proper version of the framework, no problem.

    If the compiler copied dlls in the compilation directory, then those should also be copied and put in the same directory as the application on the user machine as was suggested by many.

    The main problem with such a deployment, when it works, is that the user has to start the application from Windows Explorer or manually create the necessary shortcuts.

    Everything is not always so simple however.

    In the following situations, you will probably have to resort to a Setup program, or at least a simple .bat or .vbs file to correct some of the problems associated with a straight copy.

    In some compilations, needed files from outside the framework are not copied in the application directory upon compilation. This is most often due to third party dlls that do not install correctly in your development computer (Crystal Report is a good example) and do not instruct the compiler to copy them when they are referenced.

    If you encounter that problem, you might try to change the CopyLocal property of the reference to True. However, it is not always that simple, because some of the dlls your application need might not show in the references (Crystal Report again).

    If you reference a COM / ActiveX / VB6 dll in your application, it won't be copied in the compilation directory. You mostly end up instead with a dll that has the word "interop" somewhere in its name. This interop is a only bridge between .NET and the COM dll. In such a case, the interop must be distributed with the application, and the COM dll must already be installed on the user machine for the application to be able to use it through the interop.

    Some applications such as Microsoft Office for example, can be installed with special interops called Primary Interop Assemblies (PIA). If you have the PIAs installed on your development computer, the compiler does not say anything and assumes that they are also installed on your clients computers, which might not be the case.

    These are the situations that are encountered the most often. Depending on the dlls you use in your applications, you might find other situations that prevents you from simply copying the files on the user computer.

    Another problem that you might have is that you seem to imply that the users will use the application from the network. Security rules are not the same when the application is installed locally and when it runs from somewhere else, so be sure to check and test the application in an environment that is similar to the one in which it will work.

    Someone has suggested ClickOnce as an alternative, and it is a good one. It is a lot simpler to prepare a ClickOnce installation than to do so with a standard Setup package. It also tremendously simplify updates to the application. You might however be aware that this could also come with it own security limitations.

    Hope this helps clearing the confusion that often arises around .NET deployment.
    Jacques Bourgeois
    JBFI
    http://www3.sympatico.ca/jbfi/homeus.htm

  9. #9
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    Feb 2009
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    GRANCOCLARK,

    Sadly I don't think you've gotten an answer to your question. You asked about running the a .NET .exe from a network file share without an installer. I do it on a daily basis. In my situation, my VB.NET projects live on a network file share and every single time I compile and run them, it builds the whole thing on the network file share and runs it from there. I also just create shortcuts into my network file share /release folders so that I can use the apps directly from the file share while they're in beta so I don't have to waste the time installing and uninstalling on my local machine.

    What I can share with you is that .NET doesn't want to run an application that's not in a trusted location on your network. So, you'll have to use the .NET Configuration tool (Administrative tools) to let .NET know that it's OK to run files from the network share. It's in the Runtime security policy and as I recall it was a bit of a pain to setup, but that's probably what is preventing you from successfully running your .exe off your network file share.

    Now, that being said, if you reference COM objects, etc, those may have to be installed and registered on local machines before your application will work, but if you just have a simple application that lives completely in the .NET world (i.e. no dlls or com objects), you should be fine.

    Hope that helps a bit.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    1

    creating a single .NET EXE package for network deployment

    Hi,
    I just wanted to add how I go about this.

    Please note that I am not a "PRO" developer and use vb.NET to build simple programs to assist in the repair of infected machines that come into our computer repair shop. This calls for programs that can be launched from a network share. Note that .NET Framework must be installed on the target machine for this to work. I target .NET 2 as more machines have this on. Targeting .NET 3 > would just be a pain in the ***.

    This method is tried and tested on XP Vista and Win7 Beta7

    in the vb.net publish setting uncheck the use .deploy extention(or rename the .EXE.DEPLOY file later)

    if you are referencing and DLLs etc make sure they are COPY LOCAL

    Publish your application to a local drive or mem stick.


    go to the publiched dir (will be somthing like c:/my_app/applications files/1.0.0.1/) that contains all the .exe and .applicaton etc

    select all files(CTRL +A)

    then create a self extracting executable zip file using something like winrar(thats wht i use).

    using winrar do the following

    select all files
    right click
    select add to archive
    in the winrar window select create SFX archive
    click the advanced tab
    click SFX options
    enter the name of your myapp.EXE file in the run after extraction
    click modes
    check HIDE ALL

    other options are optional, change as you see fit.

    click OK
    then click OK on main winrar window

    the new self extracting file will be created in the in the same DIR as your programs files.

    now deploy that single EXE to a net share and run it from and other machine .

    I also use other scripts to detect .NET on the machine and and offer to install if not found or run a NON.NET program instead etc..
    I also have my program delete itself from the machine when it closes to prevent customer using my magin computer fixing codes.

    Im sure other PROs will find issues with my method but it works for me and as far as im concerned thats what matters!

    Now if anyone can tell me a better way I am all ears :-)

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