Game Development Reference
The .NET Framework SDK includes a tool called MAGE (Manifest Generator and Editor) that pro-
vides both a UI and a command line interface that can create and manipulate the manifest files
that power ClickOnce.
ClickOnce and MSI Comparison
While ClickOnce solves many deployment problems plaguing the software world
right now, it is by no means a “silver bullet” for every deployment scenario. There
will be times when ClickOnce deployment will not suffice, and it would be more
beneficial to use MSI or xcopy deployment instead. The intent of this section is to
educate you on the differences between ClickOnce and MSI deployment so that
you can determine which solution will support the needs of your project.
Both ClickOnce and MSI have a dependency on a runtime that must be installed
on the user's machine before installation can begin. ClickOnce requires the .NET
2.0 Framework in order to run. This can be installed with an old-fashioned boot-
strapper. MSI files have an MSI runtime that must also be installed, although all
current versions of Windows come preinstalled with this runtime. Again, this run-
time could be installed with an old-fashioned bootstrapper.
The need for user input is very small with a ClickOnce deployment. Two clicks are
needed: one click on the hyperlink to launch the installer, and another click on the
confirmation dialog. The remainder of the installation is a progress bar. This can
be a good thing, but personalization and customization of the install process are
very limited. MSI files generally have wizard pages that can support many differ-
ent types of user input. MSI files can be run in a BasicUI mode that functions in a
fashion quite similar to ClickOnce.
ClickOnce can only install an application per-user. Per-machine installations are
impossible, so multiple users will result in multiple copies of the software on the
machine. MSI files can install on a per-machine basis. ClickOnce is also very
restrictive with the installation directory. Files will always be installed to the My
Applications folder within the My Documents folder. MSI files can install to any
directory specified. You cannot modify the target computer with a ClickOnce
install, whereas an MSI file can access the registry and other parts of the machine.
At this point, you are probably thinking, “What's so great about ClickOnce if MSI
files provide more functionality and features?”