Article: Using SharePoint Solutions to Deliver Server-Side Solutions

Discover an elegant technique for creating and deploying solutions that provide reusable processes for installing and uninstalling custom code.

If you’ve ever worked on more than the most trivial installation program, you realize that developing installers isn’t for the faint of heart. After spending days or weeks learning about the MSI file format, how to assemble tables, and how to add dialogs, you’re left with a collection of documentation that reaches from the floor to the ceiling, and you can feel just as lost as when you began. Further, the experience doesn’t help much when you need to deliver the software in a silent or automated way. You need to acquire additional knowledge to handle automated setup files.

Help Your SharePoint User

At first glance you might wonder why there’s a feature in SharePoint Technologies called “Solutions.” The Solutions framework seems to be a direct competitor with the Microsoft Windows Installer technology—and its MSI file format—but it isn’t. Where the Windows installer is targeted toward client-side application installation, the SharePoint Solutions approach is targeted toward delivering complete solutions to SharePoint Servers.

This discussion will walk you through the deployment of a semifictional application, WFInspector, which is a workflow inspector tool. The tool itself is of marginal value because it doesn’t add much functionality beyond what is available out of the box; however, it’s very representative of the kinds of solutions that you may want or need to deploy.