Deploying LightSwitch Applications to IIS6 & Automating Deployment Packages

A lot of folks have asked me for information on how to publish a LightSwitch application to IIS6. With the help of a couple team members we finally got the steps written down. This is a follow up to the detailed IIS7 on Windows Server 2008 deployment guide which you should familiarize yourself with first. There is a lot more information there on how deployment actually works:

Deployment Guide: How to Configure a Web Server to Host LightSwitch Applications

In this post I’m just going to show you the basic steps necessary to configure a Windows 2003 Server with IIS6 installed. I’ll also show you the MSDeploy commands you need to automate a deployment package created with Visual Studio LightSwitch.

Setup IIS6 on Windows 2003 Server with Web Platform Installer

Step 1: Install Web Platform Installer

You can use the Web Platform Installer (WPI) to set up a Windows web server fast. This makes it super easy to set up a machine with all the stuff you need. Although you can do this all manually, I highly recommend you set up your LightSwitch server this way. This will install IIS & Web Deploy for you (if you don’t have it installed already) and configure them properly.

To get started, select the Products link at the top then select Tools on the left. There you will see two options for LightSwitch Server Runtime. One option is to install SQL Server Express called “Visual Studio LightSwitch 2011 Server Runtime and Local SQL“ and the other is “without Local SQL”. If you already have an edition of SQL Server installed on the machine or if you are hosting the database on another machine you can choose the “without Local SQL” option

Select the option you want and then click Install and off you go. During the install you will need to reboot a few times.

Step 2: Start Web Deployment Agent

Next we need to verify the Web Deployment Agent Service is started. Open up Services and right-click on Web Deployment Agent Service and select Start if it’s not already started.

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Step 3: Configure Your Web Site and Database for Network Access

In order for other computers to access your server’s websites via HTTP on a Windows 2003 machine, you need to configure the Windows Firewall. Click on the Advanced tab, select the network connection and click the Settings… button. On the Services tab check off the “Web Server (HTTP)” and verify the name of your web server, then click OK.

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Now computers on your network will be able to navigate to the server via http://SERVERNAME. Next thing you need to verify is that your database server is also accessible. This configuration is the same as I describe in the Deployment Guide using SQL Configuration Manager so refer to that post.

Step 4: Deploy from Visual Studio LightSwitch

Now that your server is set up, you can deploy directly from Visual Studio LightSwitch. Keep in mind that when you deploy directly to IIS6 that the service URL should use http, not https. Https web deployment it is not supported on IIS6. See the Deployment Guide for step-by-step instructions on how to walk through the deployment wizard.

If you are not deploying directly from Visual Studio LightSwitch to your server but instead create a deployment package on disk, see the bottom of this post on how to install the package on IIS6.

Setup IIS6 on Windows 2003 Server without Web Platform Installer

Step 1: Install IIS6

First you will need to install IIS6 on your Windows 2003 box. You can take a look at this article for options on how to do this: Installing IIS (IIS 6.0)

Step 2: Install .NET Framework 4.0

Next you will need to install the .NET Framework 4.0 in order to get ASP.NET on the box.

Step 3: Install Web Deploy 1.1

In order to publish deployment packages you need to install Web Deploy 1.1. Install the appropriate package based on your server architecture and refer to this documentation for installation details: Web Deployment Tool Installation

Step 4: Install Visual Studio LightSwitch 2011 Server Runtime

Step 5: Start Web Deployment Agent

Open up Services and right-click on Web Deployment Agent Service and select Start if it’s not already started. See Step 2 in above section.

Step 6: Configure Your Web Site and Database for Network Access

In order for other computers to access your server’s websites via HTTP on a Windows 2003 machine, you need to configure the Windows Firewall. See step 3 in the above section on how to do this.

Step 7: Set .XAP file MIME type

In IIS Manager, verify the mime type for the .xap file extension. Right-click on the Default Web Site and select Properties then select the HTTP Headers tab. Click MIME Types… and map the .xap extension to application/x-silverlight-app as shown:

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Step 8: Deploy from Visual Studio LightSwitch

Now that your server is set up, you can deploy directly from Visual Studio LightSwitch. Keep in mind that when you deploy directly to IIS6 that the service URL should use http, not https. Https web deployment it is not supported on IIS6. See the Deployment Guide for step-by-step instructions on how to walk through the deployment wizard.

If you are not deploying directly from Visual Studio LightSwitch to your server but instead create a deployment package on disk, see below for steps on how to install the package on IIS6.

Importing a LightSwitch Deployment Package into IIS

Note: These instructions will only work for the RTM (version 1) Release of Visual Studio LightSwitch (not LightSwitch in Visual Studio 11 Beta). These instructions will work for both IIS6 and 7+

Instead of using direct deployment from the LightSwitch deployment wizard, you can choose to create a deployment package on disk. (See the Deployment Guide for step-by-step on how to walk through the deployment wizard to create a package and deploy it to IIS7).

In order to deploy to IIS6 you need to use the MSDeploy command line tool. If you are going to be creating or updating a remote database you will also need SQL Server Management Objects installed on this machine. You can get these through the Web Platform Installer referenced above and selecting SQL Server Management Studio 2008 R2 Express or the Visual Studio LightSwitch 2011 Server Runtime with Local SQL. You can also obtain them directly from here. If you already have SQL or SQL Express installed then you can skip this prerequisite.

1. Make sure you are logged in as an administrator of the machine.

2. Copy the deployment package (i.e. Application1.zip) to the IIS6 server machine.

3. Next create a file with the parameters you are going to need to pass to MSDeploy. You can obtain the parameters you need from the package by executing this command. Open a command prompt and assuming the path to the deployment package is C:\Publish\Application1.zip, type:

>“C:\Program Files\IIS\Microsoft Web Deploy\msdeploy.exe” -verb:getParameters -source:package=C:\Publish\Application1.zip

This will list out the parameters you need. Some of them will change based on the type of authentication you are using. For any LightSwitch application you will need to specify the following:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?> <parameters> <setParameter name="DatabaseAdministratorConnectionString" 
value="Data Source=servername\SQLEXPRESS;Initial Catalog=Application1;
User ID=admin;Password=adminPassword
" /> <setParameter name="DatabaseServer" value="servername\SQLEXPRESS" /> <setParameter name="DatabaseName" value="Application1" /> <setParameter name="DatabaseUserName" value="dbuser" /> <setParameter name="DatabaseUserPassword" value="dbpassword" /> <setParameter name="Application1_IisWebApplication" value="Default Web Site/Application1" /> </parameters>

Note that the DatabaseAdministratorConnectionString is only used by this process to create/update the database. The DatabaseUserName and DatabaseUserPassword values are used to construct the connection string in the web.config and is the credential used by the LightSwitch middle-tier when your app is running. 

If you are using Windows authentication you will need to specify one additional parameter:

 <setParameter name="Application Administrator User Name" value="DOMAIN\UserName" />

If you are using Forms authentication you will need to specify three additional parameters:

 <setParameter name="Application Administrator User Name" value="UserName" /> <setParameter name="Application Administrator Full Name" value="Full Name" /> <setParameter name="Application Administrator Full Password" value="strongPassword" />

4. Save the parameters XML file in the same location as the deployment package (i.e. Application1.Parameters.xml)

5. Run the following command to import the package, replacing the ServerName below with the name of the IIS server:

>“C:\Program Files\IIS\Microsoft Web Deploy\msdeploy.exe” -verb:sync -source:package=c:\Publish\Application1.zip –dest:auto,computerName=http://ServerName/MSDEPLOYAGENTSERVICE -setParamFile:c:\Publish\Application1.Parameters.xml

If you get any errors connecting to the deployment service then double-check the service is running (as shown above) and verify that you are logged in as an administrator of the machine.

6. If your application is using Forms or Windows authentication then you need to also run the following command to set up the Admin user in the database so you can log in the first time. You need to specify the location of the web.config to do this.

For Windows authentication, run:

>”C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio 10.0\LightSwitch\1.0\Tools\Microsoft.LightSwitch.SecurityAdmin.exe” /createadmin
/config:”c:\inetpub\wwwroot\
Application1\web.config” /user:”DOMAIN\UserName

For Forms authentication run:

>”C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio 10.0\LightSwitch\1.0\Tools\Microsoft.LightSwitch.SecurityAdmin.exe” /createadmin
/config:”c:\inetpub\wwwroot\
Application1\web.config” /user:”UserName” /fullname:”Full Name” /password:”strongPassword

You can perform the same steps on either an IIS6 or IIS7 machine.

Wrap Up

Direct deployment is a lot less work if you can allow it. The LightSwitch publishing wizard performs all the necessary steps for you directly from the LightSwitch development environment. However, often times you do not have (nor want) access to deployment servers. This is why LightSwitch can produce deployment packages on disk instead. With IIS7, you can import these packages using the GUI in IIS manager, however in IIS6 you need to use the MSDeply command line as shown above.

We’re making improvements to the deployment in LightSwitch in Visual Studio 11 and in my next post on deployment I’ll walk through some of the enhancements. In particular, now when you create a package, the parameters and command files are automatically generated for you alongside the deployment package. This makes it really easy to just add your settings and go. Until next time…

Enjoy!

UPDATE 2/29/2012: LightSwitch IIS Deployment Enhancements in Visual Studio 11