Did you know… Visual Studio has a Content Installer? – #355


Throughout my blog and my book, I talk passionately about how I loved to test a certain feature or how a certain feature drove me crazy. But no feature has more emotion behind it than the Content Installer. If you ever meet me in person, just say, “Hey Sara, so what’s the deal with that Content Installer?” and let the games begin.

Introduced in Visual Studio 2005, the Content Installer is a wizard that installs various content for Visual Studio, including macros, add-ins, toolbox controls, code snippets, and templates. I can’t recall if help content ever got added. Maybe it did for 2008, but I’m not sure.

Visual Studio content is packaged in a glorified .zip file renamed to “.vsi” (Visual Studio Installer) with the following icon:

a .vsi file icon

When double-clicked, it launches the Visual Studio Content Installer.

Visual Studio Content Installer

Within a .vsi file you’ll find

  1. a .vscontent file
  2. content files (i.e. myaddin.dll, myaddin.addin, mysnippet.snippet, etc.)

Chetan, a fellow SDET back in the day, has a great write-up of how to create .vsi and .vscontent files. Note that you’ll need to ContentVersion to 2.0 for Visual Studio 2008. Another good reference is the VS Content Installer Scheme Reference (note the link is for VS 2005, as the VS 2008 content is seriously lacking in the documentation.)

Upon completion of the wizard, you’ll get confirmation for each piece of content.

content installed successfully

Technorati Tags: VS2005Tip,VS2008Tip

Comments (3)
  1. Jimmy Ye Htut says:

    Thanks for tips Sara, these are very helpful.

  2. Roberto Alessi says:

    Where is the zip of Visual Studio Content Installer? i have searched in file system but i don’t find anything of similar.

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