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Create Setup Files for your Windows Mobile Applications Using Visual Studio 2005 : Page 2

Learning a simple series of steps in Visual Studio 2005 will make deploying applications to mobile devices a no-brainer from here on out. Follow along with this project, which includes step-by-step instructions, code, and a sample .ini file.

Packaging CAB Files
The first step toward deploying the project is to first package the application into a Cabinet (CAB) file. The CAB file can then be deployed to devices, where it is then expanded and installed. A CAB file is an executable archive file that contains your application, dependencies such as DLLs, resources, Help files, and any other files you want to include in it.

Figure 2. Name Your Product: Set the ProductName property of the SmartDeviceCab1 project to MySampleApp.
In this step not only will I create the CAB file for the application, but I will also configure it so that a shortcut is created on the user's Start menu when they install the application.

Add a new project to your current solution by going to File(Add Project…. In the Project Types column, expand the Other Project Types node and select Setup and Deployment. Select the Smart Device CAB Project template. Name the project C:\SmartDeviceCab1 and click OK.

In Solution Explorer, click the SmartDeviceCab1 project and set the ProductName property to MySampleApp (see Figure 2). This will be the name of the folder that is created on the Pocket PC when you install the application.

Right-click on SmartDeviceCab1 in Solution Explorer and select Properties. Set the output file name to Debug\SampleApp.cab (see Figure 3). This will be the name and location of the CAB file.

The next step would be to configure how the CAB file will install on the target device when it is deployed onto the user's Pocket PC. For my example, I will create a shortcut on the user's Pocket PC Start Menu so that users can directly launch the application from the Start Menu.

In the File System pane, right-click Application Folder and select Add—>Project Output…. In the Add Project Output Group window, select Primary output and click OK.

Figure 3. Finding the CAB: Specify the name and location of the CAB file.
Figure 4. Get Shorty: Create a shortcut so that end users can launch your application easily from their Start menus.

Right-click on Primary output from SampleApp(Active) and select Create Shortcut to Primary output from SampleApp (Active) (see Figure 4). The Primary Output refers to the application that will be expanded from the SampleApp.cab cabinet file and here we are creating a shortcut to point to the application.

Rename the default shortcut "SampleApp v1." This will be the shortcut that you will display on the Start menu of the end user devices (you will create the shortcut in the next step).

In the current window, right click on File System on Target Machine and select Add Special Folder—>Start Menu Folder (see Figure 5). This will allow us to put the shortcut we created earlier into the Start Menu folder on the target Pocket PC. If a Start menu already exists on the device simply skip to the next step.

Figure 5. At the Start: Add a special folder (Start Menu) to the target machine.
Figure 6. Taking a Shortcut: Move the shortcut to the Start Menu folder.

The icon for the SampleAppv1 shortcut should be visible from the current window. Drag and drop it onto the Start Menu Folder. The Start Menu Folder should now look like Figure 6. This will cause a shortcut to be created on the user's Pocket PC Start Menu when the application is installed.

The next step is to generate the CAB file. To do that, go to Build—>Build SmartDeviceCab1 to build the CAB file project.

The CAB file is, in itself, an installer, but only end users with above-average computer savvy will know what to do with it. The next step is to actually make a Windows-style application installer that better mimics the typical experience installing applications on PCs.

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