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Introducing VsixCompress–a NuGet package to compress your Visual Studio Package

A few weeks ago I blogged about a Visual Studio extension, Farticus, which I’m working on with Mads Kristensen. In that post I described how the default compression of a .vsix (the artifact that is created for a Visual Studio Package) is not as small as it could be. It’s better to get a fully compressed VSIX because when users install the component the download time can be significantly reduced. In that post I described how you could use the Zip task from the MSBuild Extension Pack to have a fully compressed .vsix file. I will now show you how I’ve simplified this.

Icon for package VsixCompressVsixCompress

Since my previous post I’ve created a NuGet package, VsixCompress which simplifies this greatly. If you have an existing Visual Studio package and want to have a fully compressed .vsix file then all you need to do is install the VsixCompress package.

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After you install this package the following happens.

  1. NuGet package is downloaded and installed to the packages folder
  2. The project is edited to include an import for a new .targets file
  3. The build process is extended to compress the .vsix file automatically

After installing this package once you build the generated .vsix is much smaller than before. In the default case where you select to create a new C# VS Package the created .vsix is 17kb. After adding VsixCompress the resulting .vsix is only 9kb. That’s almost half the size. That’s all you need to know for local development. If you have a build server setup then there are a couple of additional steps. Let’s go over those now.

Build Server Support

I have blogged before about issues of shipping build updates in NuGet. To briefly summarize, when leveraging NuGet Package Restore you have to be careful if any of those NuGet packages have build updates. When using Package Restore the NuGet packages which contain the imported .targets file(s) are restored after the build starts. What this means is that the .targets files will never be imported (or an old copy is imported in the case the file exists from a previous build). The only way to work around this is to restore the packages before the .sln/.csproj file themselves are built. You can read the full details at http://sedodream.com/2012/12/24/SlowCheetahBuildServerSupportUpdated.aspx. I have a NuGet package, PackageRestore, which can help here. Take a look at my previous post How to simplify shipping build updates in a NuGet package. Now that we’ve discussed all the details that you need let’s discuss what my plans are going forward with this.

Plans going forward

I’m hoping to add the following features over the course of the next few weeks.

FYI VsixCompress is open source so you can take a look at the code, or better yet contribute at https://github.com/sayedihashimi/vsix-compress.

Please let me know what you think of this!

Sayed Ibrahim Hashimi | http://msbuildbook.com | @SayedIHashimi

extensibility | Visual Studio | VSIX Saturday, June 08, 2013 1:42:57 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |