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Deploying Visual Studio 2017 Using Configuration Manager

Previous versions of Visual Studio were typically delivered via ISO files that we could import into Configuration Manager for deployment to workstations. Visual Studio 2017 arrives as a web installer only (although you can create installation media using the –layout option from the command line if you still want to go down that route).

The command-line parameters of the Visual Studio 2017 installer are also different to previous versions as well, requiring a different approach. See https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/visualstudio/install/use-command-line-parameters-to-install-visual-studio for information on the available command-line parameters.

In the past I’ve tried using an AdminDeployment.xml file to control which components of Visual Studio are installed. With Visual Studio 2013 this worked fine for me. With Visual Studio 2015 I could not make this approach work at all, and ended up specifying the components to be installed by using the ‘/InstallSelectableItems’ command-line parameter, which worked a treat.

Visual Studio uses this latter approach to selecting the components that will be installed with the product, but the system has been extended to provide more control over the component installation, with an ‘IncludeRecommended’ and ‘IncludeOptional’ flag available for each component, or globally, as required. A list of the Visual Studio 2017 workload and component IDs can be found at https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/visualstudio/install/workload-and-component-ids (click through to the product you’re installing, for us this was Visual Studio Enterprise 2017, workload and component IDs for which are found at https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/visualstudio/install/workload-component-id-vs-enterprise)

For example, to add the Azure development workload, with all optional and recommended components, you’d add the following to the command-line that you issue to the installer:

--add Microsoft.VisualStudio.Workload.Azure;includeOptional;includeRecommended

As you can see, this means that the command-line has the potential to get long very quickly!

For the workloads and components I was asked to deploy with Visual Studio Enterprise 2017, our command-line became

mu_visual_studio_enterprise_2017_x86_x64_10049783.exe --add Microsoft.VisualStudio.Workload.Azure;includeOptional;includeRecommended --add Microsoft.VisualStudio.Workload.Data;includeOptional;includeRecommended --add Microsoft.VisualStudio.Workload.ManagedDesktop;includeOptional;includeRecommended --add Microsoft.VisualStudio.Workload.ManagedGame;includeOptional;includeRecommended --add Microsoft.VisualStudio.Workload.NativeCrossPlat --add Microsoft.VisualStudio.Workload.NativeDesktop --add Microsoft.VisualStudio.Workload.NativeGame --add Microsoft.VisualStudio.Workload.NativeMobile --add Microsoft.VisualStudio.Workload.NetCoreTools;includeOptional;includeRecommended --add Microsoft.VisualStudio.Workload.NetCrossPlat;includeOptional;includeRecommended --add Microsoft.VisualStudio.Workload.NetWeb;includeOptional;includeRecommended --add Microsoft.VisualStudio.Workload.Node;includeOptional;includeRecommended --add Microsoft.VisualStudio.Workload.Office;includeOptional;includeRecommended --add Microsoft.VisualStudio.Workload.Universal;includeOptional;includeRecommended --add Microsoft.VisualStudio.Workload.VisualStudioExtension --add Microsoft.VisualStudio.Workload.WebCrossPlat;includeOptional;includeRecommended --add Component.GitHub.VisualStudio --add Microsoft.Component.Blend.SDK.WP --add Microsoft.Component.HelpViewer --add Microsoft.Net.Component.3.5.DeveloperTools --add Microsoft.VisualStudio.Component.LinqToSql --add Microsoft.VisualStudio.Component.TestTools.CodedUITest --add Microsoft.VisualStudio.Component.TestTools.Core --add Microsoft.VisualStudio.Component.TestTools.FeedbackClient --add Microsoft.VisualStudio.Component.TestTools.MicrosoftTestManager --add Microsoft.VisualStudio.Component.TestTools.WebLoadTest --add Microsoft.VisualStudio.Component.TypeScript.2.0 --quiet --norestart --wait

Which, frankly, is huge!

The length of the command-line poses an immediate issue as it’s longer than that allowed in the text box for the installation program for an application. Here’s the approach I took:

  1. Once you’ve determined the workloads and components that are to be installed, create a batch file containing the command line. Prefix the command line with %~dp0 (no backslash or anything; this is to run the command-line from the current directory).
  2. (Optional) Create a batch file to uninstall Visual Studio 2017. My batch file contains the following command:
    %~dp0mu_visual_studio_enterprise_2017_x86_x64_10049783.exe uninstall --quiet –wait
  3. Copy the two batch files created, along with the web installer to a suitable location on the Configuration Manager server, the configure the application as follows:
    1. Create a new application and select ‘manually specify the application information’.
    2. Specify the name for the application, publisher, version and any other information required by your organisation:
      General Application Settings
    3. Specify the appearance of the application in the Application Catalog. Specify the icon by browsing to the web installer and selecting this. One icon is available:
      Application Icon
    4. On the ‘Deployment Type’ page of the wizard, click ‘Add’ and again specify ‘manually specify the deployment type information’.
    5. Provide a name for the deployment type, e.g. ‘Visual Studio Enterprise 2017’ and any required comments.
    6. Specify the content location. This should be the network path where the web installer and two batch files are located, e.g. ‘\\SCCM\Applications\VisualStudioEnterprise2017’.
    7. For the installation program, specify the name (and extension) of the installation batch file you created earlier.
    8. For the uninstall program, specify the uninstallation batch file you created earlier, or the following command-line if you chose not to create a batch file:
      mu_visual_studio_enterprise_2017_x86_x64_10049783.exe -uninstall --quiet –wait
      Content Location and Programs
    9. Specify the detection method that you want to use. I opted for a simple ‘devenv.exe’ version greater than or equal to ‘15.0.26228.4’ which was the version of the file deployed during testing of the installer:
      App Deployment Detection
    10. Specify the user experience settings. Our installation takes approximately 60 minutes. I chose also to allow the maximum run time to be longer than the default 2 hours.
    11. Specify any requirements for the installation. I didn’t have anything to add here.
    12. Specify any dependencies for the installation. Again I didn’t have anything to add here.
    13. Complete the creation of the application by clicking ‘Next’ at the subsequent screens.
  4. Distribute the content by right-clicking the application and selecting ‘Distribute Content’.
  5. Deploy the application and select appropriate collections to deploy it to.
  6. Test!

Note: Installation takes approximately an hour on our workstations, and fails if any other Visual Studio product is running on the workstation during the installation process.

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