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Last night after a quick e-mail exchange with Phil, David and Scott I revised my Silverlight Toolkit “NuPack” packages I had previously created when NuPack NuGet first came out.  At the time there were a couple of things still not supported and frankly, I got busy and never bothered to check back.  Scott had seen something on a forum inquiring why Silverlight stuff, namely our open source controls, aren’t deployable via NuGet.  There wasn’t any other reason other than resources not currently scheduled to add this to the build flows, etc.  So I spent a few minutes revising the packages and putting them up there:

Silverlight Toolkits on NuGet

What you see above is the “Add Library Package Reference” results after you install NuGet.  Now instead of having to install an MSI, etc. you can basically add a reference to the package and the bits will be copied to your project and automatically referenced.  In order to componentize the main Silverlight Toolkit, I created the NuGet packages in a way that they can be individually consumed, or a meta-package as “All.”  It’s cool that NuGet allows you to create a meta-package which is basically a dependency graph.  For instance, my “all” package has zero content…but here is the .nuspec contents:

   1: <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?> 
   2: <package> 
   3:   <metadata> 
   4:     <id>SilverlightToolkit-All</id> 
   5:     <version>4.2010.04</version> 
   6:     <authors>Microsoft</authors>
   7:     <description>The complete Microsoft Silverlight Toolkit.  Details at http://silverlight.codeplex.com</description> 
   8:     <language>en-US</language>
   9:     <licenseUrl>http://silverlight.codeplex.com/license</licenseUrl>    
  10:     <projectUrl>http://silverlight.codeplex.com/</projectUrl>
  11:     <dependencies>
  12:       <dependency id="SilverlightToolkit-Core" version="4.2010.04" />
  13:       <dependency id="SilverlightToolkit-Data" version="4.2010.04" />
  14:       <dependency id="SilverlightToolkit-DataViz" version="4.2010.04" />
  15:       <dependency id="SilverlightToolkit-Input" version="4.2010.04" />
  16:       <dependency id="SilverlightToolkit-Layout" version="4.2010.04" />
  17:       <dependency id="SilverlightToolkit-Theming" version="4.2010.04" />
  18:     </dependencies>
  19:     <title>Silverlight Toolkit - All</title>
  20:     <owners>Tim Heuer</owners>
  21:     <iconUrl>http://silverlight.microsoft.com/assets/sl-32.png</iconUrl>
  22:     <tags>silverlight toolkit sltoolkit</tags>
  23:   </metadata> 
  24: </package>

It’ basically defines the pointers to what it needs and NuGet does the magic to manage the dependencies on install.  For the Silverlight for Windows Phone Toolkit, we also have icons.  NuGet allows me to package up those icons as well so that when the package gets added, so do the icons (NOTE: there is still a step to mark them as content in the project).  I point this out because when the phone toolkit first came out some of the samples weren’t working for people because they didn’t read that they had to actually include some icons to get them to work.  Using NuGet, at least we’re able to help them even further.

I really like this model.  I love that I can use a familiar “Add Reference” gesture in Visual Studio, but I can also use a PowerShell VS window to do my package management as well if I wanted.  Take a look at the NuGet stuff and if you are a Silverlight developer, now you have everything easily at your fingertips!

NOTE: The version numbers in the toolkit packages are package version numbers.  We’ve never really promoted the toolkit versions as they literally are (i.e., 4.0.31319.blah) but rather as the release timeframe i.e., “April 2010” release.  Because NuGet follows CLR versioning taxonomy I created the package versions to hopefully be somewhat descriptive: 4.2010.04 – For Silverlight 4, April 2010 release – as an example.  It’s not perfect, but it works.

NuGet has over 670 packages now in the repository with an amazing set of tools readily available at your fingertips.  There are some good Silverlight nuggets in there as well and it is nice to have our toolkits in there now also!  When updates come out, the Library Package Manager will show the updates, giving the developer the option to update them quickly.

Hope this helps!

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Yesterday there was quite a buzz around something Microsoft just released called “NuPack” which is described as:

NuPack is a free open source package manager that makes it easy for you to find, install, and use .NET libraries in your projects. It works with all .NET project types (including, but not limited to, both ASP.NET Web Forms and ASP.NET MVC).

NuPack enables developers who maintain open source projects (for example, projects like Moq, NHibernate, Ninject, StructureMap, NUnit, Windsor, RhinoMocks, Elmah, etc) to package up their libraries and register them with an online gallery/catalog that is searchable.

It’s a pretty cool mechanism for getting .NET libraries.  For other open source developers this concept isn’t something new (i.e., gems).  But for .NET developers it might be because it is a difference from the way we typically have received dependent and 3rd party assemblies for our projects.  It provides a PowerShell script mechanism for adding packages as well as the well-known “Add Reference” gesture for VS developers.

All the initial information around NuPack has been from folks like Scott Guthrie, Phil Haack, David Ebbo, etc.  You might recognize these names from the ASP.NET world.  In fact if you do your first “list-package” command you’ll see a lot of ASP.NET-related packages.  If you didn’t know any better and weren’t an ASP.NET developer you might ignore this.  However, NuPack is for everyone!

One of the most commonly installed items for Silverlight developers after the toolset is the Silverlight Toolkit.  It is a plethora of controls that frankly you probably can’t live without (at least one of them) if you are developing a broad Silverlight application.  After spending a few minutes reading on NuPack I decided to explore.

My initial playground – Building the MyNuLibrary package

I first just wanted to play around and created a Silverlight class library MyNuLibrary.  It has one class Math that just has two functions.  The contents is pretty much irrelevant here.  I wanted to create a package for this and test it out.

In my project structure I decided to put the tools in the project.  To be clear, this felt completely wrong.  My “tools” shouldn’t be a part of my project.  I think this will be resolved with better build task integration, but for now to create a package you need the NuPack.exe tool.  I put that and NuPack.Core.dll in a Tools folder in my project.  I then created my manifest (MyNuLibrary.nuspec) file as follows and put it in the root of my project (marking the build action as None of course):

   1: <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
   2: <package xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/packaging/2010/07/nuspec.xsd">
   3:     <metadata>
   4:         <id>MyNuLibrary</id>
   5:         <version>1.4</version>
   6:         <authors>
   7:             <author>Tim Heuer</author>
   8:         </authors>
   9:         <language>en-US</language>
  10:         <description>Custom Silvelright Math library</description>
  11:     </metadata>
  12:     <files src="bin\debug\MyNuLibrary.dll" target="lib\SL4" />
  13: </package>

You can see that the <files/> node tells the package where to put things.  Notice the lib\SL4 target attribute value.  This tells NuPack (and installers of the package) that this library is really targeting Silverlight 4 (uses TargetFramework value of the source project when installing the package to verify).  There is more information on the NuPack project site about this.

Since my tools were relative to the root I needed to provide the bin\debug path in the source attribute value.  Initially this caused me problems as the NuPack.exe unmodified then bundled them into lib\SL4\bin\debug\MyNuLibrary.dll path.  When installing (using add-package) it failed because it said it couldn’t find any assembly that would match my project.  Apparently right now NuPack expects binaries to be in the framework folders, but not in tree structure.  For me, I modified PathResolver (in NuPack.Core):

   1: if (actualPath.StartsWith(basePath, StringComparison.OrdinalIgnoreCase))
   2:     {
   3:         //packagePath = actualPath.Substring(basePath.Length).TrimStart(Path.DirectorySeparatorChar);
   4:         packagePath = Path.GetFileName(actualPath);
   5:     }
   6:     else
   7:     {
   8:         packagePath = Path.GetFileName(actualPath);
   9: }

for my needs.  I’ve communicated the issue to some folks on the NuPack core team and I think there may be some changes (I haven’t submitted a patch yet until I understand the need for the original code path).  And yes, I realize my change above effectively makes the if…else do the same thing and thus the if…else isn’t needed.  Again, I’m awaiting confirmation of the valid scenarios before submitting what I think the patch should be.

All that aside, I then added a post-build event to my project (note I added quoted params here which is not in the CodePlex documentation sample – if you don’t use quotes and you have spaces in your paths, then your post-build will fail…adding the quotes saves you time):

   1: "$(ProjectDir)Tools\NuPack.exe" "$(ProjectDir)MyNuLibrary.nspec"

And upon build I now have a MyNuLibrary.1.4.nupkg file as an artifact of my build.  Done!  If we look at the contents (it’s actually just a OPC ZIP file we can see the structure and you’ll notice that our binary is in the lib\SL4 folder.

Surfacing MyNuLibrary package

The next step is to have your package visible somewhere.  The NuPack VS shell and the Add Reference dialog can recognize 2 types of paths: an Atom feed or a local directory.  For testing I just used a local directory using the settings in VS:

NuPack source locations

And then when I run list-package it shows only my packages from that “feed”:

NuPack list-package output

Now I can consume it.

Consuming MyNuLibrary package

Now I can start a new Silverlight project and open up the VS Package Window and initiate a command to add the package.  I call add-package MyNuLibrary and see that my Silverlight project gets the reference automatically included in my project (and the literal binary is placed alongside my solution for the reference path):

NuPack consuming add-package

And I’m done.  Pretty cool.  Any updates I (as the library author) would just update my .nuspec file to the new version, generate a new package, and publish it again.  The app developer can initiate update-package MyNuLibrary and get the updated bits.

Real world – Silverlight Toolkits

While my above exercise was interesting and demonstrated that NuPack could be used for Silverlight projects as well (ahem, SilverlightContrib) I thought I’d explore a more useful sample.  I took the Silverlight Toolkit binaries and packaged them up for NuPack.  Here was my manifest:

   1: <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
   2: <package xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/packaging/2010/07/nuspec.xsd">
   3:     <metadata>
   4:         <id>SilverlightToolkit</id>
   5:         <version>4.0.40413.2020</version>
   6:         <authors>
   7:             <author>Microsoft</author>
   8:         </authors>
   9:         <language>en-US</language>
  10:         <description>Silverlight Toolkit providing a set of controls</description>
  11:     </metadata>
  12:     <files src="Binaries\System.Windows.Controls.Toolkit.dll" target="lib\SL4" />
  13:     <files src="Binaries\System.Windows.Controls.Input.Toolkit.dll" target="lib\SL4" />
  14:     <files src="Binaries\System.Windows.Controls.Layout.Toolkit.dll" target="lib\SL4" />
  15:     <files src="Binaries\System.Windows.Controls.Data.Toolkit.dll" target="lib\SL4" />
  16:     <files src="Binaries\System.Windows.Controls.DataVisualization.Toolkit.dll" target="lib\SL4" />
  17: </package>

Since the source code is available for the toolkit I just used that base (hence the “Binaries”) folder name in the manifest.

The end result is me being able to include the Silverlight Toolkit and referencing it in one step rather than downloading, installing the MSI, and adding references.  Here’s a quick video of how simple that was:

Get Microsoft Silverlight

Awesome huh?  Now I could (and probably should have) actually made these independent packages so you could only get the Visualizations if you didn’t need anything else…and then could use the dependency feature of NuPack if needed.

Notice how I also did the Silverlight for Windows Phone Toolkit as well and that it automatically added the Icons for the ApplicationBar in my project as well.  That was due to a helpful tip from Phil about naming conventions in the package.


I think NuPack is pretty cool  Yes, flame away that it is nothing new conceptually.  That’s fine.  However the interation into the tool I use most is great and that I don’t have to go to a different console window and then back and forth.  That level of integration is pretty slick.

Will the Silverlight Toolkit(s) be deployed like this?  Who knows, right now it is just an experiment.  But it was pretty cool to see it all working as expected.  I think for an alpha view of the process it’s pretty good.  Oh and if you want IntelliSense on the nuspec file, they’ve published the schema so you can put that in a text file (nuspec.xsd) and place it in your %ProgramFiles%\Microsoft Visual Studio 10.0\Xml\Schemas directory.  Then notice my xmlns that I have in the snippets above?  Adding that will give you IntelliSense on the file format.

Hope this helps!