ClickOnce is a deployment technology that enables you to create self-updating Windows-based applications that can be installed and run with minimal user interaction. ClickOnce deployment provides 3 major benefits for any .NET application:
- Updates are provided automatically, downloading only those parts of the application that have changed.
- Each application is self-contained and cannot interfere with other applications.
- Deployment enables non-administrative users to install, granting only those security permissions necessary for the application.
As manufacturers of an ECM platform built on the .NET Framework, we are able to take advantage of ClickOnce to provide simple deployment of the complex and powerful applications we create. Personally, I’ve found that ClickOnce strikes an excellent balance between the two things most often encountered in enterprise environments: requirements for rich client applications that can be frequently and rapidly updated, and the simple access and deployment thin client web applications are known for.
When software needs to be deployed to many users across an entire enterprise organization, like is often the case with our content management product, ILINX Content Store, ClickOnce successfully gets the software where it needs to be, when it needs to be there. This also holds true for our capture and workflow product, ILINX Capture, which requires complex interaction with both other software suites and several classes of image capture hardware.
But what if your platform has limitations that prevents you from taking this route, forcing you to package the software into a .MSI file instead? This is adequate for some situations, but quickly becomes a pain to deploy proportional to the number of machines it needs to be installed on.
Facing this challenge with our electronic forms product, ILINX eForms, we have found a workaround that allows us to avoid the headache of one-at-a-time deployment .MSI files create. In short, the same API used to build the standard ILINX eForms client is available for use in building custom .NET applications, which allows you the freedom and flexibility to integrate ILINX eForms into your own .NET software. When combining this benefit with even basic ClickOnce configuration, you end up with a strong, rich-client application that can be seamlessly deployed and updated across your organization as needed in a matter of seconds.
But what about building out the custom app itself? The highlights of that process will be covered in a future entry, but if you’re ready to go right now, just open up the Help file in your copy of the ILINX eForms Designer and take a look at the Standalone Application contents section for some guidelines to help get you started.