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After listening closely to feedback from both developers and end users, we’re today releasing an update to the platform that simplifies how add-ons are managed. The update contains two major changes: A unified add-on format and the possibility to disable one-click installations of add-ons. Let’s dig a little bit deeper into what this really means.
All add-ons will moving forward be built using the standard NuGet format from Microsoft. This means that there is no difference in creating an add-on depending on if it should be installed as a one-click add-on or deployed as a solution add-on through Visual Studio.
Solutions can now be configured if they should allow one-click installations of add-ons or if all add-ons should be deployed through Visual Studio. The Add-on Store inside EPiServer will in the latter case be used only for browsing as well as to see what add-ons that are installed in a specific solution.
There are quite a few differences in deploying an add-on using one-click compared to doing a solution deployment through Visual Studio.
The advantage with managing all the add-ons as standard NuGet packages within Visual Studio is that it makes it easier for you to take care of dependencies as well as to integrate add-ons in your deployment and testing routines. It also makes it possible to have all the add-ons in your source code repository if you want to take care of versioning. Some add-ons also have their own APIs, and in that case you will need to manage them inside Visual Studio since they will be used as dependencies for your custom code.
The advantage of one click installation is that business users can select and try out the add-ons themselves, without going through IT. This is something we recommend for smaller sites as well as in test and demo environments. A one-click installation will deploy that add-on only to the specific instance that you’re currently working on. This means that in load balanced environments we recommend using solution deployment instead.
It might be worth pointing out that the option to create an Enterprise Add-on Store is still available. With this you can allow business users to one-click install add-ons that you have approved and maintain in a central repository. This is something that might be an option to for example a large enterprise company with several small market and campaign sites across the globe. You can also setup your own NuGet feed if you want to do the same for add-ons that are deployed through Visual Studio instead.
We have made a list that shows the formats that the EPiServer verified add-ons are currently available in. See link below. Our goal is that all our add-ons should be available in standard NuGet format later this year. You will notice that some add-ons that previously were enabled for one-click installation will no longer be so depending on the fact that they require specific external libraries to be installed.
I have a solution with one or several one-click installation add-ons. I want to manage them through Visual Studio instead. How do I move forward?
Make sure you have moved the protected modules inside the website, see blog post for details. If you want to keep any configuration files, make sure that you copy the add-on configuration file for each add-on located under modules/_protected. After that you can uninstall the add-on from within the Add-on Store and then go to Visual Studio and install the add-on. If you copied any configuration files, paste it into the folder of the new add-on. Please note that most add-ons keep their information/content in the DDS and it won’t be removed during uninstallation, but as always, don’t start with production.
I have previously created a one-click add-on. How can I convert it to standard NuGet?
Add-ons that are currently created as one-click installation add-ons will need to be converted to the standard NuGet format. We have released a tool that does exactly that. See link below.
For how long will the old add-on format work?
To be able to deploy an add-on through Visual Studio it of course needs to be in the standard NuGet format. The Add-on Store UI accepts both the old and the new format for a transition period. In about 3 months we will only accept the standard NuGet format. So please start converting your add-ons.