Visual Studio project#
Briefcase supports creating a full Visual Studio project for a Windows App. This
project can then be used to build the stub app binary with the
build command, or directly from Visual Studio.
Building the Visual Studio project requires that you install Visual Studio 2022 or later. Visual Studio 2022 Community Edition can be downloaded for free from Microsoft. You can also use the Professional or Enterprise versions if you have them.
Briefcase will auto-detect the location of your Visual Studio installation, provided one of the following three things are true:
You install Visual Studio in the standard location in your Program Files folder.
MSBuild.exeis on your path.
You define the environment variable
MSBUILDthat points at the location of your
When you install Visual Studio, there are many optional components. You should ensure that you have installed the following:
.NET Desktop Development - All default packages
Desktop Development with C++ - All default packages - C++/CLI support for v143 build tools
Briefcase supports two packaging formats for a Windows App:
As an MSI installer
As a ZIP file containing all files needed to run the app
Briefcase uses the WiX Toolset to build an MSI installer for a Windows App. WiX, in turn, requires that .NET Framework 3.5 is enabled. To ensure .NET Framework 3.5 is enabled:
Open the Windows Control Panel
Traverse to Programs -> Programs and Features
Select “Turn Windows features On or Off”
Ensure that “.NET framework 3.5 (includes .NET 2.0 and 3.0)” is selected.
Windows apps installers use multi-format
.ico icons; these icons should
contain images in the following sizes:
Splash Image format#
Windows Apps do not support splash screens or installer images.
The following options can be provided at the command line when packaging Windows apps.
The digest algorithm to use for code signing files in the project. Defaults to
By default, the certificate for code signing is assumed to be in the Current User’s certificate stores. Use this flag to indicate the certificate is in the Local Machine’s certificate stores.
The internal Windows name for the certificate store containing the certificate
for code signing. Defaults to
Intermediate Certification Authorities
Third-Party Root Certification Authorities
Trusted Root Certification Authorities
The URL of the Timestamp Authority server to timestamp the code signing.
The digest algorithm to request the Timestamp Authority server uses for the
timestamp for code signing. Defaults to
The following options can be added to the
tool.briefcase.app.<appname>.windows section of your
Controls whether the app will be installed as a per-user or per-machine app. Per-machine apps are “system” apps, and require admin permissions to run the installer; however, they are installed once and shared between all users on a computer.
true the installer will attempt to install the app as a per-machine app,
available to all users. If
false, the installer will install as a per-user
app. If undefined the installer will ask the user for their preference.
Controls whether the app will be installed using a path which includes both the
application name and the company or developer’s name. If
default), the app will be installed to
Program Files\<Author Name>\<Project
false, it will be installed to
Program Files\<Project Name>.
Using the full path makes sense for larger companies with multiple applications,
but less so for a solo developer.
Python and Briefcase allow any valid PEP440 version number as a
version specifier. However, MSI
installers require a strict integer triple version number. Many
PEP440-compliant version numbers, such as “1.2”, “1.2.3b3”, and “184.108.40.206”, are
invalid for MSI installers.
Briefcase will attempt to convert your
version into a valid MSI value by
extracting the first three parts of the main series version number (excluding
pre, post and dev version indicators), padding with zeros if necessary:
However, if you need to override this default value, you can define
version_triple in your app settings. If provided, this value will be used
in the MSI configuration file instead of the auto-generated value.
Use caution with
Care should be taken when using the
--update-support option to the
run commands. Support packages in Windows apps are
overlaid with app content, so it isn’t possible to remove all old support files
before installing new ones.
Briefcase will unpack the new support package without cleaning up existing support package content. This should work; however, ensure a reproducible release artefacts, it is advisable to perform a clean app build before release.
--adhoc-sign option on Windows results in no signing being
performed on the packaged app. This will result in your application being
flagged as coming from an unverified publisher. This may limit who can (or is
willing to) install your app.