Files, Folders, and Deployment
The primary purpose of deployment is to install files on a target computer. The deployment tools in Visual Studio allow you to control where and how those files will be installed.
The File System Editor provides a representation of the file system on a target computer. The organization of the file system can differ from one computer to another and folder names can also differ; the File System Editor uses the concept of abstract folders to ensure that files are installed where you want them.
Virtual folders are a representation of Windows system folders. For example, the Desktop Folder is the equivalent of the system folder Desktop. Windows tracks the location of system folders, so no matter where the folder is located or what it is named, files placed in the Desktop Folder will always end up in the Desktop system folder. For more information, see Special Folders and Custom Folders.
You can also create your own folders and place them in a location beneath any system folder. For example, you might create an Application Data folder beneath the Application Folder — no matter where the Application Folder is located on a target computer, files placed in your Application Data folder will always be installed in the same relative location. For more information, see Adding and Removing Folders in the File System Editor.
Folders in the File System Editor can contain files, project outputs, and assemblies. Project outputs represent the items contained in another project within the solution and can include primary built output (for example, an executable file), localized resources, symbolic debug information, content files (for example, HTML pages), and the project source files. Each of these outputs is referred to as a project output group; a project output group contains the primary output (also known as the key output) plus any additional outputs and dependencies. For more information, see Adding and Removing Project Outputs in the File System Editor.
In addition, conditions can be placed on any file or folder using the Condition property. This allows you to customize the installation of files based on conditions that exist on a target computer during installation. For example, you might choose to install different files based on the operating system version on the target computer. For more information, see Conditional Deployment.
The File System Editor also supports the creation of shortcuts, allowing you to place files in one folder and point to them from a shortcut on the desktop or in another folder. For more information, see Adding and Removing Shortcuts in the File System Editor.