Windows Services in C#: Adding the Installer (part 3)

OK, you’ve crafted your service, now you’re ready to install it so you can test. To do so you’ll need to create an installer for your project. However, you don’t create an installer in the traditional fashion.

Instead, switch to the “TimeLoggerService.cs [Design]” tab. Now in that big gray area right click, and pick “Add Installer”.

[Picture of Add Installer Menu]

Visual Studio will do some magic and you’ll have a new ProjectInstaller.cs added to your project. It also added a few new references to the solution. If the “ProjectInstaller.cs [Design]” tab is not up, bring it up, and click on the serviceInstaller1 item.

Let’s start by giving it a decent name, I chose ArcaneTimeLoggerServiceInstaller. Now for the Description property I entered “The Arcane Code Time Logging Service”. For DisplayName I gave it “Arcane Code Time Logger”. Finally, I’m leaving the StartType property to Manual, you may wish to alter this for your “real world” service.

Now go back and click on the serviceProcessInstaller1. We’ll change it’s name to ArcaneTimeLoggerServiceProcessInstaller. If you remember the discussion from part 1, you will recall a discussion about the security. Here in the Account property is where you will want to set that. Since all this sample does is a minimal amount of logging, I can go with a fairly low level of security and set to “LocalSystem”.

OK, we’re almost done. Right click the project name (in my case TimeLogger) and select properties from the menu. (Note, make sure to click the project, not the solution!) Now on the Application tab, under “Startup object” pick TimeLogger.Program. Now save everything and build your project.

Assuming your build was successful, you can now install and test your windows service. There are two ways to install, we can use the installutil.exe, or create a full blown MSI installer. Since we are just at the point of debugging, we will use the simple installutil.exe.

To preset all the pathing you’ll need for install util, we’ll need to open a Visual Studio Command Window. Start, All Programs, Microsoft Visual Studio 2005, Visual Studio Tools, Visual Studio Command Window. If you are running under Vista, STOP! Do NOT click on Visual Studio Command Window. Instead, right click and pick “Run as Administrator”. Again that’s for Vista, for XP just click since you likely have Admin rights.

The moral is without Admin rights InstallUtil fails every time, and it drove me up the wall trying to figure this out.

Now in the command window navigate to the bin\debug folder where your project compiled. Type in installutil TimeLogger.exe (or whatever you named your exe).

[Picture of Command Prompt]

If everything goes well, you s hould get the messages “The Commit phase completed successfully” and “The transacted install has completed”. Now let’s go see if we were successful.

Open the Microsoft Management Console (Start, Run, MMC)). When it opens, pick the Services and EventViewer snap-ins. Under Services, you should easily find the ArcaneTimeLogger, just double click on it and start it. Once it starts you can close the dialog.

Now head over to the Event Viewer. Click on the “Create Custom View”, to make it easy to find our log events. In the “Create Custom View” dialog, select “By source” and in the drop down check the ones for ArcaneTimeLogging. Click OK to close.

[Picture of Create Custom View]

Your view should now update to look something like this:

[Picture of MMC with our Events]

Congratulations, you’ve now coded and installed a basic windows service, and more over logged events from your service. This sample app we just created can serve as a basic template for all of your future windows services.

By the way, we should probably not get carried away with the euporia. Let’s take a moment and clean up. Return to the services area of the MMC and double click on our ArcaneTimeLogger. Now Stop the service, so it won’t be continually logging the time.

Now that it’s not running, let’s uninstall it. Return to the Visual Studio Command Window and simply type the command “installutil /u TimeLogger.exe”. The /u switch will tell InstallUtil to uninstall our service named TimeLogger.exe. And with that you’ve take care of your clean up work. Tomorrow we’ll talk a bit about debugging a windows service.