Tutorial: Publish a .NET console application using Visual Studio

This tutorial shows how to publish a console app so that other users can run it. Publishing creates the set of files that are needed to run your application. To deploy the files, copy them to the target machine.

Prerequisites

Publish the app

  1. Start Visual Studio.

  2. Open the HelloWorld project that you created in Create a .NET console application using Visual Studio.

  3. Make sure that Visual Studio is using the Release build configuration. If necessary, change the build configuration setting on the toolbar from Debug to Release.

    Visual Studio toolbar with release build selected

  4. Right-click on the HelloWorld project (not the HelloWorld solution) and select Publish from the menu.

    Visual Studio Publish context menu

  5. On the Target tab of the Publish page, select Folder, and then select Next.

    Pick a publish target in Visual Studio

  6. On the Specific Target tab of the Publish page, select Folder, and then select Next.

    Pick the specific publish target in Visual Studio

  7. On the Location tab of the Publish page, select Finish.

    Visual Studio Publish page Location tab

  8. On the Publish tab of the Publish window, select Publish.

    Visual Studio Publish window

Inspect the files

By default, the publishing process creates a framework-dependent deployment, which is a type of deployment where the published application runs on machine that has the .NET runtime installed. Users can run the published app by double-clicking the executable or issuing the dotnet HelloWorld.dll command from a command prompt.

In the following steps, you'll look at the files created by the publish process.

  1. In Solution Explorer, select Show all files.

  2. In the project folder, expand bin/Release/net5.0/publish.

    Solution Explorer showing published files

    As the image shows, the published output includes the following files:

    • HelloWorld.deps.json

      This is the application's runtime dependencies file. It defines the .NET components and the libraries (including the dynamic link library that contains your application) needed to run the app. For more information, see Runtime configuration files.

    • HelloWorld.dll

      This is the framework-dependent deployment version of the application. To execute this dynamic link library, enter dotnet HelloWorld.dll at a command prompt. This method of running the app works on any platform that has the .NET runtime installed.

    • HelloWorld.exe

      This is the framework-dependent executable version of the application. To run it, enter HelloWorld.exe at a command prompt. The file is operating-system-specific.

    • HelloWorld.pdb (optional for deployment)

      This is the debug symbols file. You aren't required to deploy this file along with your application, although you should save it in the event that you need to debug the published version of your application.

    • HelloWorld.runtimeconfig.json

      This is the application's run-time configuration file. It identifies the version of .NET that your application was built to run on. You can also add configuration options to it. For more information, see .NET run-time configuration settings.

Run the published app

  1. In Solution Explorer, right-click the publish folder, and select Copy Full Path.

  2. Open a command prompt and navigate to the publish folder. To do that, enter cd and then paste the full path. For example:

    cd C:\Projects\HelloWorld\bin\Release\netcoreapp3.1\publish\
    
  3. Run the app by using the executable:

    1. Enter HelloWorld.exe and press Enter.

    2. Enter a name in response to the prompt, and press any key to exit.

  4. Run the app by using the dotnet command:

    1. Enter dotnet HelloWorld.dll and press Enter.

    2. Enter a name in response to the prompt, and press any key to exit.

Additional resources

Next steps

In this tutorial, you published a console app. In the next tutorial, you create a class library.