Package anything

Package anything

Chocolatey brings with it the concept of a Universal Packaging format for Windows. At the heart of this is PowerShell, the automation language for Windows.

Since on a Windows machine you can pretty much do “anything” with PowerShell, you can pretty much do “anything” within a Chocolatey package. If you need to

  • install an msi or an exe
  • deploy a standalone binary
  • unzip an archive file
  • place some scripts into a particular folder

Then you can do all of these with Chocolatey. The benefit comes that you will then know exactly what version of these artifacts are deployed onto any machine, and as a result, you will know when some of these artifacts need to be updated. Gone are the days of guessing at what version of a binary is deployed onto any given machine.

When you couple this with the knowledge that a single Chocolatey package can take a dependency on another Chocolatey package, then you can quite quickly see how simple it can be to chain together a complex installation scenario. For example, let’s imagine that you want to install the vscode package, but you also wanted to perform some custom configuration after the installation was performed. You could create a separate package called vscode-config, which takes a dependency on vscode, and in that package, you could perform all the necessary configuration that you wanted to achieve. Then, when you run:

choco install vscode-config

Chocolatey will first ensure that all dependencies for this package are met, and will install the vscode package. Once complete, the installation of the vscode-config package will happen, and your custom configuration will be applied. The beauty of this approach is separation of concerns that can be achieved. Here the installation of vscode is completed as a single unit of work, and then the custom configuration is applied afterward.

On top of this, Chocolatey has the concept of extension packages, which means that you can encapsulate common operations into a single Chocolatey package, which can then be used as a dependency on any other package that needs that functionality. This makes it incredibly simple to consolidate re-usable scripts into a versioned package, that can be used across multiple computers, and packages. A prime example of this is the chocolatey-core.extension package which was created by the Chocolatey Community to provide additional functionality on top of the core functions of Chocolatey itself.