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How to create APPX package

How to create APPX package

Universal Windows Platform (UWP) format is getting increasingly important for modern application packaging, and repackaging installers to APPX packages is the best way to bring your desktop apps to the Universal Windows Platform. Use this guide if you want to create APPX package from scratch. To convert your installer to APPX, view this tutorial.

Why use PACE Suite to create APPX package?

Our approach to creating UWP packages is to make the creation of APPX packages as easy as possible. There is no need to deep-dive into the details of the APPX technology, install Windows SDK components, and prepare peculiar environments to start packaging in this new format. PACE Suite 4.4 can build APPX packages independently in your standard packaging environment under Windows 10 or Windows Server 2016 or newer. PACE Suite does not use any third-party utilities (like MakeAPPX.exe) and SDK that either get updates significantly less often than Windows itself or even do not receive updates at all. As our approach uses only Windows libraries that get updated alongside the OS, PACE Suite is always up-to-date when it comes to creating APPX packages.

Create APPX package from scratch

When creating UWP app package from scratch with PACE Suite, you add folders, files, registry entries and APPX apps (shortcuts) to the project and then generate the Universal Windows Platfrorm app package (APPX) from this project. To try everything from this guide, download a free PACE Suite trial. Launch MSI Generator and click Create blank project.

create appx from scratch

Enter a project name and click Create.

enter appx project name

Once the newly created project is opened automatically, you can start adding the necessary resources using MSI Generator. Once the newly created project is opened automatically, you can start adding the necessary resources using MSI Generator. In order to create a folder and import files, go to the Files tab.

appx files tab

In the left pane, select New folder from the context menu of a folder, where you want to create a new empty folder. Note that the left ‘Files Included’ pane displays files and folders, which will be a part of your package, and the right ‘Files Excluded’ pane displays files and folders, which will not be saved to the package.

new folder in appx

Enter a folder name and click Create.

new appx folder name

For adding files to your project, select Import files from the context menu of a folder, to which you want to import files.

import files to appx

Choose files, which you want to import to the project and click Open.

choose files to import

In order to import registry entries from the REG file, go to the Registry tab and click the Import registry button, located in the bottom part of the window. Note that the left ‘Registry Included’ pane displays registry keys and values, which will be a part of your package, and the right ‘Registry Excluded’ pane displays registry keys and values, which will not be saved to the package.

import registry to appx

Choose a REG file, which you want to import to the project, and click Open.

choose registry files

Click Ok to close the information dialog. If you need to add an APPX app (shortcut) and its logos, go to the Shortcuts and FTAs -> APPX apps tab and click New application…

appx shortcut

Select the main executable file (EXE) of your application from the tree and click Select.

select exe for appx

Using the details pane, you can update the APPX app display name, description, and visual assets such as background color and logos, which will be displayed in the Start menu.

edit appx

In order to create APPX package from your project, navigate to the Package -> APPX tab, fill-in all the required fields, select the digital signing option and click Build APPX. Find description of the APPX settings below in the table.

build appx

Application details

Display name. A friendly name of the package that can be displayed to users.
Publisher display name. A friendly name for the publisher of the package that can be displayed to users.
Description. A friendly description that can be displayed to users.
Application root folder. A location of the main application folder. The content of the selected folder will be placed in the package root, instead of VFS.
Logo (50×50). A logo image of the package that can be displayed to users.

Signature

Do not sign the package. Use this option if you are planning to submit the package to Windows Store or sign it manaully.
Sign the package with my certificate. Use this option to sign the generated package with the valid certificate that you already have.
Sign the package with an auto-generated self-signed certificate. Use this option to generate the self-signed certificate and sign the package with this certificate. NOTE In order to deploy your package, install the generated certificate before (double-click the auto-generated.pfx file, and in the Certificate Import Wizard, install the certificate onto the Local Machine, and place the certificate in the Trusted People certificate store) and enable the Developer mode in Windows settings, as described in the next step.

Identity information

Name. Describes the contents of the package.
Мersion. The version number of the package.
Publisher. Describes the publisher information. The Publisher attribute must match the publisher subject information of the certificate used to sign a package.
Processor architecture. Describes the architecture of the code contained in the package.

If you decide to create APPX package with the Sign the package with the auto-generated self-signed certificate option selected, do not forget to install that generated certificate to the Trusted People certificate store and enable the Developer mode in the Windows settings to install the self-signed package.

windows developer mode on

Click Go to…, located next to the Project folder field, to open the package containing folder in Windows Explorer.

find appx

That is all you need to do to create APPX package using PACE Suite. Download a free PACE Suite trial now to try creating UWP app packages yourself and contact iur support in case you have any questions.