With the recent release of NuPack beta, SQL Server Compact 4.0 CTP is now available as a .zip file. a feature requested by many users: since SQL Server Compact is just a collection of DLL files, why do you need to install an MSI to get hold of these DLL files.
NuPack has the purpose of simplifying the process of incorporating third party libraries into a .NET application during development. An introduction to NuPack is available here.
You can download the NuPack add-in here.
Once you have downloaded the add-in, you can add the SQLCE package from the References context menu in Solution Explorer, using the new “Add Package Reference” dialog:
Let’s have a closer look at the contents of the SQLCE NuPackage and the changes it makes to your project.
As you can see with “Show All Files” enabled, the installation has added a packages folder to the file system:
Let’s Open Folder in Windows Explorer and have a closer look:
The packages\SQLCE.4.0.8402.1 folder contains the .zip file that constitutes the SQLCE package, and folders with content from this .zip file:
Content contains a file with changes to your projects web.config or app.config file, which enables the SQLCE 4.0 DbProviderFactory, the lib folder contains the .NET DLL to be installed and referenced, the NativeBinaries folder contains two folders for the platform specific parts of the SQL Server Compact 4.0 engine. and finally, the tools folder contains scripts to add a post build job to your project, that copies the files in the NativeBinaries folder to the bin folder.
(This custom PowerShell solution for copying the native DLL files may be changed to a more general solution in the future: http://nupack.codeplex.com/workitem/109 )
So in summary, NuPack helps with many of the manual process involved in privately deploying SQL Server Compact 4.0.