Deploying ASP.NET MVC 3 with Razor to a Windows Server without MVC installed on host

by 19. March 2011 10:29

The fun on this issue started when I tried to deploy a basic MVC 3 framework (stock-out-of-the-box) to my ISP server and received the following error:

"Could not load file or assembly 'System.Web.WebPages.Razor, Version=1.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=31bf3856ad364e35' or one of its dependencies. The system cannot find the file specified."

My assumption was that this namespace resided under System.Web.WebPages namespace since my project had no reference to a System.Web.WebPages.Razor assembly.   In this experience I learned that it is best to start debugging issues at  Scott Hanselmins blog; this is the second time in a week that he has helped me through a "bleeding edge" issue that was causing me to hemorrage....

I appreciated that he started this blog with the following quote - it clarified the meaning of "Bin Deploy"

If someone says "just bin Deploy it" they mean "deploy the application with the dependencies copied into the application's /bin folder, rather than running an MSI that installs the dependencies into the Global Assembly Cache (GAC)."

Even though this blog BIN Deploying ASP.NET MVC 3 with Razor to a Windows Server without MVC installed didn't resolve my issue completely (I ran into more issues) the comments within his blog helped fill in the blanks.  

In summary - follow his instructions for "The Manual Way to BIN Deploy ASP.NET MVC 3 with Razor" which will have you manually copy the following five files to the bin folder (I manually FTP them to the server's bin since I was debugging/troubleshooting):

  1. System.Web.Mvc  (I selected this dll from the references list and changed its "Copy local" property setting to True to resolve this requirement
  2. System.Web.Infrastructure.dll
  3. System.Web.Helpers.dll
  4. System.Web.Razor.dll
  5. System.Web.WebPages.dll
  6. System.WebPages.Razor.dll

From the Program Files(x86)/Microsoft ASP.NET/ASP.NET Web Pages/v1.0/Assemblies folder, which quickly dispelled my belief that the razor namespace was in System.Web.WebPages; I see now that the dependencies were solved externally.

You'll quickly find that you will require a 7th file

     7.  System.Web.WebPages.Deployment.dll (from the same folder as the above)

2011.03.27 UPDATE

 It is actually easier than noted above!!!

I understand this came with VS 2010 SP1

Right click on your MVC 3 web applicaiton and select "Add Deployable Dependencies" 

Select ASP.NET MVC (it will provide everything you need for the RazorViewEngine)

When done you will have the required assemblies in a _bin_deployableAssemblies folder! 

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