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It appears Visual Studio 2010's out of the box functionality for Deploy retracts and installs my features. Can I tell it instead to perform an update-spsolution instead of removing the entire thing?

This isn't a real-life scenario as on test and production environments i will be performing an update, not a removal and reinstall.

Thanks!

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You can install CKSDev extension using VS.NET extension Manager, if you have not already done so. It provides a project configuration called Upgrade Solution. You can switch to it by going to project properties as shown below:

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By going to Project’s property pages (SharePoint tab), you can also inspect what actions it takes.

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Using CKSDev you can also create your own deploying configuration (SharePoint tab in project's properties) with extra steps that CKSDev adds, including call to external powershell scripts. I like this extension a lot :)

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    It's my favorite too! Jan 17, 2012 at 20:47

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