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AppDeploy Repackager FAQ

 

Does this replace the need for tools like AdminStudio and Package Studio?

That is not the intention of the AppDeploy Repackager. Admin suites like these offer much more functionality for the thousands of dollars you pay for them. AppDeploy Repackager serves to produce a simple MSI setup based on file and registry values only from changes detected during a standard snapshot process. For editing an MSI database, it is recommended that you try InstEd. For a more detailed list of what the AppDeploy Repackager does and does not do, see below.

Why did you create the AppDeploy Repackager?

For simple editing of MSI databases, we have ORCA and more recently InstEd (as a recommended alternative) as free tools that may be leveraged. You would not create a complex setup using such tools, but they are helpful when viewing and editing. On the other hand, repackaging is often an afterthought of setup tools and as part of such a feature rich suite end up being quite expensive. The AppDeploy Repackager was created to offer the community two things:

  • A simple freeware repackager
  • A means of sharing packages with others in the community

How do I use the AppDeploy Repackager?

While the intention is to make documentation less and less necessary with each release through an increasingly intuitive wizard interface, some quick documentation for the current release may be found here.

What does the AppDeploy Repackager do?

The AppDeploy Repackager has two basic functions: creating project files based on a system snapshot and the creation of a project file and Windows Installer setup.

  • It performs a snapshot of the file and registry systems before and after an installation is performed in order to determine the intended changes of the setup being repackaged
  • An exclusion list is included, and may be easily updated, to automatically disregard desired folders and registry items
  • The exclusion list feature offers a description field so you can document such items.
  • It generates a shareable project file
  • It generates an MSI setup (based on the contents of the project file)
  • The tool can create a MSI

What does the AppDeploy Repackager NOT do?

  • It does not include the ability to view or edit an MSI file
  • It handles only file and registry data. Therefore more complex setups requiring the following may fail to perform as expected:
    • Services
    • Device drivers
    • Environment variables

Also note that the file and registry is saved during initial and second snapshots. These saved copies are what is used to determine changes (comparison is not done against the live file system or registry). Processing of DLL’s and ActiveX object that can not be identified via registry or file system changes may result in registration issues.

Why can the AppDeploy Repackager project files be shared?

Unlike most such project files, the AppDeploy Repackager utilizes a specialized format designed to contain no personal information or binaries. Included in the project file are simply pointers to source files and registry values which are collected from the local system at the time an MSI is built. No registry data means no serial numbers or other personally identifiable information will be a concern.

To utilize such a project file, you need simply install, license and configure the software as desired and then build an MSI file using the shared project file (eliminating the need to perform a snapshot as well as the review process required to exclude any problematic/undesired items).

Where do I download and upload AppDeploy Repackager project files?

Eventually a portal will be provided to upload, download, rate and comment on shared AppDeploy Repackager project files. Until then, a special forum has been setup at AppDeploy to support the sharing of these project files.

How do I create an AppDeploy Repackager project file?

When you Create a project file based on system changes a project file is automatically generated as part of the process. By default the project file is created with the name and version of the application being repackaged and is stored in a subdirectory named "packages" based on the root folder from which the AppDeploy Repackager was launched. Project files use the XML file extension (and may be reviewed or even edited your favorite text editor).

How do I make use of an AppDeploy Repackager project file?

To make use of an AppDeploy Repackager project file, you need simply install, license and configure the software as desired. When ready, run the AppDeploy Repackager and choose Build package based from project file to generate an MSI file based on the local system's file and registry data (eliminating the need to perform a snapshot as well as the review process required to exclude any problematic/undesired items).

What community tips and tricks exist for AppDeploy Repackager?

There is this helpful YouTube video from Walking Help Desk and another community member has documented how to use AppDeploy Repackager in German.

Know of another contribution? Please let us know!

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The AppDeploy Repackager Shareable File Format

Developed with sharing in mind, the AppDeploy Repackager utilizes a unique project file format designed to be safely shared with others in the community. It's XML based file structure contains no identifiable information such as license or company information.

For files, the project file simply points to where the file is to be found. Environment variables are used to minimize file path differences between systems, but no files are actually contained in the shareable project file. It is registry entries that would normally be a concern when sharing such work. However no registry data is contained within the project file-- only pointers to values in the registry. When a project file is used to create an MSI, all the files and registry data are collected based on the contents of the local system.

When you create a snapshot with the AppDeploy Repackager, a project file is created and used as part of that process. At this point, all the file and registry entries specified in the project are known to exist on the local system (because that is where they were detected). If you have a project file and wish to build an MSI, you need simply install and configure the software as desired, then use the AppDeploy Repackager to build an MSI using a project file (forgoing the need to perform a snapshot).

So where are these project files files? Plans are underway for a user portal that will support the sharing of files along with community ratings and comments for each. 

 

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The AppDeploy Repackager

The AppDeploy Repackager v1.2

Downlload the AppDeploy RepackagerThe AppDeploy Repackager is a simple freeware snapshot tool for the creation of Windows Installer (MSI) setup packages. Unlike other tools that try to take on the whole drag and drop creation of MSI setups (development tools), the AppDeploy Repackager is simply a snapshot tool that results in a sharable project file which may be used to generate an MSI setup with the click of a button. If you need to edit an MSI, we recommend InstEd (or ORCA) -- this tool is for repackaging legacy setups into MSI packages via a simple snapshot mechanism. Download it now!

Features

  • Shareable file format lets you share your packages and leverage those shared by your peers
  • Provides (and lets you build on) an exclusion list which includes a description field
  • May be run from network share to better keep your reference computer free of unnecessary changes
  • It is provided free to the AppDeploy community

Requirements

  • Windows XP SP2 or later (32-bit), Windows Vista SP1 or later (32-bit)
  • 1GB of RAM
  • A clean system on which to perform repackaging operations

More Information

 

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How to use the AppDeploy Repackager

Working with the AppDeploy Repackager

The AppDeploy Repackager was built with the sharing nature of the community in mind. You may use the AppDeploy Repackager to generate a new MSI from scratch, or you may use it to build an MSI from a project file you have downloaded. For more on the AppDeploy Repackager shareable file format, please click here.

Note: It is recommended that the AppDeploy Repackager be executed from a network share in order to minimize changes to your clean, test system being used to perform snapshots. Starting with a clean machine better ensures all changes made by the setup are executed so that they may be detected during the snapshot process. While you may need to install any dependencies for the software with which you are working, a "clean machine" is typically a designated test workstation with no more than the OS, service pack and necessary patches representing your target environment.

Download the AppDeploy Repackager Here

 

Creating a project file/MSI

  • Launch the AppDeploy Repackager
  • Press the Next button to begin
  • Select Create a project file based on system changes
    • Setup File Location: type or browse for the setup to be captured. Once selected the remaining fields will be filled based on file meta information when available.
    • Application Name: the name of the installation being captured
    • Version: the version of the installation being captured
    • Company Name: the company for the installation to be captured
  • Press the Next button to continue
  • A summary of what will be scanned is shown, but you can optionally press the Advanced button to modify what is to be included in the snapshot.
  • Press the Take Initial Snapshot button. On a clean machine (recommended) this should take only a couple of minutes-- progress is updated until complete.
  • Press the Launch Setup button to begin the installation. Run through the installation, launch the product, configure and license it if desired. When satisfied with the installation and configuration, click the Next button to continue.
  • Press the Second Snapshot button to perform a second scan of the system and compare for detected changes.
  • Next you may expand the included and excluded item lists to review the file contents of your package as well as what has been excluded. To exclude an item, select it from the list on the left, enter a description and press the >> button. To include an item that has been excluded, simply check it and press the << button. Selecting an excluded item will update the description box with the current description for the item. If you wish to update this, edit the text directly and press the Save button. When satisfied with the contents, press the Next button to continue.
  • A similar screen is displayed which operates in the same way, this time focused on the registry contents of your package with an opportunity to include/exclude as desired. When satisfied with the contents, press the Next button to continue.
  • This last screen lets you specify shortcuts as well as where the package and project files are to be generated:
    • For each shortcut you'd like to include, select the executable from the drop-down list and press the Select button. For each shortcut, you may update the display name and choose where the shortcut should be placed (Desktop, Program Menu, or both).
    • The default path for creating output is a sub-folder named "Packages" located from wherever the AppDeploy Repackager was executed. If running from Program Files, the folder will be created there, if run from a network path, the new folder will be generated there.
    • You can create a project file by pressing the Create Project File button, or create the project file and an MSI by pressing the Create Project File and Build MSI button.
  • With the results created, you may press the Finish button to close the application.

Building a MSI from a project file

  • Launch the AppDeploy Repackager
  • Press the Next button to begin
  • Select Build package based from project file. The remaining fields should populate automatically based on the contents of the project file, but you may update any if desired. When satisfied with the values shown, press the Next button to continue.
  • Next, you may review the contents of the project file and locate any files missing from the project. If a desired registry entry appears missing, launch the application, change program settings, exit and press the button to rescan for registry entries. Press the Next button to continue.
  • On this last screen you may press the Build MSI button to create an MSI based on the files and registry entries specified in the project.
  • With the results created, you may press the Finish button to close the application.

 

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AppDeploy Repackager Frequently Asked Questions

Download the AppDeploy Repackager here 

Does this replace the need for tools like AdminStudio and Package Studio?

That is not the intention of the AppDeploy Repackager. Admin suites like these offer much more functionality for the thousands of dollars you pay for them. AppDeploy Repackager serves to produce a simple MSI setup based on file and registry values only from changes detected during a standard snapshot process. For editing an MSI database, it is recommended that you try InstEd. For a more detailed list of what the AppDeploy Repackager does and does not do, see below.

Why did you create the AppDeploy Repackager?

For simple editing of MSI databases, we have ORCA and more recently InstEd (as a recommended alternative) as free tools that may be leveraged. You would not create a complex setup using such tools, but they are helpful when viewing and editing. On the other hand, repackaging is often an afterthought of setup tools and as part of such a feature rich suite end up being quite expensive. The AppDeploy Repackager was created to offer the community two things:

  • A simple freeware repackager
  • A means of sharing packages with others in the community

How do I use the AppDeploy Repackager?

While the intention is to make documentation less and less necessary with each release through an increasingly intuitive wizard interface, some quick documentation for the current release may be found here.

What does the AppDeploy Repackager do?

The AppDeploy Repackager has two basic functions: creating project files based on a system snapshot and the creation of a project file and Windows Installer setup.

  • It performs a snapshot of the file and registry systems before and after an installation is performed in order to determine the intended changes of the setup being repackaged
  • An exclusion list is included, and may be easily updated, to automatically disregard desired folders and registry items
  • The exclusion list feature offers a description field so you can document such items.
  • It generates a shareable project file
  • It generates an MSI setup (based on the contents of the project file)
  • The tool can create a MSI

What does the AppDeploy Repackager NOT do?

  • It does not include the ability to view or edit an MSI file
  • It handles only file and registry data. Therefore more complex setups requiring the following may fail to perform as expected:
    • Services
    • Device drivers
    • Environment variables

Also note that the file and registry is saved during initial and second snapshots. These saved copies are what is used to determine changes (comparison is not done against the live file system or registry). Processing of DLL’s and ActiveX object that can not be identified via registry or file system changes may result in registration issues.

Why can the AppDeploy Repackager project files be shared?

Unlike most such project files, the AppDeploy Repackager utilizes a specialized format designed to contain no personal information or binaries. Included in the project file are simply pointers to source files and registry values which are collected from the local system at the time an MSI is built. No registry data means no serial numbers or other personally identifiable information will be a concern.

To utilize such a project file, you need simply install, license and configure the software as desired and then build an MSI file using the shared project file (eliminating the need to perform a snapshot as well as the review process required to exclude any problematic/undesired items).

Where do I download and upload AppDeploy Repackager project files?

It is not ready yet, but a portal will be provided to upload, download, rate and comment on shared AppDeploy Repackager project files. 

How do I create an AppDeploy Repackager project file?

When you Create a project file based on system changes a project file is automatically generated as part of the process. By default the project file is created with the name and version of the application being repackaged and is stored in a subdirectory named "packages" based on the root folder from which the AppDeploy Repackager was launched. Project files use the XML file extension (and may be reviewed or even edited your favorite text editor).

How do I make use of an AppDeploy Repackager project file?

To make use of an AppDeploy Repackager project file, you need simply install, license and configure the software as desired. When ready, run the AppDeploy Repackager and choose Build package based from project file to generate an MSI file based on the local system's file and registry data (eliminating the need to perform a snapshot as well as the review process required to exclude any problematic/undesired items).

What community tips and tricks exist for AppDeploy Repackager?

There is this helpful YouTube video from Walking Help Desk and another community member has documented how to use AppDeploy Repackager in German.

Know of another contribution? Please let us know!

Be the first to comment
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