Hello all, I am looking into best ways to send an automatic update out to all of our customers. We are using Installshield to package our software. The idea is to notify the customer that a patch or an upgrade is available and that they need to download it and install it. Same as how we all get microsoft updates. Our customers are world wide and they have many machines to deploy to. Its becoming a cumbersome task to manually update all these machines manually.
How can automatic updates be best done? I have enquired about FlexNet Acresso provides and we already use Installshield but is there something else we can use? We can and are able to host the software onto our own servers, but how do we then notify the end users and update them automatically?

Any help will be much appreciated.
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Are you a software vendor.. are you deploying to customers, or are you deploying to fellow employees?

Are you talking about updating software or deploying Microsoft updates?

What software deployment tool do you use?

Are your users administrators on their machines?
Answered 02/12/2009 by: turbokitty
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Thank you for your reply,

We are deploying to customers.
I am talking about updating software (updating software to the latest release/patches available)
Currently we have no software deployment tool. At the moment we just upload our client software on to an FTP site and ask our customers to download the package when we make it available. We notify availability of our software (upgrades/patches) via email. So we are looking to automate the process.
We have customers who are administrators on their machine.
Answered 02/12/2009 by: ADNoob
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Get yourself onto SourceForge or Planet Source Code. I set up an automatic update facility for a client using VB6 and ASP code from PSC as a base. There was obviously a client side and a server side and I remember thinking at the time that the code was of exceptional quality. I can't recall the exact location on the site, as my project is on my pen drive at home but PSC has a reasonable search facility. Of course, you may use a different language but the underlying principals and technology will be the same for any language.

BTW, having to have your customers as local admins is a Bad Idea. The above project uses a service operating under the local System account which obviously has appropriate rights.

Good luck.
Answered 02/13/2009 by: VBScab
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VBScab, are you suggesting he use an auto-updater? I hope you have to repackage that app in the future... [:D][:D]

Installshield's autoupdater seems to work alright. Have you tried it? You should make sure that the solution you choose can be turned off by your clients. Some environments will not allow apps to auto-update from an external source.

Best practice is to deploy your app with MSI, then provide updates as patches (MSP). Perhaps installshield's tool will allow you to deploy MSP's with it. That would be ideal. Then some clients could turn it off and install the MSP's manually.
Answered 02/13/2009 by: turbokitty
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In addition VBScab's point about local admin rights, and turbokitty's one about the ability to turn off autoupdates, you may want to consider implications of custom corporate internet connections (ftp traffic may be disallowed by default through proxy servers, firewalls etc.) - it irritates the end users when the application, upon opening, freezes for 5+ minutes trying to check for updates every time...
Answered 02/16/2009 by: revizor
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VBScab, are you suggesting he use an auto-updater? I hope you have to repackage that app in the future... [:D][:D]
Yes, indeed I am. With .Net allowing apps to be discrete again (i.e. self-contained and not sprawled all over System32...) I don't see a problem.
Answered 02/16/2009 by: VBScab
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In addition VBScab's point about local admin rights, and turbokitty's one about the ability to turn off autoupdates, you may want to consider implications of custom corporate internet connections (ftp traffic may be disallowed by default through proxy servers, firewalls etc.) - it irritates the end users when the application, upon opening, freezes for 5+ minutes trying to check for updates every time...Good point about FTP/firewalls/whatever but, if the app were passed fit for consumption, exceptions can be made in most environments. Also, an ambitious developer could always leverage Microsoft's work and use BITS for downloading. I've read good things about it.

As for irritating users, that's what vendors are for, surely? No, seriously, I specifically mentioned the PSC app because it runs as a service and updates itself without user interaction. For the control freaks, it logs EVERYTHING it does (IIRC, to a log file, Event Viewer, or both). It's really rather special, a model for what an auto-updater should be like.
Answered 02/16/2009 by: VBScab
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This approach also removes the IT department's ability to do regression testing. What if a vendor's update breaks the application in their environment, or worse, breaks a different application?
Answered 02/16/2009 by: turbokitty
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Turbs, I was talking about properly-written apps, not the kind of stuff you get from major vendors. Apps which live on their own, no System32 fluff. Why/how would that sort of app break another one? Just let it do its stuff.

I freely admit that such apps are thin on the ground (I've probably seen a maximum of 3 since I've been doing this IT nonsense) but, if the OP is building from the ground up, he/she can control that.
Answered 02/17/2009 by: VBScab
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