I have been tasked by my management to provide cost estimates for tools required by our future packaging team. For example, it was suggested that a portal be created that quickly displays the status of a pending application, the details specifc to the application, like vendor name, contacts, interdependencies, etc.

In addition, what tools are mandatory for an application packager to do their job. Bob Kelly has done an incredible job posting almost every know tool to mankind on this website, unfortunately I have no idea what tools are critical to complete the job in the most expeditious way.

If you had the opportunity to say what tools would be essential, and those nice to have, and had an unlimited budget, which ones would you recommend.

Regards,

CanNear
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Check the post in this forum about applications to create MSI packages.

You'll basically need an application to package the software, and a system to deploy it.

Ideally, I'd use both Wise Package Studios for most packaging, Installshield for those pesky ISscript installs, and lastly SMS to deploy the packages to the environment. Some other handy tools to use are Orca(free) and SMS installer(included with SMS). This is probably the most expensive way to do it as well.
Answered 03/17/2005 by: Bladerun
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You should keep in mind that when it comes to MSI packaging tools, you get what you pay for. There are much cheaper tools out there to create A package, but on an enterprise level you want a tool to create ALL packages. There is a big difference. Since you also mentioned a status portal and a packaging team, you are looking at an enterprise level solution, which isn't cheap. I'd second the suggestion of a Wise Package Studio Enterprise license for each member of your team and one InstallShield licence (maybe two) for the annoying ISSCRIPT InstallShield packages. You should also consider the skill level of your packaging team. If they're good, the enterprise solution and ORCA is all they'll need. If the skillset is low, you may want a few copies of the Package Cleaner utility to help them produce cleaner packages.

For distribution, while SMS has it's issues it is still one of the best ways to go.
Answered 03/17/2005 by: VikingLoki
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If you are looking for an application workflow application there is no product. I swear someone could make some money making one. Most companies either build an internal application or use something like Remedy ticketing and tasks to track the workflow. Either way you are pretty much building an application to manage that. A portal might do the trick but pre-analysis is crucial. I was on one large project where they went through three workflow applications and they still were not completely satisfied with the functionality and reporting. So beware that this part of the project needs significant attention and not a summer student.

As for packaging I would recommend Wise for everyone and then purchase a copy or two of DevStudio for the ones Wise has issues with (mainly transforms and MSIs with setup.exe). Then you can have Orca and WinInstall LE for the free tools. Orca is good for making quick edits and WinInstall LE is great for getting that quick capture that you would use while troubleshooting. Wise 9 also makes an excellent legacy installer but I really can't say if there is much value in purchasing it these days. Back when MSI packaging tools where less reliable Wise 9 was a nice backup tool to get the job done.

As far as scripting goes allot of shops use WinBatch but I am personally a VBScript fan. Right now I have been playing with the eval of the AdminScript Editor (http://www.adminscripteditor.com/main.asp) and loving it. Also I should note that Microsoft pushes for VBScript custom actions in MSIs but making VBScript work in a MSI is a bit of a voodoo art since there is syntax that will blow up in an MSI but not via WScript. You would think that maybe MS would try to make the language support a little more universal?
Answered 03/17/2005 by: kkaminsk
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I have run some large SMS implementations and I kept thinking there has to be something better than this. Then I started working with a few ZENWorks sites and now I am left loving SMS again for the functionality. ZENWorks isn't bad but it is not this panacea of stability that I was told about it. It breaks and does stupid things just like SMS but I personally think that Microsoft believe it or not is better at issuing hotfixes than Novell. Now hopefully I don’t set someone off but this has been my view from both sides of the fence.
Answered 03/17/2005 by: kkaminsk
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Hi,

Well I've got expereince in Altiris, Zenworks, and SMS, and I have to say I still love Zenworks. But I also loved AmigaOS, so maybe I just go for the underdog :)

In terms of packaging tools, I'd go opposite to almost everyone else here and recommend Installshield Adminstudio as your main packaging tool. But either/or as far as I'm concerned, its more a personal preference than anything, and we've had the "which is better" discussion before on this forum :) I'm currently using both for different clients and both have their annoyances.

If you are going to be doing a lot of VBScript custom actions I can highly recommend PrimalScript.

Oh and VMWARE (or Virtual PC).

Don't forget all the (free) Sysinternals tools.

Hope this helps

Rgds

Paul
Answered 03/17/2005 by: plangton
Second Degree Blue Belt

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:-) AmigaOS! I used to have an A500 running Workbench 1.3. Nice to see someone else who remembers such an awesome platform.

In my experience, (which with installshield hasn't been much hands-on honestly) The biggest thing Installshield has in its favor is the fact thats its an older product than Wise. It seems because of this, Developers and software programmers seem to use installshield more for their initial package, but system administrators will use Wise to repackage the product because its a bit more robust and customizable. Things like WiseScript, and the rollback functionality, which unless something has changed has always been exclusive to Wise when an install fails for any reason, are clear reasons for me to stick with Wise. I've seen remote installs happen with Installshield packages where network connectivity is lost mid-stream, and you're left with a mess to clean up. Wise cleans up after itself.

As far as accompanying tools, I like to use windiff for different type of packages. its a windows resource kit tool. regmon and filemon are great. I can't remember the name of it, I'll try to post it here again when I do, but I have a greate logo compliance tool that produces very detailed HTML reports of your application install, DLL versions, registry entries, and if they are in compliance with Microsoft logo compliance standards. If you are using Wise 5.5 enterprise, some of the QA tools there are pretty nice.

also, keep in mind, if you're like me and much more familiar with windows command shell scripting and not as great at VBScript, you can do custom actions that call cmd.exe with a /c and build a .cmd or .bat file to do any cleanup or special task you want to do, or call programs regedit with different switches it to do exports and imports of the windows registry, update logfiles, or anything else.
Answered 03/17/2005 by: Toupeiro
Senior Yellow Belt

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In defence of Installshield, there is a huge misunderstanding in the packaging community of the different between vendor created Installshield packages, and packages you and I would create using Installshield Package Studio. I'm not going to defend those stupid lazy dirty rotten developers who do crazy crazy things with Installshield Devstudio or whatever its called - I think you need look no further that Adobe's vendor packages to see how bad they can be. But I've seen some vendor packages using Wise being equally poorly designed.

I think a poorly designed package is a poorly designed package, whether its from Installshield or Wise. Similarly, a well designed package is a well designed package, whether its from Installshield or Wise.
Answered 03/17/2005 by: plangton
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Thank you for the excellent recommendations. I'm not a particular fan of either Installshield or Wise. When you are asked to find local resources, and that resource pool has been using a particular packaging tool, you tend to go with the market trend. I think the bottom line comes down to what tools are required to get the project completed.

Speaking of tools, what other packaging utilities should be considered as a must on every application packaging project? A number of members have suggested excellent tools, outside of the two prominent companies we already know today. Many of these I have heard of, and added them as costs to the project. Are there others, including the free ones that we sometimes don't account for because they are free?

Regards,

CanNear
Answered 03/17/2005 by: cannear
Senior Yellow Belt

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Hi Cannear,

I use Iexpress.exe once in a while (its part of the IEAK) to create self extracting .exes that run things.

Regmon, Filemon and Process Explorer from Sysinternals (www.sysinternals.com) are excellent.

Setacl (http://setacl.sourceforge.net/) is useful for setting permissions (I prefer it to xcacls or secedit but those work fine too, secedit is useful for all sorts of things).

Orca of course.

If you are looking for a free VMWare alternative and don't care about things like speed, stability etc then Bochs (http://bochs.sourceforge.net/) - I see they are about to release a new version too. Its not that user friendly or anything but I've used it a fair bit and it does work. Slooowly. I've also heard QEmu is OK but I don't know whether you can access this externally through virtual NICS or anything. Hey maybe a Linux box runing Xen (http://www.xensource.com/) would be OK, anyone played with that?

Decompiling SOME Installshield script files (.INS files): http://www.programmerstools.org/files/decompilers/wisdec.zip Can be handy from time to time. Also http://www.programmerstools.org/files/decompilers/sid.zip for .INX files from Installshield 6 or 7 etc.

Want to get into those Installshield .cab files? http://www.programmerstools.org/files/decompilers/i5comp.zip or http://www.programmerstools.org/files/decompilers/i6comp.zip

For Wise decompilers we have http://www.programmerstools.org/files/decompilers/exwise05.zip and http://www.angelfire.com/ego/jmeister/hwun/index.html, http://www.programmerstools.org/files/decompilers/e_wise.zip

Hmmm thats all I can think of for now. Hope thats helped, theres some unusual stuff in there :)

Rgds

Paul
Answered 03/17/2005 by: plangton
Second Degree Blue Belt

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This is very useful information....I hope the other members would agree also!

Regards,

CanNear
Answered 03/17/2005 by: cannear
Senior Yellow Belt

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There is some great info on this thread.

The only thing I would add is the importance of VBScript. I never knew much about scripting before I started packaging but now I use it on just about every package. If you have someone in your team who is good at scripting then your onto a winner. The VBscripting part of my packages seems to do the bits which impresses all the bosses when your giving them a demo.
Answered 03/18/2005 by: stup9togo
Senior Yellow Belt

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Hi,

I'm looking for a Package Cleaner utility to clean unwanted reg keys and files that don't get picked up by InstallShield. Any suggestions?


Thanks in advance,
Dave. G
Answered 10/20/2006 by: dgornopolsky
Yellow Belt

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If you buy a copy of the AppDeploy Library you get a free license for Bob's Package Cleaner utility. I've tried it out and it works pretty well.
http://www.appdeploy.com/library/index.asp
Answered 10/20/2006 by: turbokitty
Sixth Degree Black Belt

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Moreover, if you know what you want to exclude, you can add exclusions to the Installshield Repackager with the "Global Exclusions Editor". Check the help.
Answered 10/20/2006 by: turbokitty
Sixth Degree Black Belt

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