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Blog Posts tagged with Acresso AdminStudio

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Custom Actions with InstallShield AdminStudio

This video presentation and demonstration provides viewers with a technical overview of Windows Installer custom actions and how they may be employed. A demonstration of how to go about creating an "MSI Wrapper" (an MSI setup that launches a command line installation) is provided using Macrovision's AdminStudio to get the job done. Note: This presentation is also available with the demo utilizing Wise Package Studio.

Running Time: 16:01

 

 

Where to store any source for your place your custom actions is explained here as well as where to place the call to the action in the MSI sequence along with the benefits and limitations of the various choices.

 

A detailed walk thru on authoring a custom action in AdminStudio is presented, explaining everything along the way- where to place it, setting a condition, handling uninstall, etc.

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Determining Transform (MST) Contents

This training video explains transform files and walks you how to determine the contents of a transform file you may receive from a vendor or co-worker using Package Studio, AdminStudio, ORCA and a freeware tool from the Office Resource Kit.

 

Running Time: 10:29

 

 

Just how to go about seeing just what an MST does to a MSI differs between products so video demonstrations are provided for several popular tools: Package Studio, AdminStudio, ORCA and even a freeware utility called MSTView.exe.

 

Even if you do not make use of all of these tools, this video provides a good first hand look at each of the tools to help you become more familiar with what is available.

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AppDeploy: Reviews: InstallShield AdminStudio 6.0

InstallShield AdminStudio Professional 6.0 by Bob Kelly
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The focus of this review will be on those new features introduced in this latest version 6.0. For a closer look at AdminStudio and its features that existed prior to this new release see the AdminStudio 5.5 review. This is a major upgrade to AdminStudio and with that comes an impressive list of new features. Of these new features, I’ll be discussing those I feel are most important:

  • InstallScript MSI Support - AdminStudio 6.0 can now convert an InstallScript MSI setup to a Basic MSI setup with InstallScript support so it can be managed more effectively in an enterprise environment.

  • Process Assistant - provides a high-level interface providing a guided approach to testing and conflict-resolving packages.

  • Predeployment Testing - allows you to determine if an MSI package will succeed or fail when it is installed in production, in order to help reduce the likelihood of deployment failures.

  • SMS Web Console – Blurring the line between package creation and deployment administration even further, AdminStudio now offers its own Web interface version of the SMS Administrator Console.

Finally, I will close with some final thoughts including some information about other new features of AdminStudio in less detail. 


InstallScript MSI Support
 
Just the word “InstallScript” can send Windows Administrators into a frenzy. Vendors employing InstallScript MSI installation projects (a hybrid of the two installation technologies) typically deliver setup.exe wrappers to bootstrap the installation of InstallScript which must be used to call the Windows Installer setup. While command line support for these wrapped installations is robust, those that wish to assign the included MSI setup using Active Directory are prevented from doing so. Creating a transform, detecting conflicts, and patching and upgrading are all much more difficult issues to deal with when working with an InstallScript MSI installation. While there are some work-arounds to the issues, InstallShield now comes to the rescue with a solution of its own.AppDeploy.com
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Process Assistant
 
The new Process Assistant is a great interface for getting the most out of what AdminStudio has to offer. From what I have seen in the field (and I am a bit guilty of this myself) is that people get comfortable with the tools they know and spend much or all of their time in that one tool- a good example being the InstallShield Repackager. Since the release of v5.5, the Repackager is robust enough to create, edit and compile MSI packages, so it is easy to find yourself not looking at the other tools until you run into a situation that forces you away.

The new Process Assistant guides you through the tasks to get from creation to distribution in a very logical and common sense interface. The first window asks you to select a file. When you do, the Process Assistant determines what the next step should be - if you have an MSI, you’ll want to customize it with a transform – if you have a legacy setup, you’ll want to repackage it and generate an MSI of your own. It then takes you through conflict resolution, testing and finally to the distribution phase (another enhanced feature in this release we will touch on later).

Even if you already know the steps to take and the tools to use, the Process Assistant may still be the way to go. The reason is that it collects most of the necessary information from you before launching the required tool, so you have a consistent interface for the entire procedure. Finally, because the Process Assistant knows what setup you are working with, there is no need to specify this in the various tools as you move through the process!
AppDeploy.com
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            logon, logoff, bat, NT, shell, batch, installation software,
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            installer, SMS installer, window installer, windows installer, 
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Predeployment Testing
 
Predeployment testing is now available in AdminStudio, which provides an effective means of testing the deployment of a package prior to releasing it with whatever distribution mechanism you have in place. You provide it a source MSI (the one you want to test) and a target MSI file names (the new test version of the package you want to create). The test version of the package performs the following silent tests against target systems and then reports the results to a web service installed on an IIS web server.

  • System Search – checks to ensure any configured search conditions are met

  • Launch Conditions – checks to ensure any configured launch conditions are met

  • Directory Creation Permissions – ensures necessary permission exists to create directories

  • File Read Permissions – ensures necessary permission exists to read files

  • File Write Permissions – ensures necessary permission exists to write to files

  • Disk Space – ensures necessary disk space is available

  • Registry Permissions – ensures necessary permission exists to modify the registry

  • .NET Framework – ensures the .NET Framework is installed if necessary

  • File Association – ensures any specified file associations can be enforced

  • File Conflicts – ensures no conflicts exist with current files on the target system

  • Registry Conflicts – ensures no conflicts exist with current registry entries on the target systemAppDeploy.com
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Final Thoughts

If you have not had your hands on AdminStudio in a while, I recommend you take a look at my last review of version 5.5 as well. I’ve covered a few key upgrades here, but AdminStudio already had quite a bit to offer.

In addition to these items I thought were key, there are considerable other enhancements as well. To name a few: a new Package Auto Import feature allows you to simply place a package in a specified folder where it will be automatically detected and imported into the Application Catalog. You can now scan for file dependencies in the Application Catalog and can include these dependencies in your conflict analysis. If you are an Oracle shop, AdminStudio now supports Oracle to store its Application Catalog database. Some of the ConflictSolver ACE rules have been enhanced and the output from these checks are consolidated and summarized in its reports.

InstallShield have managed to outdo themselves once again; AdminStudio does not only seem to do everything, but it seems to do everything quite well. New features like its InstallScript MSI installation conversion tool and Process Assistant make this worth a very close look. If you are evaluating a new solution, or rethinking your current tools, do yourself a favor and get your hands on the latest demo.
  

 

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AppDeploy: Reviews: InstallShield AdminStudio 2.0

InstallShield AdminStudio 2.0


Overview: InstallShield AdminStudio 2.0 is an integrated set of tools for the creation, customization and conflict resolution of application deployment packages.
Cost: $2,899 (Upgrade From InstallShield Tuner or InstallShield Professional: $1,799)
Operating System: Windows NT4 SP3, Windows 2000/ME/98/95. IE 4.01SP2 or higher is required on NT/98/95 systems.
System Requirements: Pentium-class PC (300mhz or better recommended), 64mb RAM (128 recommended), SVGA display set to at least 800x600 with "small fonts" selected. For CD Installation 400mb is required before installation, 200mb after installation is complete. For Web download, 600mb is required before installation and 400mb after. If InstallShieldProfessional- Windows Installer Edition is installed, it must be removed prior to the installation of AdminStudio.

A Tool For Administrators

It is great to see tools like AdminStudio finally hitting the streets. In order for administrators to really work with the Windows Installer (customizing and configuring) they often are forced to work with tools designed for use by developers. AdminStudio is an excellent example of a solution geared toward providing administrators just what they need, with the option dig as deep as possible if the need should arise.


Main AdminStudio Screen

The tools that make up AdminStudio 2.0 are integrated in that they work well together and can share data between one another, but AdminStudio is essentially a suite of four stand-alone tools: Repackager, Author, ConflictSolver and Tuner. 

Repackager

The repackaging tool is the primary utility that most administrators responsible for deployment have worked with in one form or another, InstallShield Repackager is the tool provided in AdminStudio. Repackager works like other such tools by comparing a system before and after desired changes have been performed in order to gather the relevant elements for the installation package.



 

Repackager can be configured to scan for changes to the computer only in specified locations or even the entire registry and file system. The recommendation from InstallShield is to perform repackaging operations on a system with only the operating systems and service packs in place. Repackager can then be run over the network to further minimize contamination of the system during the repackaging process. The end result is an MSI package that can be further edited or customized with other tools in AdminStudio, Author and Tuner respectively.

Author

Previously known as InstallShield Professional - Windows Installer Edition, Author allows for the creation of setup interfaces by allowing you to create full setup routines. This may be accomplished by importing a repackaged setup, using the provided wizards or by editing a blank project from scratch. As part of the repackaging process this is the tool used to clean, customize and otherwise manipulate the raw MSI created by Repackager. The design is very straightforward and easy to understand. Descriptive text and links to help on everything is very well integrated and provides you with exactly the level of detail you need while creating your setup.


Definitely worth mentioning are a few key options available in Author...

  • Enforce Setup Best Practices - With a checkbox (not activated by default) Author will have the Setup Best Practices wizard provide guidance and enforce best practices.
  • View List Style - The detail and organization of your setup can be displayed using the default "Admin" style that provides an administrator-focused task list, which closely resembles the structure of InstallShield Tuner. Also available is a "Developer" style, which provides a task-oriented way for creating a setup project and the "Classic" style that closely resembles the structure of previous versions of InstallShield software.
  • Always Recommend Path Variables - This option causes Author to automatically assign existing path variables to your files. For example, if you are adding a file to your setup that is stored in your Program Files folder, the <PROGRAMFILES> variable will be used instead of a hard-coded path.

ConflictSolver

ConflictSolver is AdminStudio's answer to what has become a "must have" utility for package creation and deployment shops; a tool for the detection and resolution of file and registry conflicts between packages. With this detail regarding conflicts between packages, appropriate modifications can then be made to resolve them. ConflictSolver is able to report additional information between Merge Modules and MSI packages if the Merge Modules already exist in the Conflict Database.


When conflicts are detected a resolution wizard is displayed to help you through rectifying it. You may then choose to correct the problem in the MSI itself, or create a transform (MST) file to effect the desired modifications. Conflicts that ConflictSolver can automatically resolve are in boldface. Conflicts that require manual resolution, or ones that have been resolved automatically during a previous execution of the Resolution wizard are listed in plain text . If a conflict was previously resolved, status information appears in the bottom pane of the panel.

The ConflictSolver in AdminStudio 2.0 does not yet have a the capability to import a baseline snapshot. We have been advised that this a planned feature of an upcoming release, version 2.5.

At the bottom of the panel, a URL links to a page on the InstallShield Web site, providing any additional information about the conflict that may not yet be in the help system. Unfortunately none of these were functional at the time of this review.

Tuner

Tuner allows for the creation of MST (Windows Installer Transform) files. Transform files provide a quick and easy way to customize Windows Installer packages, including limiting the features to be installed, supplying registration keys, adding custom files to installations, moving/removing installed shortcuts and setting property values. A Response File Wizard is included to help you easily create a transform based on information gather during a simulated installation.


 

Summary

AdminStudio provides an excellent way to get a handle on the repackaging of legacy installations into Windows Installer packages. InstallShield provided a good team of products in InstallShield Professional - Windows Installer Edition and InstallShield Tuner. You could make packages with all the detail and low-level manipulation you may need. This suite adds a quality repackaging tool and conflict checking to this already great combination. The ability to detect and resolve package conflicts before they hit your client workstations is an immeasurable benefit that may save you countless hours of troubleshooting and user downtime. AdminStudio's ability to create, edit, customize and detect conflicts between packages provides you with the tools you need to attack any deployment package. 

 
Bob Kelly 
AppDeploy.com

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