by Bob Kelly
InstallAware Customization Options
As a result of how InstallAware operates, transforms are not supported. It instead provides other ways to custom install packages in InstallAware. Naturally when we are talking about transforms, we are talking about customizing vendor MSI (after all, if it were a package you created you could manipulate it directly or by customizing variables from the command line). However, if you want to implement the powerful features of InstallAware in all your packages you can: While there are certainly many possibilities, the best is to have your InstallAware package "shell" to a vendor provided setup. This allows your MSI to run the vendor-provided MSI and allows it to run natively as part of a larger setup. This method even natively captures and displays the progress, questions, and errors of the "shelled to" setup. It even suppress the external user interface, to provide a single, "master" install wizard (though you will probably be pushing yours silently). This Un/Install MSI Setup command provides you with full access to the installation command line of the MSI that you are shelling to so you can pass any command-line customization you wish. Of course, the Un/Install MSI Setup command can also maintain/repair an existing installation, as well as remove it. Anything you could pass on the MSI command line, you can pass here.
For customization of an existing MSI you created with InstallAware, you'll be happy to know that every variable is exposed as a public property so it can be overridden from the command line using the form VARIABLE=VALUE.
Finally, if you have repackaged MSI setups (that you created, not one from a vendor) you can very quickly very quickly import them using the Database Import Wizard to create a InstallAware project.
The system is scanned and shows you a count of registry values or files found, the total elapsed time and even a constantly updated rate of speed with which it is progressing in the form of how many files/registry entries per second (see image at right). Even on my relatively slow virtual machine the scan was perhaps the fastest I have seen. It completed quickly, and while the competing tools don’t provide this kind of information for comparison the numbers I saw were registry entries at up to about 6000 registry values per second and files as fast as 5000 per second.
All in all, InstallAware should have the competition watching closely. Just one or two of these features may be reason enough for many to make a switch, but more so is the simple focus of the tool. While InstallAware studio does not provide tools for scanning patches, detecting and resolving conflicts between packages, and package management; these can often become features that often go unused. Some competing tools have become so cumbersome and bloated that they are requiring some pretty hefty requirements (such as SQL and IIS). So, for those looking to develop powerful MSI packages without the need to spend months getting to know the Windows Installer SDK, InstallAware is possibly the best choice I have seen.
There are four editions available, from $199 to $1499 with a 33% discounts if you currently use InstallShield/ZeroG (Macrovision) or Wise (Altiris) products. A 30 day evaluation and pricing can be found here: http://www.installaware.com/buy-store.htm