Integration Hurdles for EXE Custom Actions

A while back, two sets of engineers were arguing whether simply calling an EXE custom action would be good enough for Windows Installer based package.  The first team with the EXE didn’t want to do the work to move to Windows Installer but they really wanted the second team to take a dependency.  The team…


Arbitrary labels used as Primary keys must not be changed between versions

Summary Msi Editing tools that write auto generated references inside installer tables may cause unnecessary content to be included inside a patch.  ‘Patching’ components with unchanged content may cause them to be uninstalled when the patch is removed thereby breaking the original application.   Scenario  “I create a small patch for my product.   When I selectively…


New article on UAC and Windows Installer available.

Stefan Krueger (one of our MVP’s) has written an article for Macrovision (InstallShield) entitled “7 Reasons Why your Installations May Fail on Windows Vista (And How You Can Fix Them)” outlining the top reasons why he sees failures of Windows Installer (MSI) packages on Vista. It’s a good read.   (You can see Stefan’s own…


Tao of the Windows Installer, Part 6

Well, here we are with the last part in this series, where we’ll be looking at security in relation to the Installer. As I’m sure you’re aware, Microsoft take security very seriously, so don’t let the fact that this is the last section make you think it’s just tagged on at the end to meet…


Tao of the Windows Installer, Part 5

Testing is a vital part of the package development process and you can avoid many problems in production if your testing strategy is sound. So this time we will look at a couple of pointers on testing. I must admit I’m less happy with the arrangement of this section than with some of the others….


Tao of the Windows Installer, Part 4

So, we’ve covered the basics of the Installer, created a package and deployed it.  So far, so good, but what happens if the application needs updated?  Well, here are some things to think about with regard to patching. Enjoy. Series links: Fundamentals Packaging Deployment Patching Testing and Support Security Considerations Patching Rule 40: Use Installer Version…


Tao of the Windows Installer, Part 3

We have reached the mid-way point in this series and will be taking a look at deployment-related recommendations.  Shorter than last time, this section is potentially more interesting to system administrators than package developers – in either case, if you have come across some ‘gotchas’ or know any nice workarounds for deployment problems, please post…


Tao of the Windows Installer, Part 2

Sticking strictly to the “approximately weekly” schedule, here we have, nearly two weeks later, the somewhat more substantial second part in this series. Thanks for the comments on Part 1 – even though I briefly answered some at the time, I’ll be using these when I come to re-draft the list. So, please keep the…


Tao of the Windows Installer, Part 1

Ever agreed to something you thought was a quick favour, just to see it balloon into a massive project? Well, towards the end of last year a customer asked me for a list of “best practices” for the Installer. Being helpful, I agreed to send one and started looking for a list. Now, as the…


Best Practice Guidelines for Building Quality Installs: Part 0, the Introduction

With the start of the Profesional Developers Conference 2005, the Windows Installer Team is starting a series of Best Practice Guidelines for Building Quality Installs. Windows Installer (MSI) is a rich engine with many features to solve installation problems including an extensibility feature called custom actions. Given all the freedom provided when composing packages, package…