Packets: Fine-Tuning Installation Choices
InstallShield’s Tuner tool helps you control network “featuritis.”
As the Windows Installer service becomes the preferred method for installing
software on 32-bit Windows, tools for interacting with the service are
becoming more powerful. InstallShield Tuner is one of the latest of these.
Think of a transform file as a set of pre-selected choices for a Windows
Installer package. For example, if you install Office 2000 on your hard
drive, you’re presented with a customization panel that lets you choose
the specific components you’d like installed. A transform file can capture
a set of choices from this panel, allowing the network administrator to
specify a standard installation, thus eliminating the worry that users
will change things.
InstallShield Tuner creates transform files via a simple six-step interface.
You’re walked through each step, and you can click a toolbar button for
more help. The steps are:
Prevalidation — Checks to make sure the original Installer package
is free of problems before you create a transform.
Setup Organization — Allows you to specify a destination and choose
the features to install or leave out. You also can select the features
where users can exercise choices.
Target System Configuration — Allows you to add additional files,
registry keys, shortcuts and folders to an installation.
Additional Servers — Lets the network administrator create multiple
source servers for a single installation.
Application Configuration — Customizes miscellaneous settings —
for example, the application’s control panel interface.
Postvalidation — Checks to make sure the final product doesn’t break
Windows Installer rules.
After working through these steps, you end up with a Windows Installer
transform (.mst) file. The network administrator then can distribute this
transform along with the original Installer package, knowing users will
be installing given software in a specified manner.
|InstallShield's Tuner interface walks you, step-by-step,
through customization of a Windows Installer package. (Click image
to view larger version.)
I put Tuner through its paces on several Installer packages and it performed
flawlessly. One nice touch is that it will work with any Windows Installer
package, not just those created by InstallShield’s other tools, so it
can be used for many of your organization’s setup needs. A busy network
administrator should find that this tool easily pays for itself in reduced
help desk costs.
Mike Gunderloy, MCSE, MCSD, MCDBA, is a former MCP columnist and the author of numerous development books.