Product Reviews

Get Software Installs Under Control

Wise Package Studio provides a setup factory for the sysadmin.

If you're running a big network, one of the last things you want is to have users installing software for themselves. Think about the number of choices that you can make when installing Microsoft Office XP - and then think about the load on the corporate help desk if every user has Office configured in their own idiosyncratic way. Avoiding that situation is the reason that repackaging software was invented. Now Wise Solutions, a pioneer in the field, has upgraded their repackaging solution to handle more tasks than ever before.

Wise Package Studio consists of a number of independent tools (20 in the Professional Edition that I evaluated) that can (and should) be organized into processes. A process, in Wise parlance, is a set of steps that needs to be carried out to accomplish a particular repackaging task. The product comes with some predefined processes, but it's easy to add your own as well (and to set company-wide defaults to make sure all your sysadmins tackle the same tasks in the same way). For example, the Quick Repackage process includes creating, customizing, and testing a new setup.

The basic notion of repackaging is simple. First, you record the baseline configuration of your test computer. Then, you install the new software from the manufacturer's setup program, making the appropriate choices as you go along. The SetupCapture task records every change that the program makes, and builds a setup file (either Windows Installer or Wise's own format) based on those changes. When end users run this new setup on their own computer, they get all of the software with none of the choices.

Wise Package Studio
The Workbench guides the administrator through the process needed to complete a repackaging job one step at a time. (Click image to view larger version.)

Wise Package Studio has quite a few impressive capabilities. These include the ability to transform any setup into a Windows Installer package, the ability to check changes made by a new piece of software to ensure that they don't conflict with other programs you've already installed, and both low-level and script-view editors for MSI files. The Workbench interface, shown in Figure 1, offers pervasive help and checklists to guide even inexperienced users through your company's standard processes.

The Professional Edition is the middle of the three offerings in the Wise Package Studio Line, aimed at a team of administrators working at the department or division level. There's also a Standard Edition for the single administrator on a small network, without the conflict-checking pieces, and an Enterprise Edition that supports fully distributed workflows and adds additional automation. In my tests the Professional Edition worked flawlessly and the interface was intuitive enough that I barely needed to crack the manuals. If you feel like software on your network is out of control, you need to check this product out for a potential solution.

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy, MCSE, MCSD, MCDBA, is a former MCP columnist and the author of numerous development books.

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Reader Comments:

Sat, Mar 8, 2003 nathan Anonymous

You gotta be kidding!

You call that a REVIEW?? I can read more about the software by looking at the box. Come on! Did you use it? was it faster than InstallShield? Is it worth the price? (it cost more than double wise for windows installer so it better make my job twice as easy or don't bother)

Oh and another thing - you shouldn't be repackaging Office or any vendor supplied MSI....you should be applying a transform on the existing MSI.

I don't reckon this guy knows what he's talking about and i'd expect better for this magazine....suppose to be for professionals, not amateurs. gezz.

Thu, Aug 1, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

Not a very detailed review

Thu, May 9, 2002 Bron California

Good article. This product blows away the Installshield studio and that's why we use it.

Wed, Apr 10, 2002 Fonk Netherland

It's a perfect solution for system administrators to manage software in combination with Windows 2000/XP, we are using this product now for 5 months in combination with windows 2000.

Tue, Apr 2, 2002 J-Monster S.Africa

I would like to see more comparisons between products in these reviews. I know Wise quite well and would like to know how it compares with InstallShield...

Fri, Mar 29, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

The article for AdminStudio by InstallShield was much more in-depth.

Thu, Mar 28, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

This is a great article

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