Product Reviews

Software in Nice, Tidy Packages

Wise Solutions offers the other full-blown developer tool in this review, Wise for Windows Installer. I looked at version 1.1. As you can see in Figure 6, this product offers a full-fledged authoring environment for Installer packages, although it does things differently than InstallShield in many cases.

Wise offers the most options for starting a new project. It can create a blank Installer package, merge module, or transform, which is a patch for an Installer package, or import an existing Wise script (using its previous installation technology) or Visual Basic project. Wise can monitor an application in use to see what files it uses or can capture an application being set up via before-and-after system snapshots (similar to the way WinInstall LE works). It can also open Installer databases and merge modules and transforms. Unlike InstallShield, Wise works directly in the Installer files, without an intermediate format.

Figure 6. Wise for Windows Installer’s Installation Expert lets you focus on what you want to do, rather than the mechanics of doing it.

In its Installation Expert mode, Wise presents the developer with a series of choices, and modifies the appropriate Installer tables automatically. This is great for letting you focus on what you want to do, rather than on the mechanics of doing it. There’s also a Setup Editor mode that lets you edit directly in the Installer tables, although I found it less usable than the versions in Orca or InstallShield. Wise provides a wizard for creating custom actions and a full editor for dialogs, which requires setting properties in property sheets. It is occasionally less intuitive than I’d like, but it does do the job.

The automatic updating feature built into Wise for Windows Installer is especially nice. If you have an Internet connection, the program checks for updates when you launch it; if one is available, it gives you the option to download and install it. With a new technology like the Windows Installer service, this is a great help since all of the bugs have probably not been worked out yet.

Wise supports localization and other minor changes through the use of Installer transforms. For example, a transform can include a French user interface and localized files to turn an English package into a French one. This is the first tool available with this functionality.

This $795 package has all the ingredients you need to turn almost any application into a Windows Installer package.

About the Author

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

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