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