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Windows Installer easy question


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#1
afallach

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Is Windows Installer an executable program that can be used for CREATING installation packages, or just a utility for installing them?

If I can create .msi files with it, where do I find it (Name? Path?)

Thanks. David
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#2
dsenette

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it's just a tool for installing stuff

you can make .MSI files...but not with windows installer...if you search for "create an MSI file" you'll get abunch of hits on programs..

i have used a program called winstalle which is relatively easy to use (making an msi is not an easy thing)....it's best used on pristine computers (before installing ANYTHING)...because it has a "discovery" tool that you can start up that makes an image of the registry and file system....then you install the program for which you want to make an msi of...then you run the discovery again...at which point it makes a new image of the registry and file system...then compares the two...extrapolates the changes made by the install...and builds the installer from that...very easy when used on a perfectly clean machine with nothing running or installed on it...VERY messy on any system with live spyware/registry/antivirus monitoring...or alot of software installed
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#3
afallach

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Thanks for the info--fast!

My needs are pretty simple. I receive an installation from a software developer. I'm creating a modification (for USA), and need to replace a couple of files in his package after I revise them. Up to now, I've provided the revised files as a separate installation for users to put on top of his (which does some system tweaks I'm not sure how to duplicate) in order to replace those files, but I'd like to get mine into a HIS package so the user only has one operation to do.

Any hints as how best to proceed? Other software that might accomplish this easily?
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#4
dsenette

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hmm....in this scenario...the EASIEST method would be to have the actual developer add your modifications in from the get go....if this is a developer that y ou are paying (or your company is paying) to make custom software..then they should be able to ablige the additions of your transformations ...i think packageing the whole thing as an msi may work if done in the method descibed above (the discovery thing within wininstalle)....because it would be using the reg modifiers...but if you just stacked his exe and your exe into one msi...i don't think it would neccessarily work..but it might..
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#5
afallach

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actually, I'm a US distributor for his software. He's a hotshot Access programmer, I've learned my way around only enough to do the US revisions and sell and support them, but occasionally I find I've introduced typos or need to make minor revisions apart from his schedule of releases (which is already fairly frequent) and need to post a new download on my Web site. So I don't think it's practical for him to do this for me--I really need the control.

As I understand it (correct me if I don't), what I want to do is not put two .msi's into one executable, but replace an executable (actually, an Access .mdb) that is in his .msi with one of my own, then return that (along with SETUP.EXE and his setup.ini) to the executable that is the Windows Installer file.

I downloaded one package--Advanced Installer--but it was unable to dissect his .msi--something wouldn't parse.

Thanks much for you time.
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#6
dsenette

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so basically...the only thing you're changing in his installer is the .mdb?..i guess for us to be on the same page....exactly WHAT do you change in his setup? and how EXACTLY are you changing it now..
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#7
afallach

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His package contains several files, the most important of which are some dll's and an Access application called scl.mdb. I take this application and a couple of the other files (a Word mail-merge document, for instance) and Americanize spellings and stationery sizes for reports, then repackage the altered files into a self-extracting archive (using WinRAR).

I don't have the savvy or confidence to install the dll's and do any registry tweaking that his installation might do, but I don't like that my clients have to install his package and then my own. The software is already complex, and this is added confusion for them.

Hope this helps.
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#8
dsenette

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ok...so basically he sends you a package that isn't so english...you take the mdb app and modify the language/gramer/and spelling...then also add a mail-merge type of file or something else easy like that...

the people who you distribute the software to install his package...THEN install yours...which basically overwrites the mdb file and changes one or two other things....

are these changes always the exact same? or is he writing a new package for you on a regular basis?
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#9
afallach

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He revises some objects in his mdb every few months as he continues development. I then revise HIS revisions, creating a new mdb, which I
a) send out as a free update to American users,
b) post to the Web for new prospects to download.

Usually it's only the mdb which changes, and existing users have only one new file to deal with--my update--since they already have the dll's and registry changes. But the new prospects have the double process to go through before they can see the software as they would buy it.
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#10
dsenette

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ok...so anyone who already has the stuff...just needs to update the mdb...anyone buying it new needs to do the whole 2 step process (install original..then install your transformations)...hmmm...you would have to repackage the whole msi every time he does an update..which honestly shouldnt be a problem (if the only thing that changes is the DB...)....do some tests with the winstal le ( http://www.ondemands.../PurchaseLE.asp ) the LE version is free..the other versions cost money...but are more powerfull..... i would (from memory of using the program) think that all you would have to do is (on a clean machine) run his install during the discovery phase then replace the mdb file in the package before setting it up to download...
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#11
afallach

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Thanks again. I'll check out the link.

As for the clean machine--I wish! I have a ton of stuff on my computer, but I can turn off the spyware and VP. Thanks for the explanation of this "discovery" process. It was news to me.

David--Versailles, KY
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