This year we upgraded to new versions of our development tool set. As a result, we needed to modify our Installshield packaging projects. While doing this we decided to make some improvements. Previously we had hard coded paths in the InstalledShield file groups. These paths got stored in FGL files. This would cause some problems when you were developing under a different folder than the hard coded path. The old way to deal was this was to standardize on the folder for linked files, especially when you were packaging the application for distribution via Installshield.
Our change for this year was to be able to run the Installshield for source files that were located in any folder. We gave this task to a Visual Basic developer. He in turn created the FGL Modifier. The FGL files are just ASCII text. The paths for the linked files are contain in the FGL files. So the VB developer replaced the paths in the FGL files with sentinel values. His VB program then scanned these files, and replaced the sentinel values with a path from the Windows registry.
This was a noble design. The problem was that you needed to know how to use the FGL Modifier program. I tried running it but it gave me an error. Then I got help from the VB developer. He told me I needed the special FGL files that had the sentinel values in it. I got these but still encountered problems. So I was given the secret information to pass the program on the command line. Wouldn’t you know it? The darn thing still had an error and bombed. I have not given up yet.
In the end I expect the FGL Modifier program to work correctly. But packaging the same code from different directories should be a common problem. I wonder why Installshield did not provide this functionality built into the software. Maybe we just do not know how to use Installshield correctly. Then again, we use a very old version of Installshield (5.5). I imagine the latest and greatest version is v10 or 11 or 12. Perhaps configurable paths for file links are supported by now. Does anybody out there know? Or do people use MSI now for packaging? Inquiring minds want to know.
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