Our project has been having numerous problems with our install packages. I downloaded what I consider to be a commercial software application this weekend. It seemed to have a moderately complex install process that went through without a hitch. Perhaps our project can learn something from this team’s choices.
Let’s start with a review of our project’s install process. We control our release builds with scripts written in Ant. The Ant calls Visual Studio to perform the compilation. Then the results are packaged up with Installshield Professional. The results are zipped up using Ant. And finally they are turned into an executable with Winzip Self Extractor.
The commercial software I tried out this weekend did a number of things at the time of install. It seemed to install and configure a Sybase database on my machine. It also installed an application server, as well as at least one Microsoft Windows service. That is a tall order. However it did so seamlessly.
I was able to see that this commercial software used IzPack. Now I have heard about other installer software. But I have never heard of this one. Apparently it is an open source package. It seems to support features we need such as an uninstaller and an unattended installer. This looks promising. You can’t beat the price of open source.
Perhaps I will give this package a try. Right now it is not my job to fix the install problems with our project. However in the end, the problems affect the whole team. And the boss comes to me frequently when other developers on the team can’t cut it. It is best to be prepared.
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