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App-V support in InstallShield 2010: How does it work? RRS feed

  • Question

  • I recently found out that the new version of InstallShield, v. 2010, now has support for creating App-V packages. I don't have any experience with InstallShield but have been sequencing and deploying our in house application for a few months now. I would like to get our buildmaster to use the app-v option in the InstallShield as soon as we start using the new version, but decided it was best to first get some more information about how this works. Unfortunatley not much info to be found at the moment. 

    This according to Acresso:

    "Now when you build a traditional MSI project, InstallShield 2010 can simultaneously build it as a virtual App-V package. It can also automatically modify your legacy MSIs to App-V packages. InstallShield 2010 handles all the conversion work, so there’s no learning curve for developers new to application virtualization."

    My "problem" here is to find out how this works. Our application uses SQL Server as database and requires a first time startup where a number of parameters are requried as input, and this need to be "caught" by the sequencer during a normal sequencing.  So I am thinking if it is possible to create an App-V package for our application using InstallShield....

    Any pointers in the right direction greatly appreciated.


    Tuesday, August 25, 2009 1:39 PM

Answers

  • I'll add a few words as well. While this can be an initial cost saver in terms of sequencing effort you have to be aware of what you sacrifice with such a solution. Any special post configuration of the application will be missed because the conversion tool only has the MSI as a reference as to what the sequence will look like.

    Other issues I would look for is the launching of the application after installation to properly define the virtual file system and virtual registry. If the MSI sets up an ActiveSetup routine to perform the user profile population your conversion will likely capture the ActiveSetup but not run it since it is the Windows logon process that executes ActiveSetup routines. Or say your application has a launch script that needs to happen for a terminal server world to populate the user's home drive with data. Depending on how your MSI is set up it may miss this piece.

    I've been wanting to kick the tires on the InstallShield solution but these are things I would be checking for in a conversion tool to rate the output quality. There is a place for such solutions but forget the marketing speak for a moment and use your application packaging skill to predict some of the oddball stuff that occurs when packaging in a corporate environment. What you would probably see with a solution such as this is to get about 50-70% of your sequences through acceptance testing but good ol fashioned sequencing will still have to occur.


    www.bighatgroup.com
    Monday, September 14, 2009 10:19 PM
    Answerer

All replies

  • Hi,

    I don't know specifically what sort of features they have in that product (I only beta-tested the AdminStudio Virtual-something less an year ago which is probable what the InstallShield product is based on), but I belive it does mechanical building of package out of what you provide as instructions, much like your would for MSIs. So not actually using monitoring like Sequencer.

    But if you allow sidestepping here, I also have created product capable of building App-V packages (http://www.gridmetric.com/products/sftencoder.html), but it's command-line based and very much geared toward original package building based on the template (like WiX for MSIs). There's trial version available so please take a look if it solves your need.

    btw, you mention SQL Server; do you embed an instance of it to the package? Has it been working with Sequencer -based package creation?

    /Kalle
    Thursday, September 10, 2009 4:02 PM
    Moderator
  • While I have not used the (the InstallShiled stuff) tool, I believe that you basically need to be able to have a "silent" install MSi for it to convert.
    Saturday, September 12, 2009 1:27 PM
    Moderator
  • I'll add a few words as well. While this can be an initial cost saver in terms of sequencing effort you have to be aware of what you sacrifice with such a solution. Any special post configuration of the application will be missed because the conversion tool only has the MSI as a reference as to what the sequence will look like.

    Other issues I would look for is the launching of the application after installation to properly define the virtual file system and virtual registry. If the MSI sets up an ActiveSetup routine to perform the user profile population your conversion will likely capture the ActiveSetup but not run it since it is the Windows logon process that executes ActiveSetup routines. Or say your application has a launch script that needs to happen for a terminal server world to populate the user's home drive with data. Depending on how your MSI is set up it may miss this piece.

    I've been wanting to kick the tires on the InstallShield solution but these are things I would be checking for in a conversion tool to rate the output quality. There is a place for such solutions but forget the marketing speak for a moment and use your application packaging skill to predict some of the oddball stuff that occurs when packaging in a corporate environment. What you would probably see with a solution such as this is to get about 50-70% of your sequences through acceptance testing but good ol fashioned sequencing will still have to occur.


    www.bighatgroup.com
    Monday, September 14, 2009 10:19 PM
    Answerer
  • Very good points from Kevin; MSI to App-V conversion tools are always, by the very nature of traditional install process, limited in the coverage.

    And usage of any conversion tool also does not remove the need to do human-based functional testing of the package which means that at worst, you only remove small amount of work (i.e. sequencing) from the total process involved in bringing functioning package to your environment.

    br,
    Kalle
    Tuesday, September 15, 2009 5:51 AM
    Moderator
  • Thanks for all the replies. I think have a better understanding now, but will have to try this at some point to evaluate properly I guess...

    Kalle: Our application does use Sql Server Express, but as far as  know it is not possible to sequence Sql Server. I haven't actually tried sequencing sql server, but for now I have sequenced the application client and installed the server on a seperate machine for the package to access.. This does make the application very slow.





    Monday, October 5, 2009 9:17 AM