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The process to create MSIs, MSMs, MSPs, MSTs, PCPs is pretty simple and straight forward.
The Microsoft® Windows® Installer (version 4.5 and later) offers the easiest way to package a product because it is driven by tables (installer database). Windows Installer SDK gives you ALL the tools needed to package a product without buying a third party software. You can also use alternative tools like InstEd (InstEd is a Free msi editor built for professionals). Your CM should be able to develop your own internal tools. This will give you more flexibility, autonomy, complete control of the destiny of your packaging and setups, and a lot of savings at the long run.
One of the problems when Configuration Management staff only use purchased software is that hey are simply pushing buttons and answering wizards. This is a dangerous limitation in the long run. The staff becomes blinded from the actual knowledge and sluggish as time goes. This is not a profitable answer to a company that wants to be in control of its future.
Creating your own In-House tools offers many advantages like:
The MSI (MSM) tables can be exported into text files, and/or imported from Tab delimited text files. Thus the setup process of your products is greatly facilitated. You will be satisfied when you see you can package your product in minutes (packaging on a average PC takes about 5 minutes for 3000 files, 22 Custom Actions, 3000 registry entries, 20 shortcuts, selectable components, validation, CAB creation...). For more information see MSI Installer Script Automation Overview.
Your home grown tools will allow you to have more flexibility because your Configuration Management will understand Windows Installer SDK and will not only depend on third party software updates. Your Configuration Management will then be able to do patches using MSP (PCPs), merge modules MSM (a MSI without an interface), and localize the setups on-the-fly using MST or not... as you wish!
The Microsoft® Windows® Installer SDK offers the easiest way to package a product on a PC because Windows Installer is driven by tables. These tables can be exported into (IDTs) text files, or imported from Tab delimited text files (your staff should have no problem creating Tab delimited text files).
You do not
automatically need to purchase an expensive third party packaging software.
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