Other Helpful Tools

Several tools are available for those who want additional resources to help leverage Microsoft Windows Installer. Table A summarizes these tools' features.

The Windows Installer software development kit (SDK) is the first place to look for helpful tools. The SDK includes msitran.exe, a utility for generating transforms; Orca, a Windows Installer (.msi) file editor; and Msival2, an .msi file validation tool. The tools aren't as easy to use and require more Windows Installer know-how than InstallShield Software's InstallShield Tuner, but they do the job.

The Microsoft Office 2000 Resource Kit contains the Office 2000 Custom Installation Wizard, which creates customized transforms from the Office 2000 .msi package. In a pinch, you can use the Custom Installation Wizard to create transforms for other .msi packages. Microsoft doesn't support this use, however, and Custom Installation Wizard lacks tools for validating transforms that you create.

If you want to use snapshot technology to create .msi packages, you can use VERITAS Software's WinINSTALL Limited Edition (LE), which the Windows 2000 Server CD-ROM includes (you can find WinINSTALL LE in the \valueadd\3rdparty\mgmt\winstle folder). This tool lets you repackage third-party application installations and edit .msi packages. However, WinINSTALL LE is a repackaging utility, which means the .msi package it creates might not have all the functionality of an .msi package a developer creates from scratch. For example, this tool might lump together an application's separate features, keeping you from installing the features separately. Also, to overcome cross-platform problems, you might need to make separate packages for each OS.

Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS) 2.0 includes the Installer Step-up Utility (ISU). This utility makes bulk conversions of SMS Installer format setup packages by translating each .exe package's scripts to .msi database format. I don't guarantee a glitch-free experience, but if you have many applications already in SMS Installer format, this utility can save a lot of time.

If you're interested only in minor .msi- package customizations, investigate the many msiexec.exe (Windows Installer service) command-line options. Msiexec.exe options let you, for example, specify alternate source paths, change certain properties, and perform silent installations. For more information about these options, see the Microsoft article "Command-Line Switches for the Microsoft Windows Installer Tool".

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