View Full Version : Does IS X really solve our problems?

05-08-2004, 05:31 AM
[Copy of an excerpt of the Google search thread (http://community.installshield.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=132672), since it doesn't really belong there]

Yes, of course, I've noticed it. However it's not of very much interest for me as long as I'm still struggling with my first setup project with Dev8. ( And, browsing through the forums, it's my strong believe that I'm not the only one in the community who is struggling )

Did you notice my various threads in which I told how cumbersome it is to create a clean, perfectly working setup project if there is more to do than just copying a few files or creating a handful of shortcuts?

At the moment I'm everything else but a happy IS customer. And if I had a choice I would have thrown out IS already two weeks ago ( Is there a money-back guarantee? )

If you tell me that ISX is THE best and biggest solution for everything I must believe you. However, due to my experiences with Dev8 I'm not convinced at all. And, as a Generally-but-preferrably-Windows-experienced I generally do not trust any software before it's version 2.

And? Is there an upgrade path from Dev8 to ISX? Since I'm using Dev8 since 3 weeks only, though we bought it half a year ago ( our company has different schedules and priorities, too ), I'm not willing to pay more than, let's say, $49,99 for an upgrade. And, since it would be more a potential "stability enhancement" or "bug fix" version for me I believe it would be fair to get it for free at all.

Or do you think about a SP3 for Dev8? I can hardly imagine that.

I'm in IT business since 16 yrs. ( over 20, if I take into consideration my home computers era ). I programmed and supported mainframe, mid-range, PC-systems. I developed PHP/mySQL Internet solutions. I was at MS as a system engineer for a while. I earned my crust as a self-employed software trainer/developer for years.

Last year I "raped" VB6's Packaging and Deployment Wizard-project and created a setup for one of our apps INCLUDING MSDE 2000 SETUP, including a flexible number of named instances - depending on a licence code ( Those of you who know what this means, REALLY(!!!) know what this means, don't you? So, I'm not new to challenging setup projects. )

However, this setup works well on about 80% of the PCs we installed it. Now I wanted to address the remaining 20% and thought IS would be the best choice to achieve this. ( wrong evaluation? )

With all these experiences and with the fact having an IQ of 150 ( Sorry for mentioning this so explicitly. It's not humble, as I'm naturally. Nevertheless, it's true. ) it's my strong believe that it's not me to blame if I cannot handle a subject/software within 3 weeks. The software and/or concept is to blame.

I mean, I'm VERY self-critical but there always is a point to say: "Geri, STOP, your troubles are not homemade!". And YES, this is an invitation to everybody to still convince me of the opposite. Despite of my age I'm still willing to learn and develop myself every single day.

05-10-2004, 08:22 AM
I totally agree with you. There is so much area where the product could be improved !

I'm using Developer 8 to create advanced basic MSI projects. What does this means ? 50% of the work done by the installer is implemented in custom action DLLs. Why ? Because we are writing SERVER SOFTWARE. Our policy is that when the setup is finished, the product must run without further configuration : This must done during setup !

This is achieved in 2 steps :

1) Ask the user for the needed informations during the User Interface sequence (dialogs) which is far from easy because the MSI database has not been designed for this.
Microsoft is using an external User Interface in lot of product setups and I understand ! I would like to have the ability to design the user interface myself using standard C++ code.

2) Install (not all the time), Configure and Start :
- Services : You can't ask for an account at runtime 8-((((
- Printer Drivers.
- Active Directory or LDAP compliant directories.
- Third party Web, Database, E-mail Servers.
- .....

This is done with Custom Action DLLs. The problem here is that it is not easy to deal with the conditions on all these custom actions so that everithing is fine when you play with the Modify & Remove setup features !

Now for the user interface of the product :

It lets you modify an extremely important GUID without telling you what are the side effects of doing this in the standard user interface !

You have the ability to create and delete the same object in several places with no garantee of the final results at runtime.

Work on a project during months : the database is filled with records that are no longer used for sure. I would like a database cleaner.


I will not upgrade to ISX.
As soon as a the WiX Toolset is good for me, I'll switch to it.

05-10-2004, 09:54 AM
My 2 cents:

Yes, IS has room for improvement but I have found that IS as a company they have been very responsive to feedback given by myself and others over the years. Not to mention that they have to work around all the MSI limitations...

I am currently writting MSI test tools for a major oil company in the process of migrating thousands of install packages to MSIs.
We do use IS and we have found that the biggest problem is the POS also known as the MSI technology! So, let me see:

- Pathetic documentation
- Pathetic implementation
- Absurdly weak SQL
- Less than adequate automation layer
- Packages that behave totally different from what the MS docs says when placed in Active Directory

I could go on and on... We just spend a couple weeks to develop a test tool that imports teh packages into MSDE so we can use real SQL to query them for standards compliance. We wouldn't need that if MS developed a product that does a bit more than SELECT * FROM Table.

If wasn't for Active DIrectory, we would be using the IS Pro engine which has been serving me and my customers very well for all theses years.

If Microsoft could just write an engine that is so well thought out and implemented like the .Net framework is...

05-10-2004, 12:39 PM
BTW - we've got dedicated product management resources for both 'sides' of the InstallShield X brain - Windows and Universal. We read these forums Every Day, and take note of What Works and What Does Not. So I guess I'm saying keep the feedback coming.

Bob Corrigan
Product Manager
InstallShield X Universal

05-10-2004, 07:25 PM
Luiz, you can see in this thread (http://community.installshield.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=132582) that I realized very soon that MSI is a "complex beast" ( cite from this thread (http://community.installshield.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=131956) ) of its own.

But, isn't the Shield in IS a sign that they will/should shield us from this ugly beast?

( Thank God! For the feature called Direct Editor. Though it's a "nice to have" only, since Orca does the same. )

I'm the last to blame IS or MS or any other SW company like many of the self-appointed so-called gurus do. Though I love philosophical approaches to various things in life, too.

But facts are just (hard) facts. Hard for either side: users and vendors. Hard for the users to work with immature SW. Hard for the vendor to endure criticism.

I ever try to criticize constructively, based on facts and keep polemics out. But, if a SW with version 8 presents behaviour which I personally categorize as "childhood diseases" ( e.g. crashing the IDE completely by hitting the wrong key, mysteriuosly empty drop-down lists, ... ) how can they claim to be the "worldwide leader".

OK, I know about perfect worldwide marketing. I was with MS, Duracell, Coca-Cola in the past. So, obviously it's me to blame for being too optimistic once again and believing those marketing dudes' outpourings. And having not performed a tough evaluation phase due to tight schedules.

05-10-2004, 07:46 PM
And to completely understand my disappointment read here (http://community.installshield.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=133358) what happened to me after starting this thread the first time.

Fortunately this has been clarified by AdminJeffH, THX again. However, it happened, it's not (yet) forgotten and it contributed to form a (my personal) picture.

05-11-2004, 09:02 AM
Originally posted by GeriBro
And to completely understand my disappointment read here (http://community.installshield.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=133358) what happened to me after starting this thread the first time.

Fortunately this has been clarified by AdminJeffH, THX again. However, it happened, it's not (yet) forgotten and it contributed to form a (my personal) picture.

You mentioned something in your earlier post (the one before this one) about it being difficult for SW companies to take criticism.

IMHO, the one thing SW companies should crave above everything else is criticism. Criticism reveals defects, sure, but more importantly it reveals missed opportunities and unknown needs.

I've been playing this game long enough (although I never worked at Coke, alas) to be able to take a few hard shots about my products without taking it personally. I guess that's what distinguished leaders in the end - the ability to accept criticism and act on it, even if it isn't the first time the criticism has been heard. But that's just my opinion, and I could be wrong.


08-18-2004, 06:37 PM
The common thing between all of you is that you're all using Developer edition. For god's sake why didn't you pick Professional Edition?

I was worried about getting IS X because IS had just essentially gotten rid of some of the worse bugs I've ever seen from Pro 7.x - including a whopper which cleaned up temporary files (from a self-extracting exe) when the Setup hadn't finished!

However, the other Progs are horrible! Not enough flexibility or customization, and not at all good for any hardcode installation requirements.

X though, from my limited use (thus far) has been very stable for an IS maiden release. It actually looks like they've got it out the door without any major hiccups. Of course time will tell.

I've been writing installer scripts for ages, and in the last two years alone I have had those scripts tested beyond belief. From my early "toying" with ISX I give it the big "worth a look".

Theres always time to find bigs, but this time, even the IDE only crashed the once. Must be a good sign.. !