Review: Wise for Windows Installer
Wise for Windows Installer 6.0 Enterprise Edition
Wise Solutions, Inc.
As software has gotten more complex and interconnected, installation
builders have had to keep up. The latest version of Wise's premier
offering for Windows developers once again advances the state of the
art. I spent some time experimenting with the new features and came away
Of course, you can take as a given that the top of any setup vendor's
line will do all the standard things: build installers for Windows
applications or mobile applications, let you customize the user
interface, choose which files to include, create registry keys, and so
forth. Indeed, if you've got a simple C# project that you just want to
dump on to the user's computer you probably don't need to go this far up
the food chain (though you certainly can use this product for that
purpose; Wise provides import tools for VB, C#, and J# projects that
make it easy to get from your code to the installer).
So, what else do you get at the high end? To begin with, the provisions
for deploying Web applications and other server-side applications are
very well thought out. Click over to the System Requirements tab and
you'll see that you can specify the IIS version, SQL Server version, and
.NET version for the target server (as well as more usual things like
Windows and IE versions). Then take a look at the tab that lets you
specify which files to install on the server. Here you can specify a
virtual directory or Web site as the target, instead of a physical
directory. You also get a set of property pages very similar to those
used by IIS; these configure the target virtual directory. If you need
particular authentication options, custom HTTP headers, a custom default
document, or whatever, just specify them here.
Want to install a SQL Server database? Use the SQL Server Scripts tab.
You can import a script that you've already designed, or tell Wise that
it should build a script to recreate a database from your development
machine. You can also search and replace in the script at install time -
handy when you've prompted the user for authentication information or
the name of a database to use. By the way, there's also a Dynamic
Content Editor that lets you do install-time edits for any XML file
that's a part of your installation; this is ideal for customizing
Web.config files, for example.
Speaking of XML, you can configure Wise to save its own files in XML
format now, which makes putting them under source code control a
sensible thing to do. If you're doing this, you're likely also making
use of the repository features of the Enterprise Edition, which lets you
set up a share point for all of your developers to use; this ensures a
consistent set of files, resources, and so on across various setups
built in your organization.
Other highlights in this release include preliminary support for Windows
Installer 3.0 (which isn't itself released yet, so I'd expect a patch
when it goes live), support for installing multiple instances of a
product on the same computer (similar to the way you can install more
than one copy of SQL Server, and another useful trick for Web
applications), and better device driver support. All in all, this is a
superior tool for the developer who has serious setup work to do.
There's a 30-day evaluation download available at the Wise Web site.