Review: Wise Package Studio

Review: Wise Package Studio 5.5 What happens to your software after you're done building it? In a large organization, Wise Package Studio may be helping keep it under control. repackaging, deployment, setup

Wise Package Studio 5.5 Professional Edition
Wise Solutions, Inc.
Plymouth, Michigan
(734) 456-2100

Ever wonder what happens to your application after you sell 1500 licenses to MegaCorporation Inc.? Here's a hint: they don't take 1500 copies of the CD and run around to 1500 workstations. Instead, they use a carefully designed set of procedures to make sure that your application won't break anything else, and then roll it out over the network. Wise Package Studio is an essential part of this picture in many corporations, and it's worth knowing something about how it works, if only to improve your understanding of the software lifecycle.

One of the keys to keeping large numbers of computers under control is to lock down their configuration so that new software doesn't go doing mysterious things to them. This is an area where Wise Package Studio shines. Whatever technology an installer was written with, you can use WPS to capture its actions and convert it to a standard Windows Installer Package. You also get all the tools that you need to customize the package as well.

Repackaging was a big deal a few years ago, but these days conflict resolution is more important in most corporations. Conflict resolution lets you compare the changes that a new package will make - registry keys, files installed, and so on - with what's already on the corporate standard PC, notifying you of any problems. Then you can decide whether and how to modify the package to avoid those conflicts.

Another important piece of the puzzle of testing. As an administrator, you want to make sure that the new application won't cause problems. WPS includes checklists and software to automate tests that you need to perform - for example, that the application can be uninstalled cleanly. It also includes a new capability called "preflight deployment" which lets you test a simulated copy of the application on real computers, reporting back any problems that would have occurred if you'd tried to install the real application. This looks to be a huge advance in the field and a real timesave.

Finally, when you're ready to actually deploy the package, WPS integrates with all of the major deployment solutions such as Microsoft SMS or the Altiris Software Delivery Solution (integration is probably best with the latter, since Altiris owns Wise these days). Depending on the size of your organization, WPS comes in a variety of editions, from standalone versions that just do repackaging to networked enterprise versions that share a repository between multiple administrators guiding software distribution for a huge organization.

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy has been developing software for a quarter-century now, and writing about it for nearly as long. He walked away from a .NET development career in 2006 and has been a happy Rails user ever since. Mike blogs at A Fresh Cup.