Installation Toolkit Supports Microsoft .NET Framework 3.0
- By John K. Waters
InstallAware Software has just begun shipping a free update for its namesake installation tool that adds support for deploying the just-released Microsoft .NET Framework 3.0. The company claims that its InstallAware 6 is now the only such tool available to provide support for installing the newest version of the framework. Released just 48 hours after Microsoft's release, it's certainly one of the first.
InstallAware bills itself as a provider of "the only viable alternative" to Macrovision's InstallShield. The San Francisco-based company was founded in 2003 by "InstallShield alumni" to focus solely on state-of-the-art software installation tools. It produces software installation and compression technologies for the Windows Installer (MSI) platform on the Microsoft Windows operating system. The company's founders pride themselves on being the first to support the latest releases and updates of Microsoft's technology.
"InstallAware has repeatedly responded to new technologies faster than any other vendor," says the company's president, Simon King. "We were the first to support .NET 2.0 almost a year ago. We are still the only vendor to support the three-week old Internet Explorer 7. And again, we are the first vendor to support the latest .NET 3.0...."
InstallAware setups are based on MSIcode, explains Agustin Berge, InstallAware's director of development, which is a high-level scripting language that describes every action an installation performs in a human-readable form.
"Windows Installer packages... are inherently difficult to create," Berge says. "The developer must first master a complex relational database, which the MSI file is comprised of. Then, to cover up for areas which are not part of the standard Windows Installer specification, the developer will often find the need to do additional DLL programming (called custom actions in Windows Installer terminology), before a complete setup is realized. InstallAware protects the developer from both of these time-consuming and error-prone tasks."
MSIcode is accessible enough to allow even non-programmers to build scripts that perform sophisticated installation tasks. The language eliminates the need for custom actions and DLL programming, because all setup functions are built-in. At compile time, the MSIcode script is automatically converted into an ordinary MSI file by the InstallAware compiler. The developer is never required to be aware of Windows Installer's complex database structures or requirements, which InstallAware handles internally.
"InstallAware can be thought of as the Visual Basic of installers," adds Berge. "Setups are built in a visual drag-drop environment with automatic MSIcode generation."
InstallAware's .NET 3.0 update is available free for both trial and licensed users.
John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached