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VB/VBA Developer's Guide to the Windows Installer [Paperback]

Mike Gunderloy
2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 12 2000 Developer's Handbook
An intermediate to advanced guide to building a trouble-free Windows installation package for a Visual Basic application. Zeros in on critical topics such as customizing installations for specific situations, validating installer databases, creating patches and upgrades, and using the Installer API. Softcover.

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From Amazon

For those old enough to remember pre-Windows times, the whole idea of writing an application to install an application seems bizarrely recursive. Nevertheless, Windows apps such as the 1-GB Microsoft Office suite need installers.

Windows-application installation has been a problem for years, and Microsoft's new installer is supposed to address and overcome existing installation problems. The new installer supports an installation database (in part to fix problems the Registry failed to solve), rollback support, application maintenance, advertisement (which makes features look installed but only actually installs them if the user asks for them), better administrative control over installation, and--best of all--a cure for DLL hell.

Naturally, VB/VBA Developer's Guide to the Windows Installer starts by installing the new installation SDK. Then it gets more complex. The new installer is supposed to cope with Windows 95, 98, NT 4, 2000, and the dozen or so major versions of these--which vary considerably under the surface. These adjustments are all controlled from the installer database, which is incompatible with all other Microsoft databases.

Using the new installer isn't trivial. Indeed, you'll reach page 200 before you'll feel you've learned enough to consider creating an installation routine--and then it's only by modifying an existing one. What comes across most in this book is the Byzantine complexity of Microsoft's new installer. If you're a Windows developer, however, you probably have little choice but to gain at least a basic understanding of the system--and this book does the job. --Steve Patient, Amazon.co.uk

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Customer Reviews

2.0 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Good overview of the Windows Installer May 21 2000
This book would be a great book for someone who is new to the Windows Installer. Although it contains much of the same information as the SDK, it is much easier to read. Things added beyond the SDK include a discussion of Installer editing tools, a list of available merge modules and small notes throughout the book discussing little intricacies that add some value. A discussion of installing MDAC, a pain in NT, is also included. Things that would have been nice to see but were not included are examples of installing MTS packages, more examples of custom actions and their associated rollback and uninstall actions and some more information on creating patches. This is currently the only book on Windows Installer and it gives a nice overview but I don't think it's for the advanced Windows Installer developer. Personally I was looking for a little more detail than it gave but I still find myself using it for reference here and there.
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2.0 out of 5 stars A reference but lacking examples Aug. 8 2000
I bought this book to solve the problem of installing MDCAC and DCOM with the Windows Installer. There are only 5 short paragraphs that tell you "Many, many applications require this set of components to be installed..." The author then tells you in a few short words that "the best bet is to simply include the entire mdac_typ.exe file in your Installer package and use a Type 18 custom action to execute the installation after the file has been copied to the user's hard drive" then he tells you that "you should use a condition to prevent launching the setup on Windows 2000". HOWEVER... HE GIVES YOU NO EXAMPLE WHATSOEVER for this very, very important problem. He just tells you that you should do something about it. I can read the documentation from Microsoft. I wanted a book to tell me how to do what needs to be done. This book didn't come through.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good General Info, But Short on How-To May 28 2000
This book provides good general information about the new Windows Installer, but it's weak on examples and how-to information. Only one chapter (Chapter 7) provides examples of the steps involved in using the Installer, and those examples are limited to modifying an existing .msi file, not creating one.
The author promises a complete walk-through in Chapter 12, but it's not there. Instead, the chapter offers an overview of various installers (InstallShield, Visual Studio, and Wise). But again, there are no examples.
Many developers are trying to figure out how to incorporate various Microsoft technologies, such as MDAC, into Windows Installer files. The book suggests using a custom action, but doesn't provide a step-by-step example of how to do it. This alone would have made the book worth its price.
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2.0 out of 5 stars This is almost an exact copy of online manual! Nov. 15 2001
By Y. YE
I really didn't learn much from reading this book. This book is piled with tables, lists, etc, which one can easily find in the Windows Installer online manual.
A really good book should explain Windows Installer in a top-down fashion and illustrate the points using some examples. I know that MSI is a tedious and detail oriented architecture and it might not be easy to devise simple yet illustrative examples but those are the best help a developer will want. I hope that somebody can take up this task.
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