AppDeploy Community Launches Free Windows Installer Tool

AppDeploy, an online community for both systemsmanagement professionals and application and computer administrators has released a free software tool called “AppDeployRepackager.” The tool is the industry’s first free applicationdedicated to the complex task of Windows Installer repackaging, according to the company.

Software developers use a repackager to generate a custom, silentinstaller based on changes that are made to a system when installingand configuring software. While the Microsoft Windows Installer setupsare highly customizable, many software vendors still provide their ownapplications rather than use the Microsoft .MSI format.

In order to effectively deploy software in a custom, silent manner, ITmanagers often must repackage an installer program into custom WindowsInstaller setups using a tool such as AppDeploy Repackager.

The tool aligns with AppDeploy’s community involvement. It uses a fileformat that can be shared among all AppDeploy members. With AppDeployRepackager, administrators can generate the custom Windows Installerpackages they need with a free and easy to use tool and then share theresults with others through the community, according to Bob Kelly,founder of AppDeploy and senior product manager at KACE. KACEpurchased AppDeploy.com in 2007.

“We are providing a tool for a good base of about 80 percent of ITadministrators,” Kelly told TechNewsWorld.

Costly Alternatives

Microsoft’s installer application is very complex to set up from anapplication developer’s viewpoint, he said. It does not always trackall system changes.

This is especially a problem with large deployments of softwarethroughout a vast network. When an application is uninstalled, theprocess can actually break the system, explained Kelly.

Commercial repackaging tools can be very costly. Several availableproducts are owned by companies that have been sold several times.That can cause complicated technical support for IT managers, he said.

Fills Void

AppDeploy is the only free application available that creates an MSIinstallation routine, according to Kelly. Several complex installer editors exist, but they do not actuallycreate sharable project files. The purpose of such tools is to createan installation file.

“Until now, there hasn’t been a free tool available to theadministrators that address repackaging,” said Ian Northwood ofDeepnet Limited, a longtime AppDeploy community member andcontributor. “I’m beyond thrilled with this offer from AppDeploy. Andwith its sharable format, it’s sure to become a favorite ofadministrators around the world who are charged with the customizationof software installs which can be an incredibly time consuming andtedious process.”

AppDeploy uses a wizard interface, making it easy to use, Kelly added.

“It will offer advantages for migrating a legacy application to MSI (Microsoft Installer)format. It will have a growing usefulness,” said Kelly.

Not Open Source

AppDeploy is freeware, but is not an open source product, Kelly noted.

“We are not charging for it and don’t intend to charge for it,” he said.

Offering therepackaging tool for free will give developers and softwareprofessionals another reason to come to the AppDeploy community, he said.

Already in Use

AppDeploy Repackager has been available as an alpha product for thelast few weeks. A beta version that Kelly described as both fullyfunctional and very stable was released on Oct. 6.

AppDeploy will release version 1.0 on Nov. 3. Download it here.

“We’ve had a few hundred downloads of the alpha version. All of thetweaking is completed now,” said Kelly. “AppDeploy has already provenitself a valuable resource thanks largely to the many contributorsthat regularly share tips and answer questions to the most challengingof software deployment issues.”

The Community

The AppDeploy.com community boasts more than 250,000 monthly visitors. TheWeb site maintains a broad knowledge base updated by more than 25,000contributing professionals to provide computer administrators safe,reliable access to data on hundreds of thousands of applications.

The community offers members an easy way to search for answers andbest practices to a vast range of technical issues. The forum portioncontains articles and training videos as well as specific informationon how to solve installation programs and other technical difficultieswith a variety of software, according to Kelly.

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