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Joel on Software

windows installer too helpful

Does anyone know how to convince the windows installer to be a little less helpful?

I have built a setup with in which I copy over program files as well as a number of sample data files to the target machine. Everything is fine until the user moves or deletes one of the sample files and then opens up the program. The windows installer detects that the installed files are AWOL and re-installs them. The problem gets worse when I try to implement automatic version upgrading. When the update component deletes the no longer needed old files the installer insists on reinstalling these too.

Logically there is a property I can set to tell the installer which components are critical and which are OK for a user to delete or otherwise manage. If there is though I can not find it via the interface.

Any help appreciated. TIA


David Smith
Monday, November 17, 2003

It's been a while since I've looked at this, but as I recall the Windows Installer reinstalls all the files in a feature if the KeyPath for the component associated with that feature is missing or damaged.

Unfortunately I don't think the minimal support for Windows Installer lets you get at components, features, or KeyPath information. You will probably find, as many others have, that you need to resort to a more capable third-party product to build installations.

Mike Gunderloy
Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Is it possible then to modify these settings directly in the msi using a tool like Orca? If so does anyone know which entries need to be changed?


David Smith
Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Windows Installer overcomplicates things as far as I'm concerned. InnoSetup and the helper app IStool do the job for me.

Duncan Smart
Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Well, sure, since Orca will let you edit everything. But it's not going to be as simple as flipping a switch; you'll probably need to reorganize things a bit. Start by looking at the Component, Feature, and FeatureComponents tables. Together with the Installer SDK (which is on MSDN) that should let you see how your setup is partitioned into features and components, and figure out why you're seeing the reinstall behavior.

Mike Gunderloy
Wednesday, November 19, 2003

>>Windows Installer overcomplicates things
>>as far as I'm concerned.
>> InnoSetup does the job for me.

My thoughts exactly - I don't get it why MS messes up a basically good idea (making the installer uniform, and a part of the OS) with such a convoluted design .....

Marc Scheuner
Friday, November 21, 2003

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