Data Services Newsletter

Volume 4 : No 3 : September 2002

DMC purchases powerful software installer tool

Have you ever wondered how the software you download off the Internet or purchase on CD-ROM gets packaged into what we refer to as “installers”? The process generally involves the developers of the software arranging their files into packages or bundles, along with graphics for splash screens and advertisements and whatnot, and some sort of bootstrap mechanism to install all of these items into their correct locations after download. Recently the DMC joined many other companies and institutions in purchasing one such installer maker called InstallAnywhere (IA) from San Francisco based ZeroG Software Incorporated Flexera Software.

Generally used for Java applications, IA simplifies deploying software onto many client and server platforms. It handles much of the complexity automatically, configuring the software exactly as we want it, with a fairly uniform user install experience across platforms. It supports many platforms, including the latest editions of Windows, Mac OS, Solaris, Linux, HP-UX, AIX, and more. And, it has built in support for 29 languages. It is extremely customizable allowing us to brand our software with the same images, logos and licensing information. Most people report favorable experiences and impressions after using these installers. There is a log file produced showing exactly what was put where, and an “uninstaller” as well, which is another nice feature.

Installers can be run through a console window or via telnet, silently (with no user interaction), or through a traditional graphical wizard, invoked from a web page. If we need even more functionality, InstallAnywhere’s powerful open API allows a significant degree of extensibility and customization.

I find that the easy-to-use, intuitive and well-designed user interface allows me to build installers quickly and efficiently, using a Wizard in under ten minutes, or using the Advanced Designer’s powerful graphical interface to build customized installers that control every facet of the deployment process. The What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) file/folder tree shows what will be installed where on the end-user’s system.

Right now the DMC has purchased one license for IA at a cost of around $1000 academic. It is installed and running on a Mac OS X machine in Seattle and is mostly being used for delivering FISSURES/DHI clients.

by Russ Welti (IRIS Data Management Center)

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