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2000-06-09 19:45:33+00 by Dan Lyke 6 comments

I hate GUIs #90342: I've been working on an CGI app in Perl, which now needs a Windows installer which your average suit in a small office and no IS department can use to put it on their web server. "No worries" thinks I, because after all I wrote InstallShield installers back in the days of the Pixar interactive group and it was easy. So I pop up the current generation of installer tools, and gone is that nice, easy to read script, all of a sudden I'm stuck in dialog box and cute little collapsible tree hell trying to figure out how the whole information flow thing happens. Ya know, it'd be really nice if, instead of trying to compartmentalize all this silly information it'd just give it to me in a text file that I can alter with tools I'm already familiar with. OO design can be a good thing, but not every problem is a god-damned nail, okay? Sorry, just getting a little testy.

[ related topics: Pixar Religion Interactive Drama Animation Microsoft ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:30:03+00 by: Dan Lyke

AAAaaaargh! It's no wonder Steve gave up writing installers for us and is taking off for "Montana" (that's as much detail as I've got, and for all I know that means "ha ha, I've gone to Maryland!"). I hate Windows, with all it's damned clicky pointyness and it's "no, you've got to create property Y to link this button to it, and properties are created in that other dialog box". Heaven forbid I should actually be able to view both boxes at the same time! I take back everything I've said about Microsoft, maybe Microsoft users are the übergods of everything and can keep all this stuff in their minds at one time, but more than likely they're just not used to doing any sort of install that involves more than scratching their butt with one finger while clicking "ok". I never thought I'd be praising Emacs as user friendly, but compared to this crap...

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:30:03+00 by: scm

I'm seeing more and more installers based on Wise's products, but I don't have any experience with them. Maybe they suck less? http://www.wisesolutions.com/products.htm

It looks like ZDnet has a piece comparing installers: http://www.zdnet.com/pcmag/features/install/

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:30:03+00 by: scm

I just realized that ZDnet review is from '98....

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:30:03+00 by: ziffle

Wise is much better... Grumpy!. Seems like you need more sex. <g> After sex all installers seem more understandable. For that matter women seem more understandable after sex. Anyway...

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:30:03+00 by: Mike Gunderloy

Much of the problem in the Windows software installation universe right now is due to the new Windows Installer Service. Using this service is mandatory for any application that wants the Windows 2000 logo, but unfortunately it didn't stabilize until Win2K was released, so the ISVs have had to scramble to keep up. The Windows Installer is entirely database-driven (I could rant some about poor database design, but I'd probably have to violate NDAs to do so) and believe it or not, the InstallShield and Wise interfaces are substantially less confusing than the underlying technology. The latest versions of both Wise and InstallShield are quite good -- IS in particular is just out with a new version (1.5) of their Windows Installer product that offers the first decent support for patches. Painful though it is, I'd recommend using one of the Windows Installer based products rather than one of the more mature proprietary solutions, if your own product is going to keep going for more than a year -- none of the setup ISVs are investing major resources in their own solutions any more.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:30:04+00 by: Dan Lyke

I'm using InstallShield, and yes, I agree that most of the issues I'm coming up against are based on the underlying Windows database structure. The worst part is that this is an application meant to go in a web server, it needs no place on the start bar, and the only need for registry services is that the client anticipates that their average Windows user is too stupid to do a "DELTREE" (ummm... excuse me, drag an icon into the "Recycling bin"). I think maybe I need to take a look at Wise.