Wise for Visual Studio .NET is a
total and complete installation development system for creating and editing
Windows® Installer (.MSI) installation packages that is 100% integrated
into the Visual Studio.NET IDE. . It is a complete and user-friendly front
end for generating Windows Installer database files, which are executed
by the Windows Installer engine. With Wise for Visual Studio .NET, you
can create installations that are compliant with Microsoft's Windows 2000
logo program. You can also use Wise for Visual Studio .NET to edit and
refine installations that you've imported from WiseScripts or SMS installations,
or that you've recreated with SetupCapture or ApplicationWatch. The Wise
integrated help system is full and complete, and becomes another part
of your existing Visual Studio.NET help collection.
for Visual Studio .NET is the first complete, seamless integration
of the entire installation authoring environment directly into the Visual
Studio® .NET development environment. This tight integration allows
for automatic synchronization of your development project with your installation,
saving you time and significantly improving the quality of your installations.
This unique level of integration with Visual Studio .NET make creating
sophisticated installation packages for your VS.NET solution a real pleasure,
and will prove to be a great productivity tool for any developer or organization
that develops software that customers must install by themselves, quickly,
efficiently, and with little or no expensive and time-consuming customer
support calls or visits!
· All .EXEs, .DLLs, .OCXs, and assemblies are
added to the installation automatically when added to your solution. Installation
parameters such as Application Name, Version, and Default Directory are
pre-populated using data from your solution. The Package handles installing
shared assemblies into the GAC.
The overall layout of the Wise for Visual Studio.Net
system is virtually identical to the award-winning "non-.NET"
versions of Wise Installer. Your installation can be fully customizedfor
example, by editing dialogs or by adding custom logic using Wises
exclusive MSI Script technologywithout leaving the familiar
Visual Studio .NET environment.
Installations synchronize automatically with the other
projects in the solution. For example, adding a .DLL to the solution
automatically adds it to the installation, and installations adjust automatically
to the Build Configuration you select by pulling the source files from
the appropriate build directory.
· Adding code to support install-on-demand is
a simple process now that the application code and the installation share
the same development environment. · Installations can now be created
much earlier in the application development life cycle, and the learning
curve for installation is significantly lower because of the common user
Although I am a reasonably experienced Wise user, having
preferred the Wise product line over competitors such as Installshield
for several years because of its ease-of-use, wizard - based interface,
and MSIScript scriptable IDE for customizing installations, I was very
pleased by the fact that the interface that comes up in VS.NET when you
select a new Wise project starts right out with the familiar look and
feel of "just another project type:"
But that's only the beginning! When you've started your
project, you'll be presented with the same productive, classic Wise layout
you are familiar with, including the Installation Expert, MSI Script and
Setup Editor tabs:
Notice in the reduced screenshot above that the WebDeploy
panel is shown in the VS work area. This is one of the coolest Wise features.
WebDeploy lets you create Web-based installations that minimize bandwidth
requirements by downloading only the files needed for the installation.
For example, if you set your installation to pre-install the Windows Installer
runtime, and the destination computer already has that runtime installed,
then the runtime file is not downloaded. Or perhaps your installation
contains multiple features. With WebDeploy, only the features the user
selects during installation are downloaded and installed.
Wise provide so many useful integrated tools with this
package that I can't even begin to do them justice here in a short review.
Features like WiseScript Express, MSI Script, use of Merge Modules, installing
assemblies in the GAC (and many other .NET - specific features) are all
included in this system.
Microsoft has always had a sort of "policy"
of developing "the basics" when it comes to Installation projects,
editors, migration wizards and other related tools, and giving the "green
light" to selected software developer organizations to really "kick
in the afterburners" and develop sophisticated, commercial versions
of the technology with the blessing of the folks at Redmond. Even the
VB.NET migration wizard was created this way. It's pretty obvious that
the Wise Solutions people have been working very closely with Redmond
over a long period of time to earn this level of trust - because Wise
for Visual Studio .NET is one world - class installation - development
My first MSI installer project with this product was
created using the Wizard - type project and included a shared assembly
installed in the GAC. I did it in less than 10 minutes, and without
even reading one line of the extensive documentation (your mileage may
vary)! I was able to personalize the dialog screens in just seconds,
and the result was a first-class installation MSI that worked right out
of the "double-click". You can go into Add/Remove in Control
Panel and do a Repair or an Uninstall. Almost all the features are customizable,
and very sophisticated scripting is possible. That's how easy it is to
My take on Wise
for Visual Studio .NET? Highly recommended! Unless somebody comes
out with a better product soon (not very likely), then if you need to
save your company a bunch of time and money creating quality, maintainable
software installations for the .NET platform, this is one investment
that you should not delay.
Peter Bromberg is an independent consultant specializing in distributed .NET solutions
Inc. in Orlando and a co-developer of the NullSkull.com
developer website. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org