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Tools: Patching and Update Delivery

Creating Patches

Windows Installer

Windows Installer (MSI) technology supports creating differential update patches. Many MSI authoring tools help you to populate the required tables, but you can also create patches using the tools from Microsoft's Windows Installer SDK.

WWW Microsoft SDK documentation

RTPatch for Windows

RTPatch - a commercial product from Pocket Soft, Inc. - supports Windows Installer based setups as well as non-Windows Installer-based patching.

WWW Pocket Soft, Inc.

Automatic Update Notification and Delivery

Note: some setup authoring tools already include an update notification tool, or have an interface to a tool from the same manufacturer.

FlexNet Connect

FlexNet Connect keeps vendors connected to users by electronically delivering applications, updates, and messages directly to their systems. It can also provide usage statistics to improve software development and marketing.
FlexNet Connect is a commercial product from Flexera Software, the makers of InstallShield and AdminStudio.

FlexNet Connect was formerly called InstallShield Update Service, which was the replacement for InstallShield's WebUpdate product.

Order FlexNet Connect in the InstallSite Shop

FlexNet Connect

Trial account available.

ENGLISH English InstallSite Shop     GERMAN German InstallSite Shop

Manufacturer: Flexera Software (USA). Previous company names include Acresso and Macrovision.
License: Commercial

WWW Web Site   Purchase

WiX ClickThrough: Auto-update Detection

WiX (Windows Installer XML toolset) is an open source project for an MSI authoring tool. Part of the project is ClickThrough, a set of add-on tools, including a tool to automatically detect available updates (via an RSS feed), notify users and install the update.

WWW WiX ClickThrough Project

Automatic Updates for .NET Applications

The methods described in the following paragraph are not compatible with Windows Installer (MSI). If your application is installed using MSI then you should create your update as a Windows Installer patch (.msp) and use an update notification tool to send it to your customers.

Automatically Upgrade Your .NET Applications On-the-Fly

Anthony Glenwright has written an article that describes the built-in deployment capabilities of the .NET framework - and its shortcomings for rich client applications, and presents a class library that gives you the ability to add automatic upgrade capabilities to your .NET Windows forms applications. The code for the AutoUpgrade Class Framework is available for download from the article.

WWW Read the article at

Write Auto-Updating Apps with .NET and the Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) API

Both the .NET Framework and Windows have some very interesting APIs for creating applications that are capable of updating themselves automatically over a network. There are many advantages to writing your application to update itself like Windows Update does, including convenience for your users, from easier maintenance to network administration. Automatic updates require attention to factors such as discovery, security, and file replacement. In this article, the author, Jason Clark, covers the BITS API as well as a number of features of the .NET Framework that take care of these facets of auto-updating using the same facilities that the Windows Update uses.
Article and sample code published in MSDN Magazin, February 2003.

WWW Read the article at MSDN Magazin

Related Tools

Time Stamp Your Files

There are various tools to set the "last modified" date and time of a file. Many are shareware or freeware. The following links to Programmers Heaven list several downloadable utilities:

Programmers Heaven



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