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Tools: Miscellaneous

Shortcut Information Utility

Shortcutinfo is a little utility to quickly display short cut information such as the working directory or if the shortcut is advertised. Simply launch it and drag and drop the shortcut onto program window.

ZIP ShortCutInfo.zip   Written by Michael Presutti
File size: 63.409 bytes   Last update: 2007-11-10

AutoIt to Control External Programs

AutoIt v3 is a freeware BASIC-like scripting language designed for automating the Windows GUI and general scripting. It uses a combination of simulated keystrokes, mouse movement and window/control manipulation in order to automate tasks. It also has a COM interface so instead of a script you can control the external program "live" at runtime of your application or setup. AutoIt was initially designed for PC "roll out" situations to reliably configure thousands of PCs, but also is quite useful for running sub-installs that don't have a silent mode.

See also: InstallScript Sample for using AutoIt

WWW AutoIt Web site

Automatically Reboot Windows

This is a utility to reboot a Windows NT, Windows 2000 and Windows XP system with a delay of 10 seconds. The program should also work on Win95, Win98 and WinME, but has not been tested. While the Windows NT Resource Kit provides a shutdown utility, this one shuts the system down a bit more ruthlessly. This program causes Windows to shut down without sending the WM_QUERYENDSESSION message. Programs such as MS Word use this message to ask users to save their work, and may request a stop shutdown. Since the message is not sent, the system shuts down fairly quickly, and no message boxes should get displayed by any running applications. You can use this in an automated environment, to force a reboot. The utility installs a CTRL+C handler, so that you can abort the run. It also counts down from 9 to 0 one second at a time, to indicate how much time you have left before the system goes down. It is a console mode program (signed), with the full source (Visual C++ 7.1) included.
The utility includes one option (-w) with which you can specify a UNC pathname. When this option is used, the system will wait for a particular file to become available before attempting a reboot. This option is useful for creating a test-machine that auto-installs a build of a software; the program just monitors for setup.exe to be available on the build server before rebooting. The reboot can then re-image the target computer, reboot into the new image and launch the installer.

ZIP RebootMe.zip   Written by Friedrich Brunzema
File size: 32.297 bytes   Last update: 2003-11-12

Virtual Machines and Operating System Imaging

It is important to test your setup on a clean Windows installation to avoid side effects. You also need a fresh operating system if you want to repackage a legacy setup program. You can either do this by wiping the hard drive of your test machine or by running a clean operating system in a "sand box".  With these tools you can easily save and restore your test configuration, thus ensuring reproducible results, and ease the pain if your setup crashed the operating system. It's also great to swap operating system versions to test your setup on multiple platforms.

Virtual Machine Software

VMware Workstation

VMWare creates virtual machines that can run side by side.

GERMAN German VMware Support Forum

Microsoft Virtual PC

Virtual PC creates virtual machines that can run side by side.

Drive Imaging Software

Norton Ghost

WWW Symantec homepage

SQL Server Database Tools

Tools to package and deploy SQL Server databases are available from Red Gate Sofwtare Ltd.

WWW Red Gate homepage

Make Utilities

vbMake

vbMake is an automated build tool that supports selective and incremental builds, analyzes build integrity and component dependencies, is integrated with Visual SourceSafe for configuration management, maintains build histories and synchronizes version numbers etc. A feature limited free version (vbMake Express) is also available.

WWW Diakonos Corporation

Simple Installation Tools

Here are some tools that create light-weight installation packages.

IExpress

IExpress is a free tool from Microsoft

IExpress is a utility that lets you create standalone installation packages that can be used to extract files or temporarily extract installation source files and then run the setup command. Note that the extracted files get deleted when the launched process terminates. If your exe spawns another process the files may be removed too early.

WWW Read the article on Calwell.ca for more information about IExpress

INF-Tool

INF-Tool is a shareware product created by Inner-Smile.com

Windows (versions 9x and NT4) has a built-in setup mechanism that can be used to install software without much overhead for setup programs. The installation process is controlled by an INF file. Such setups support uninstallation and some basic user interface, but no scripting or other advanced features. They come in handy for simple installations tasks such as software updates. The INF file format is specified in the Windows Resource Kit, but the documentation is not very helpful an it's not easy to learn the INF syntax.
With this tool you set up your project in eight steps through a graphical interface - the INF file is then created automatically. It also creates single-file installs as EXE, CAB or ZIP file. The tool can even import existing INF files for convenient analyzing.

WWW Visit Inner-Smile.com to download the evaluation version and get more information

 

Non-MSI Setup Authoring Tools moved to a separate page.

 

 

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