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AppDeploy Community Launches Free Windows Installer Tool

By Jack M. Germain
Oct 8, 2008 4:00 AM PT

AppDeploy, an online community for both systems management professionals and application and computer administrators has released a free software tool called "AppDeploy Repackager." The tool is the industry's first free application dedicated to the complex task of Windows Installer repackaging, according to the company.

AppDeploy Community Launches Free Windows Installer Tool

Software developers use a repackager to generate a custom, silent installer based on changes that are made to a system when installing and configuring software. While the Microsoft Windows Installer setups are highly customizable, many software vendors still provide their own applications rather than use the Microsoft .MSI format.

In order to effectively deploy software in a custom, silent manner, IT managers often must repackage an installer program into custom Windows Installer setups using a tool such as AppDeploy Repackager.

The tool aligns with AppDeploy's community involvement. It uses a file format that can be shared among all AppDeploy members. With AppDeploy Repackager, administrators can generate the custom Windows Installer packages they need with a free and easy to use tool and then share the results with others through the community, according to Bob Kelly, founder of AppDeploy and senior product manager at KACE. KACE purchased AppDeploy.com in 2007.

"We are providing a tool for a good base of about 80 percent of IT administrators," Kelly told TechNewsWorld.

Costly Alternatives

Microsoft's installer application is very complex to set up from an application developer's viewpoint, he said. It does not always track all system changes.

This is especially a problem with large deployments of software throughout a vast network. When an application is uninstalled, the process can actually break the system, explained Kelly.

Commercial repackaging tools can be very costly. Several available products are owned by companies that have been sold several times. That can cause complicated technical support for IT managers, he said.

Fills Void

AppDeploy is the only free application available that creates an MSI installation routine, according to Kelly. Several complex installer editors exist, but they do not actually create sharable project files. The purpose of such tools is to create an installation file.

"Until now, there hasn't been a free tool available to the administrators that address repackaging," said Ian Northwood of Deepnet Limited, a longtime AppDeploy community member and contributor. "I'm beyond thrilled with this offer from AppDeploy. And with its sharable format, it's sure to become a favorite of administrators around the world who are charged with the customization of software installs which can be an incredibly time consuming and tedious process."

AppDeploy uses a wizard interface, making it easy to use, Kelly added.

"It will offer advantages for migrating a legacy application to MSI (Microsoft Installer) format. It will have a growing usefulness," said Kelly.

Not Open Source

AppDeploy is freeware, but is not an open source product, Kelly noted.

"We are not charging for it and don't intend to charge for it," he said.

Offering the repackaging tool for free will give developers and software professionals another reason to come to the AppDeploy community, he said.

Already in Use

AppDeploy Repackager has been available as an alpha product for the last few weeks. A beta version that Kelly described as both fully functional and very stable was released on Oct. 6.

AppDeploy will release version 1.0 on Nov. 3. Download it here.

"We've had a few hundred downloads of the alpha version. All of the tweaking is completed now," said Kelly. "AppDeploy has already proven itself a valuable resource thanks largely to the many contributors that regularly share tips and answer questions to the most challenging of software deployment issues."

The Community

The AppDeploy.com community boasts more than 250,000 monthly visitors. The Web site maintains a broad knowledge base updated by more than 25,000 contributing professionals to provide computer administrators safe, reliable access to data on hundreds of thousands of applications.

The community offers members an easy way to search for answers and best practices to a vast range of technical issues. The forum portion contains articles and training videos as well as specific information on how to solve installation programs and other technical difficulties with a variety of software, according to Kelly.


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