How Do I Build MSI, UWP and WSA App Packages from the Same Project? Find Answers in the What’s New in InstallShield 2016 Q&A

The webinar, What’s New In InstallShield 2016, highlighted the important features in this new release, including compatibility testing for Microsoft’s Universal Windows Platform, mapped MSI relationships, customizable Windows tiles and more.

It also provided a great Q&A session, which resulted in the important information below. Need more? Don’t forget the Flexera Community or you can contact us directly.

1. Will the packages built with InstallShield support sideloading?
Yes, InstallShield 2016 supports sideloading, which is a way of installing a Universal Windows app package or .Appx files without using the Windows Store. Whether you want to host this on your web page and download (just double click to install them) or enable enterprise IT to load it into your system center, your enterprise customers can deploy this application out to many users. They would be able to load this Appx file into their system center configuration manager, LANdesk, IBM or other solutions out there to sideload or deliver straight to users silently without using the Windows Store.

2. Can I build MSI, UWP and WSA packages from the same project? Possible by defining two different releases? Use Release Flags or conditions for UWP- or WSA-specific components?
Absolutely. You'll be able to have all that together at once. If you want your app to install on servers, desktops and still have MSI for Windows 7 or Server 2012 space, you'll have a wide range of outputs that you can build all at once and is easy to maintain. Microsoft has lightweight tooling out there to help you build your first Appx package and it's really built for one-time conversion. If you're done with MSI and ready to go with that one-time step, that bridge will help. We've taken a different approach and focused on the need to tie into your build process. This is something that you can keep up-to-date in your project file in every build. It will stay up-to-date in all formats and is not a one-time shift. It's a continuous process. Windows 7 is not going end-of-life until 2020 and Windows 8 not until 2024. We still have installer needs for these for some time and will need to update them for a period of time.

3. When doing UWP, what about prerequisites? Like SQL, Compact DB or SQL local?
If your prerequisites were also MSI files, then we would convert to Appx and merge them if going into the Store. If not going into the Store and continuing to work direct with users through the web site, they can be bundled with a bootstrapper. The IS suite engine, a powerful bootstrapper, can bring in MSI, .exe, Appx packages and PowerShell scripts. It can handle that complexity and then will take all children, scripts and run-time into a single .exe or merge into one Appx.

4. Has InstallShield 2016 implemented any solutions to the flat folder structure in the Windows 10 apps list? For example, when we install to the Start Bar, we get one folder and everything we install goes into that folder. Is there a solution for that?
In the Windows 10 start screen, there is no concept of folders on the pin to the start screen. The start menu list does have a folder concept in Windows 10. Windows 10 handles it better handles better than Windows 8, but it has nothing to do with InstallShield. If you have a folder of shortcuts in your installer, it will create a folder of shortcuts in the Windows 10 screen. But if someone goes to pin, they will have a flat experience.

5. When we combine multiple Appx packages, do we need to use the InstallShield Suite Installer? Can we chain an .exe to it as well?
The InstallShield Suite engine is the only bootstrapper that we've added that can launch and run Appx packages. The traditional setup exe bootstrapper would not call an Appx. You would need to use Suite bootstrapper, but the other option is to merge into a single .exe file.

6. It's my first time hearing about Appx and its requirements. Is it true that those of us who build installers that require user inputs will not be able to take advantage of the Appx format?
Not within the package itself. What you could use is a bootstrapper in the InstallShield Suite Installer. One option is the boot could ask the question and continue to run PowerShell scripts, calling the external scripts and components to deliver that customization. Appx delivers bits and the bootstrapper can do customization outside of that, but Appx does not support interaction and customization during the experience.

7. Do the tile configurations only apply if Windows 10 is used and will it still allow one installer or a single shortcut?
Tile configurations work with Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. It does not work with Windows 8 and does not apply to Windows 7. They can be added to a package and will appear on the appropriate OS. The tiles can have multiples. You can still install MSI and provide a new set of information explaining when the user would append MSI start information (what colors and images would appear). You can go with all the tiles you want on the InstallShield screen.

 

InstallShield® is the industry standard for development teams creating installers for Windows desktops, servers, and cloud platforms, and helps to prepare applications for emerging technologies like the Windows Store and Nano Server. Over 100,000 developers around the world trust InstallShield to develop EXE and MSI installers, create Universal Windows Platform (UWP) and Windows Server App (WSA) packages, and virtualize their applications with minimal scripting, coding, or rework. Get your free trial of InstallShield today or contact us for more information. 

InstallAnywhere is the leading multiplatform development solution for application producers who need to deliver a professional and consistent cross installation experience for physical, virtual and cloud environments. From a single project file and build environment, InstallAnywhere creates reliable installations for on-premises platforms – Windows, Linux, Apple OS X, Solaris, AIX , HP-UX, and IBM iSeries – and enables you to take existing and new software products to a virtual and cloud infrastructure and build Docker containers.  Get your free trial of InstallAnywhere or contact us for more information. 

 

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