Wednesday, April 17, 2013

IPA MarketPlace Download to Deployment Part 2

Hello again folks! It's been a while. I've been busy working on some more IPA projects plus an internal deployment of Interaction Analyzer at ININ that does a hand-off to IPA, but more on that later.

Today we're going to check out Ross Blaettner's article continuation of his previous piece, IPA MarketPlace Download to Deployment.

This topic is targeted at IPA Template and other developers who wish to sell their ININ wares on the ININ MarketPlace. We're assuming you're already on board, but if not, get signed up for the ININ MarketPlace with Dionne Flickinger and tell her RickM sent you.

Also, don't forget to get yourself registered for ININ's Interactions 2013 if you haven't already. The theme this year is "Deliver the Experience" and I'll be co-presenting on a couple of sessions on IPA with rockstars like Geoff Calhoun and, of course, Jason Loucks (as we did at Interactions last year). More on that before the conference. 

For now, take it away Ross and thanks again for your contributions!

MarketPlace Download to Deployment, Part Two:

Everything, and the kitchen sink!
by Ross Blaettner

There’s something special about the allure and mystique of a secret recipe. Surely, the ingredients exist—we might recognize them in their individual parts. However, it’s their varying combinations, preparations, and inspired creativity that make great cuisine.

The chef’s challenge is to concoct a palatable solution with wide-ranging appeal and consistent reproduction.

(Hopefully, you are making the connection with a pleasant installation experience, using varied operating environments, while achieving repeatable, quality deployments. If not, well, you are now.)

Here is a starting list of ingredients in my metaphorical kitchen. Feel free to add, or substitute with, your own. By the way, these components are freely available and graciously linked for the so inclined.
Start with Auto-It. The macro language, with its basic-like syntax is refreshing, surprisingly powerful, and abstracts mundane OS details. It also interacts nicely with the Windows UI and GUI-based applications. At their primal core, the scripting commands originate from the IT profession, for purposes of automated software deployments, configuration, and the like. Use Auto-It for fine-grained control of operations, settings, and integration. You could quite practically build a basic installer with Auto-It alone, but more appropriate and overall effective tools follow.

Remember, pack what you will need. Regardless of whether or not you would want to, you cannot feasibly oversee every deployment of your solution. In that case, you need to package your intelligence and necessary resources into an automated installer. Advanced Installer provides a free offering that will copy, pack, unpack and install files, and generally get the table set for the next course.

If you need to tweak the install tables, you certainly can—with InstaEdit for MSI-based packages. The generated install packages contain, among other resources, tables of relational instructions that can dramatically alter the experience and “flavor.” Sometimes, some extra spice is good, and sometimes it’s not. Consult the guide. You’ll just have to test and decide.

If neither here nor there, check with delta, i.e., WinMerge. You can certainly test the generated installer by comparing conditions before it starts and after it finishes. Examine the difference to see what happens. Are you getting what you ordered?

Interactive Update. With all due compliments to Interactive Intelligence, this is the toaster oven of speedy rollouts. If your solution requires delivery to multiple destinations within an organization, then Interactive Update is one simple and intuitive option. Network administrators can associate MSI’s or MSP’s, a la Advanced Installer, with Interactive Update, for automated, scheduled deployment. Presto.

Come back again soon, to the Interaction Center MarketPlace. Socialize with the community. Exchange ideas. Monitor ratings and reviews. How is your solution performing? What general guidance can you provide to your install base to invigorate their interest? Is it time to update your recipe, to keep things new and fresh?

When you’re ready to improve or innovate, create an MSP revision from Advanced Installer. Zip and send it to Make sure that it’s ready to serve for the next appetite.

What are your favorite installer tools and utilities?

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