Migrating to App-v seems like a very good way to manage your applications. But yes, it also means that you will have to repackage all those applications… one more time!

Indeed, while a lot of companies have been standardizing on Msi packages, this won’t be of much help now you are moving to a completely different packaging method. Of course, if you followed recommendations and have documented the install process for each setup that you rebuilt as Msi, this information will be very usefull. But wouldn’t it be nice if you could just take those Msi and convert them to App-v packages ?

That would be very nice indeed. And that is exactly what the Adminstudio Automated Application converter(s) are supposed to do for you (with a little help from you of course).

For those of you who have spent some of their time in the last ten years repackaging applications, it is very probable that you worked or at least heard about Adminstudio (Formerly Installshield, Macrovision, and now Flexera Software). For the others, let’s say that it is a suite of tools that allow to build Msi packages from other formats via snapshots or installation monitoring, very similar to what the Sequencer does for App-v.

Before I go further, some remarks. I have no link to Flexera software, except as a customer for several years now. One other important point is that the solution has a cost. You would need to buy a license for Adminstudio* and an additional license for the ‘Virtualization pack’. Note that the limited editions available for free if you already have a Sccm license won’t work for this. Last warning: the option to create an Msi to install the app-v package offline is not available in the evaluation version.

Fine, so how does it work ? Let’s start with a basic Msi package.

Open Installshield, and open your Msi package (I took Adobe Acrobat Reader X as an example),

Select Application Conversion Wizard

.

Choose the type of virtual application you would like to create (note the different choices below, with the first one being the Msi

‘wrapper’ that allows to deploy your app-v packages, not a standard Msi output)

For Msi sources, the program is able to repackage to App-v without having to install the application.

For other types of sources (setup.exe, etc), the repackager will use a virtual machine to install the package

like you would do manually with the Sequencer. The operation of the VM is done via scripting through the corresponding APIs.

For this Msi we won’t use a Virtual machine.

Next step is to define the platforms that you want the package to run on.

[Note: For those who have used the Command line sequencer, those settings (Platforms, compression, etc) are properly kept]

You have the option to change files and shortcuts and registry settings, as well as define mst files to apply.

You can define here Dynamic Suite Composition Dependencies.

The Build process now simulates the Msi install and creates an App-v package from it.

The report logs include potential problems with the package.

One thing to be aware of, is that the current release (Adminstudio 10) is based on App-v Client 4.5, not the latest 4.6 client.

That’s it for the ‘basic’ conversion of Msi packages with Installshield / Adminstudio (needs at least Standard Professional version 10 + Virtualization Pack). As you can see, for some packages it might make you win quite a bit of time, but if you have already repackaged to App-v, you know that most probably this Adobe Reader App-v package will have to be edited before it deploys and works properly. You can now edit App-v packages directly in the console.

Ok, now I hear you say <‘So what’s the big deal about this Virtualization Pack ? Didn’t you talk about “Automated conversion” ?>

That’s right, what I have shown so far is not very different from the Sequencer, except for the fact that you won’t need to install the Msi.

If you already use Adminstudio in your enterprise. you might want to not only repackage third party apps to App-v but also generate App-v packages

for your in-house developped applications and Installshield can also help here.

But for the Automated Conversion part, you will have to wait… well not for the next version of Adminstudio,  just for the next post 😉

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