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Wise Package Studio Overview

Created: 31 Aug 2006 • Updated: 29 Jul 2010 | 2 comments
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Wise Package Studio® is a software management solution that supports the needs of application integration teams. Wise Package Studio provides a complete set of tools to support every phase of the application integration lifecycle, including repackaging, package quality assurance, and release management.

Use Wise Package Studio to:

  • Improve the reliability of software installations. Wise Package Studio provides the processes and tools to effectively test an application prior to mass deployment, which reduces support costs and increases end user productivity.
  • Enable faster and more reliable software rollouts by streamlining the process of preparing applications for distribution. Wise Package Studio accomplishes this through its project management tools and built-in processes that incorporate industry best practices.
  • Support organizational standardization. Wise Package Studio employs a repeatable, scalable process that helps standardize your application integration tasks. Its complete editing capabilities let you customize the way software is installed.
  • Achieve a greater return on your Windows 2000/XP/Server 2003 investment. Wise Package Studio provides complete capabilities for migrating applications to Windows Installer format, and customizing and validating Windows Installer packages.
  • Manage every package used in your organization through each of its lifecycle phases, whether it is undergoing customization, in production, or retired.

Topics include:

Introduction to Wise Package Studio

Wise Package Studio consists of a collection of tools for repackaging, package quality assurance, and release management. You access these tools through the Wise Package Studio interface, which is called Workbench. Workbench provides two views: the Project tab and the Tools tab. Choose the one that best fits your organization's standards and the size and complexity of your integration jobs.

In addition to running the Wise Package Studio tools, you also use Workbench to customize processes, manage projects, and set user security.

Workbench Project Tab

Use the Project tab to run Wise Package Studio tools as part of a process-oriented workflow that provides a logical, consistent approach to application integration. To take full advantage of this approach, you set up:

  • Projects, which define the job you need to accomplish. (Example: Repackaging an application.)
  • Processes, which represent a list of tasks that you perform to complete a project. Wise Package Studio contains predefined processes that are based on industry best practices, and you can create new processes as needed. You can associate a process with any number of projects, which saves time, reduces training requirements, and lets you apply a consistent methodology to similar projects.
  • Tasks, each of which represents a single step to be performed in a process. A task can be associated with a Wise Package Studio tool. Other tasks might not be associated with a tool but might list an action that you need to perform during the process. (Examples: Establish a clean machine, install software.)

Click the Run link to the right of a task to run the tool that is associated with that task. Example: The Create package task runs SetupCapture®, which creates a package by capturing the changes that are made during the installation of a vendor package.

Figure 1

Click to view.

Workbench Tools Tab

Use the Tools tab to access and run Wise Package Studio tools individually in an ad hoc approach to application integration that does not include a process. The Tools tab displays all the available Wise Package Studio tools. You do not have to use the tools in any particular order.

To use a tool, click the Run link to the right of the tool.

Figure 2

Click to view.

The Wise Editors

Wise Package Studio contains several "editor" tools that let you create and edit installation packages for different platforms and technologies.

  • Windows Installer Editor
    For Windows Installer installations (.MSI or .EXE), patches (.MSP), transforms (.MST), and merge modules (.MSP).
  • Wise Virtual Package Editor
    For Virtual software packages (virtual software layer or .VSA) that are used with Altiris Software Virtualization Solution. See Virtual Package Creation
  • Wise Linux Package Editor
    For Linux Red Hat RPM packages. See Linux Package Creation.
  • Wise Mobile Device Package Editor
    For Microsoft® Windows Mobile™ packages for Pocket PC and Smartphone devices (.CAB). See Windows Mobile Package Creation.
  • WiseScript Package Editor
    For WiseScripts (.EXE). See Use of WiseScripts in Wise Package Studio.

Each editor supports a specific platform, yet all the editors have a similar interface that provides a common look and feel and reduces the learning curve.

Every editor contains the Installation Expert view, which lets you create and edit basic installations and provides an easy-to-use, task-oriented user interface to set up the most common installation tasks. Each page of Installation Expert lets you configure a specific aspect of the installation.

For setting up more advanced installation tasks, most editors also contain an alternate interface. In editors that provide scripting capabilities, this alternate interface is in the form of Script Editor, which provides a easy-to-use scripting environment. You create and edit lines in the script by completing dialogs instead of typing the commands, which decreases the chances of syntax or other errors.

The Wise Software Repository

The Wise Software Repository™ is a collection of software packages, resources and information about those resources, project management information, and quality assurance data used by organizations. This scalable repository provides a centralized point for managing software packages at any stage of application integration or deployment.

The Software Manager database is a primary component of the Wise Software Repository. It contains all packages that are used by an organization, including installations, merge modules, patches, transforms, hotfixes, virtual software packages, device drivers, Group Policy Objects, and standard operating system environment snapshots.

In the Software Manager database, each package consists of a collection of resources (example: files, registry keys) and information about where each resource is installed. You also can define dependencies between packages, and specify the installation order for a group of packages. This detailed package information lets you determine exactly what resources a package installs and where it installs them, so you know what impact that package will have on the destination computer.

Every package in the Software Manager database is assigned a status: Under Development, Available, or Retired. Use the package status to determine whether a package can be deployed to end users.

You use the Software Manager tool to import and organize packages and their resource information to the Software Manager database, obtain information about packages and their resources, set the status of packages, and prepare them for deployment.

The Software Manager database is the key point of integration between Wise Package Studio and other Altiris tools. See Integration of Wise Package Studio With Other Altiris Tools.

Windows Installer

Although Wise Package Studio supports several application formats, most of the application integration that you do will involve Windows Installer packages (.MSIs).

Microsoft® Windows® Installer is a Microsoft technology that provides a standard installation engine that can be used for the installation of any 32-bit or 64-bit Windows software application. It resides on the destination computer and performs the installation of applications.

Using Windows Installer results in a reliable installation that reduces the total cost of ownership and enables compliance with the Windows logo program. The primary benefits of Windows Installer are:

  • Installation rollback
    If a Windows Installer installation fails, Windows Installer can return the computer to the precise state it was in before the installation. This includes restoring deleted or overwritten files, registry keys, and other resources.
  • Self-healing
    (Also called automatic repair and self-repair) Windows Installer can repair missing components of the application without rerunning the installation. When an application starts, Windows Installer checks a list of key files and registry entries. If it detects any problems, Windows Installer repairs the application using a cached database that contains key paths to application components.
  • Advertisement
    (Also called install-on-demand and just-in-time installation) Advertised features are not installed but appear installed to the user. Only the entry points for the features are installed. The first time a user invokes an advertised feature, it is installed.
Phases of Application Integration

Wise Package Studio incorporates industry best practices, project management, information flow, and process flow to help manage applications throughout the following phases of application integration:

  • Repackaging
    Typically, before you customize an installation package, you repackage or convert it from its original format. For descriptions of tools that support this phase, see Application Integration: Repackaging.
  • Customizing the repackaged installation
    When the installation package is in the appropriate format, you can customize it so that it adheres to your organization's standards. For descriptions of tools that support this phase, see Application Integration: Customizing.
  • Quality assurance testing (QA)
    After a package has been prepared, it needs to be tested before deployment. The QA phase allows for validating the packages against Microsoft rules as well as your organization's rules, resolving conflicts with already-deployed applications, and performing user acceptance testing. Thorough testing reduces post-rollout costs by integrating the application into the organization's environment before deployment. For descriptions of tools that support this phase, see Application Integration: Package Testing.
  • Release management
    After applications are packaged and tested, they are ready for release, or distribution. During the release management phase, you pass the finished package to a distribution system or network share point for distribution to end users. For descriptions of tools that support this phase, see Application Integration: Release Management.

Application Integration: Repackaging

Repackaging means converting an installation from its original format for the purpose of creating a new, customized installation. Repackaging is a critical step in the application integration process.

Why Should You Repackage?

  • Create consistent and standardized, yet customized, installations.
    Repackaging an installation so that it adheres to your organization's standards reduces the cost of supporting end users' desktops.
  • Create silent installations or limit the options available to end users.
    This streamlines installations and promotes ease of application deployment.
  • Migrate installations to the Windows Installer format.
    Many software installations are not in the Microsoft Windows Installer (.MSI) format. Repackaging those installations lets you take advantage of the Windows Installer features. In addition, Active Directory deployment requires the .MSI format.

What Should Not Be Repackaged?

  • .MSI files
    Installations that are already in .MSI format should not be captured or otherwise converted. Instead, create transforms (.MST files) to customize them. Transforms apply changes to the installation at run time to tailor the installed application to the needs of a particular group of users.
  • Windows Media Player, Microsoft Internet Explorer, antivirus software, and device drivers
    These types of applications make low-level changes to the operating system involving Windows File Protection.
  • Distributable components of an operating system, including service packs, OS security updates, Internet Explorer, MDAC, or the Windows Installer service
    These items are not repackaged because they break Windows security rules. The Windows Installer service might not run or might be modified by these installations. Service packs are not repackaged because it is difficult to capture all of the changes they make to the operating system, and a significant number of service pack files are Microsoft file-protected. MDAC is not repackaged because it is a merge module.

Tools for Repackaging

SetupCapture is the primary repackaging tool in Wise Package Studio. It records all the changes performed by an installation and saves that information to a new package. SetupCapture can also capture the first-use changes that an application makes to a computer, which can be applied to the base .MSI that originally installed the application to simulate the changes made during the first launch. (Example: Acceptance of a license agreement.)

Configuration files control how SetupCapture works, and an exclusion list determines the files, directories, registry values, and registry keys that should be ignored by SetupCapture. You can customize the configuration files and exclusion list.

You can use SetupCapture to capture an installation in a virtual software layer. All changes made to the computer when you capture the installation are put into the layer. You can then delete or deactivate the layer and restore the computer to its original state. Capturing applications into a virtual software layer requires the Software Virtualization Agent, which is installed with Wise Package Studio.

Wise Package Studio also contains the following repackaging tools:

  • Wise Web Capture
    Like SetupCapture, Wise Web Capture records all the changes performed by an installation and saves that information to a new Windows Installer package. However, Wise Web Capture is run from a browser, which lets you capture installations on a clean machine without installing any additional software. It also lets you capture on a computer that is running a non-supported operating system.
  • Legacy Setup Conversion
    Use Legacy Setup Conversion to convert practically any type of installation program into a Windows Installer package. Converting an installation file rather than capturing it retains source paths and other pre-compile information that might not be available in a compiled setup program. However, depending on the format you are importing, some elements of the installation might not be converted.

Application Integration: Customizing

When the installation package is in the appropriate format, you can customize it so that it adheres to your organization's standards.

Editing Repackaged Installations

To edit Windows Installer packages that result from repackaging, use Windows Installer Editor. It is a complete and user-friendly front end for editing and generating Windows Installer database files, which are executed by the Windows Installer engine.

In addition to the Installation Expert interface, Windows Installer Editor contains these views:

  • MSI Script, which provides an easy-to-use environment for editing Windows Installer installation sequences. A sequence is a set of actions that are performed during a particular type of installation.
  • Setup Editor, which is a more advanced view of the installation that lets you create fully customized, interactive installations.

Customizing Vendor-supplied .MSIs

Typically, vendor licensing agreements prohibit you from editing vendor-supplied .MSIs. Instead, use InstallTailor™ to create a transform (.MST) that changes the way the .MSI runs. A transform is a special kind of Windows Installer database that can be applied at run time to a Windows Installer package to customize the installation.

When you run InstallTailor, it simulates an installation, captures the options that you select on the installation dialogs, and creates a transform file that incorporates those selections. Because the installation is only simulated, no changes are made on your computer.

Application Integration: Package Testing

Wise Package Studio contains several tools that support quality assurance testing:

Validating .MSIs

Package Validation checks Windows Installer packages to ensure reliability, internal consistency, and compliance with standards. Error checks are performed based on rules in validation modules, including Microsoft's Application Specification for Windows 2000 and Windows XP. The validation modules are fully customizable to meet organizational standards.

Testing .MSIs in a Lab Environment

Test Expert provides a structured, intelligent approach to testing Windows Installer packages that eliminates the random approach often used in an ad hoc testing environment. Test Expert generates test cases based on the .MSI contents and lets you add test cases that fit your organization's needs. Testers are guided step-by-step through test plans and can view the test status at any stage of the testing. You can test .MSIs, .EXEs that were compiled from .MSIs, and groups of packages from the Wise Software Repository.

When you run an installation test, you can install the package into a virtual software layer. After you finish testing the package, you can delete or deactivate the virtual software layer, which restores the computer to its original state.

Resolving File and Registry Conflicts

ConflictManager® helps you solve the problems of conflicting files and registry entries that often occur on end user computers when multiple applications are installed, letting you avoid crashes and other problems when deploying packages throughout your organization.

Use ConflictManager to detect and resolve conflicts between packages in the Software Manager database. You can use conflict resolution rules to resolve conflicts automatically, or review and resolve file conflicts one at a time. After conflicts are resolved, you export and recompile resolved installations.

Testing in a Production Environment

Preflight Deployment™ consists of several tools that help you determine if an installation or patch will succeed or fail by testing it in your production environment before it is distributed. With Preflight Deployment, you can determine why installations or patches fail on specific computers without disrupting end users or endangering your production environment. You also can identify potential problems that are related to the first use of an application (example: insufficient security privileges).

Use the Preflight Instrumentation tool to generate a preflight package based on a package that you plan to deploy. Deploy the preflight package using your normal deployment method. When the preflight package runs, it simulates the installation without actually making any changes on the target computers, then sends the results to a Web server. Use the Preflight Analysis Web application to view results.

Application Integration: Release Management

Automating the Delivery and Management of Packages

When you use Wise Package Studio with other Altiris tools, you can automate the distribution process. See Integration of Wise Package Studio With Other Altiris Tools.

Distributing With Package Distribution

Use Package Distribution to deploy or share a package by:

  • Passing a package's .MSI file to a distribution system
  • Copying a package to the share point directory or an FTP server
  • Copying a compiled installation or a project and its associated files to a network directory
  • Creating a Windows Installer administrative installation
Patch Creation

Wise Package Studio helps you prepare patches for error-free deployments.

Creating Patches

Wise Package Studio provides the following tools for creating patches:

  • UpgradeSync
    Using UpgradeSync is one of the steps in preparing software for updates. UpgradeSync compares the current Windows Installer package with the previous version of the package, and prepares the current package for a patch or upgrade.
    UpgradeSync eliminates the most commonly encountered problems that cause patches and upgrades to fail. Use UpgradeSync before you create a patch or an upgrade.
  • Patch Creation
    Use Patch Creation to create a Windows Installer patch file (.MSP) that updates installed versions of a Windows Installer-based application. A patch file can update one or several previous versions. Unlike full installations, a patch installation contains only the information necessary to update an installed version of the application.
    Patch Creation creates patches for Windows Installer packages only. To create patches for WiseScript packages, use the SmartPatch™ feature in WiseScript Package Editor.

Testing Patches

Use Wise Package Studio to test patches that you create and that you receive from vendors.

  • ConflictManager
    Use ConflictManager to detect and resolve conflicts between patches and other packages in the Software Manager database.
  • Impact Assessment
    Use this Software Manager feature to quickly assess the potential impact of installing a hotfix or security patch without taking the time to perform extensive testing. Do this by viewing the existing packages that have dependencies on files that are updated by that patch. Then you can decide whether to deploy the patch immediately or wait until you can perform further testing.
    When you import a package into the Software Manager database, executable files (.EXE, .DLL, and .OCX) within the package are scanned for dependencies on files that are outside the package. Impact Assessment uses this information to help you find problems that might occur if you install a patch that updates the dependency files.
  • Risk Assessment
    Use this Software Manager feature to determine which isolated files in a Windows Installer package are at risk of being missed by an update or patch. Then, it can create a WiseScript-based .EXE that updates the isolated file with the version from the patch.
Virtual Package Creation

Altiris® Software Virtualization Solution™ (SVS) is a revolutionary approach to software management. By placing applications and data into managed units called virtual software packages, Software Virtualization Solution lets you instantly activate, deactivate, or reset applications and avoid conflicts between applications without altering the base installation.

Wise Package Studio supports the creation, editing, and management of virtual software packages in the following formats:

  • Virtual software layer
  • Virtual software archive file (.VSA), which is a portable version of a virtual software layer
  • Virtual software project file (.WVP), which is a project file that you compile to create a .VSA file

Creating Virtual Software Packages

In Wise Package Studio, you can create a virtual software package in the following ways:

  • In Software Manager, you can enable .MSI and .WSI (Windows Installer project) packages and certain other packages for SVS. This places the package in a WiseScript .EXE wrapper. When an "enabled package" .EXE is installed on a target computer on which the Software Virtualization Agent is present, the enabled package can create a virtual software layer, install the package into the layer, and save and activate the layer.
  • You can capture an application into a virtual software package. In Workbench, you can use SetupCapture to run an installation and capture the output as a .WVP file. In Virtual Package Editor, when you create an application layer, you have the option to use SetupCapture to capture the application as a layer or a .WVP file.
  • In Virtual Package Editor, you can create and edit a virtual software package as virtual software layer or as a .WVP file. As with other Wise editors, you use Installation Expert to specify the virtual package's resources and parameters. When you work in a .WVP file, you can add WiseScripts to the package to enhance its functionality.

Distribution and Management of Virtual Software Packages

After you create a virtual software package, you can use Package Distribution to distribute it to a network directory or an FTP server. You also can import .WVP and .VSA files into the Software Manager database for purposes of impact and risk assessment.

Linux Package Creation

Many system administrators in a primarily Windows environment must also support Linux computers, typically servers. Supporting installations on Linux computers presents some of the same consistency, standardization, and customization challenges as on Windows computers.

Wise Package Studio contains Linux Package Editor, a tool that lets you use a Windows computer to create packages that install software on computers that run Linux Red Hat.

Using an interface that is similar to that in other Wise editors, you can easily create Linux packages without having an in-depth knowledge of Linux commands.

Creating and Editing Linux Packages

With Linux Package Editor, you can either import an RPM file or Linux archive file, or build an RPM from binary application files. Then you can edit the installation and add scripts to provide additional functionality during the RPM installation.

When you compile the Linux project, Linux Package Editor creates the RPM file and embeds it into a shell file (.SH), which acts as a "wrapper" to the RPM and contains any additional scripts that you have written.

Testing Linux Packages

Linux Package Editor's preflight capability helps you determine whether a package will succeed or fail by testing it in your production environment before deployment. Linux preflight packages can perform environmental checks without actually distributing the package payload to the Linux computer.

A preflight package:

  • Runs the RPM in test mode. This performs all the checks that RPM normally performs during installation, but it does not install the package.
  • Runs the preflight script, if included. You can write this script to perform additional environment checks. Examples: get additional system information, find files.
  • Writes a log file on the Linux computer and posts the log file to a URL that you specify. You can view this log in Linux Package Editor.
Windows Mobile Package Creation

Mobile Device Package Editor is an installation development tool that lets you create one or more .CAB files that install a mobile device application. It supports the Microsoft Windows Mobile platform for Pocket PC and Smartphone devices.

As with other Wise editors, you use Installation Expert to specify the installation's resources and parameters. These installation options generate the project file in .INF format, which is used to compile the installation .CAB files.

For advanced customization, you can edit the .INF directly within the Mobile Device Package Editor. Changes that you make in Installation Expert are automatically reflected in the .INF file, and vice versa.

You can open an .INF file from any vendor or other third party in the Mobile Device Package Editor and compile it to a .CAB. You also can open a Pocket PC .CAB to edit and recompile it.

Use of WiseScripts in Wise Package Studio

WiseScript is a high-level scripting language that consolidates dozens or hundreds of lines of code into predefined script actions. The WiseScript Editor in Wise Package Studio supports a point-and-click method of scripting. The script author is prompted for the parameters needed by each script action, so a script can be created and tested very quickly. The script is displayed in clear, English-like statements. For those who need additional flexibility and control, WiseScript provides advanced features (examples: IF and WHILE loops, UI dialogs).

In Wise Package Studio, you use WiseScripts to:

  • Add WiseScripts to custom actions in Windows Installer installations. This lets you extend the capabilities of Windows Installer installations and simplify installation tasks, such as parsing or arithmetic functions, that are difficult to accomplish with Windows Installer.
  • Add functionality to a virtual software package. Examples: Set configuration options that are user-specific, display an end-user license agreement, or evaluate the destination computer's operating system and install .DLL files specific to that operating system.
  • Perform general administrative tasks that help you manage your applications and devices.
    • Set the value of a registry key.
    • Free disk space by emptying a user's temp directories and recycle bin.
    • Determine whether the logged-on user has administrative rights to the computer.
    • Find the size of a particular directory.
    • Disable the user's ability to install applications using removable media.
    • Manage and update virtual software layers.
Integration of Wise Package Studio With Other Altiris Tools

The Wise Integration Component integrates the data in the Software Manager database with other Altiris tools.

Import Packages into the Notification Server for Deployment

Use the Wise Integration Component to automate the import of packages from the Software Manager database into the Altiris® Notification Server™ database. Then you can use the Altiris® Software Delivery Solution™ to deploy it just as you deploy any other package, by creating Software Delivery tasks for each package you want to deploy.

The package is not imported, just information about the package. During deployment, the package is obtained directly from the Software Manager database.

Import Packages into the Software Manager Database

Use the Wise Integration Component to automate the import of Software Delivery Solution packages into the Software Manager database so that you can manage all your packages from a centralized location and include them in conflict management.

Import Patches into the Software Manager Database

Use the Wise Integration Component to automate the import of Altiris® Patch Management Solution™ patches into the Software Manager database so that you can use Wise Package Studio to manage and test the patches by performing impact and risk assessment.

Manage the State of Packages

Altiris® Application Management Solution™ provides software state management tools to maintain the desired state of packages on collections of computers. It does this by using tasks that contain rules that selectively evaluate whether a package is installed properly. Then, if the rule fails, which means the evidence of proper installation is not found, Application Management can perform remediation by running the Software Delivery task to re-install the application. You can create tasks that evaluate and remediate a single package or a collection of packages.

The Wise Integration Component automates the creation of these tasks for any package in the Software Manager database whose resources are defined and whose status is set to Available. You can also dynamically link the rules in the tasks with managed packages so that the tasks update automatically when the resources in the packages change.

For details, refer to Knowledgebase article 26048.

Perform a Wise Inventory

Use the Wise Integration Component with Altiris® Inventory Solution® software to perform a Wise inventory on Altiris-enabled computers. The Wise inventory gathers information about the .MSI packages found on these computers, including whether the .MSI packages are in the Software Manager database. Packages that are installed from the Software Manager database are the approved versions. Packages that are not in the Software Manager database might have been installed from an unauthorized source.

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shri4nath's picture

Please tell me about the -"Add/Update Resources in Existing Installation " in the setupcapture, as am finding it difficult to spot what and which kind of resources are updated here..

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sudheer kothapally's picture


Can i know  what custom action we will use for calling files that are to be included in New MSI for patch creation?

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