This is izfree version 1.1, a collection of free tools for authoring
.MSI installation packages.
izfree is designed for use in conjunction with
the Orca database editor included in the Microsoft Platform SDK.
izfree automates some tasks specific to the authoring of MSI installation database files with Orca. Orca provides a basic way to edit database tables, but doesn't create them automatically. izfree automates the following tasks:
izfree assumes that you are already familiar with Windows Installer, although version 1.1 makes it possible to create simple installations that install files and register COM objects with little or no knowledge of Windows Installer. Still, the MSI SDK documentation. Will likely prove invaluable for anything beyond the tasks automated by izfree or for debugging problems with your installation package.
If you are a Visual Studio user and are completely new to Windows Installer, you might want to start with Visual Studio Installer and experiment with creating some simple installations and examining the resulting msi with Orca.
Download the izfree 1.1 release in zip form
The 1.1 release of izfree. Download the ZIP file and unpack
it to a temporary directory. Then invoke
install izfree onto your machine. After installing izfree, you may
remove the unpacked contents of the zip file. You must already have
Windows Installer installed on your machine in order to use izfree.
You can log bug reports, feature requests or participate in the development of izfree through the sourceforge.net project page.
When you consider the varied needs of install programs and the method by which they interact with the system to perform updates, you can easily imagine that a complete specifications of the actions of install programs covers quite a bit of territory. What follows in this section is a summary of Windows Installer. For more information see the MSI SDK documentation.
Windows Installer is a system component provided by Microsoft to address the problem of 'DLL Hell' and poor installation programs. Windows Installer is available as a free redistributable for Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows NT 4.0. Windows Installer is included in Windows Me, Windows 2000 and Windows XP.
Use of Windows Installer is required for Windows 2000 logo certification and will continue to be a standard installation technology for Microsoft platforms with XP, .NET and beyond.
Windows Installer uses a database of information about the
application to be installed to determine what resources to install from
source media onto the target machine. Resources may be files, fonts,
registry entries, COM servers, NT services, and any other piece of
data that is required by your application. The database is stored
in a file with the extension '
The database organizes the resources of an application into componentsand features. Components represent the smallest unit of resources thatcan be individually installed on the target machine. Components are groupedinto features to provide the functionality of an application.
Windows Installer caches the database onto the target machine when a product is installed. The cached database can be used to perform repair operations in case of accidental deletion or corruption of resources. The cached database is also used to remove the application completely, or to install or remove specific features provided by the application.
Converts your MSI database into an XML text representation that is perfect for source code control systems as you revise your MSI over time.
A free add-on for Microsoft Visual Studio users. It provides a GUI environment for editing a simple installation containing files, COM objects, registry entries, etc. It does not expose the more powerful features of Windows Installer technology such as custom actions, custom dialogs, Win32 service control and installation. This is a good free tool provided you already own Studio and your installation needs are simply copying files, modifying the registry and registration of COM objects.
After release 1.2 of Windows Installer, it was packaged with the Platform SDK. As new releases of the Platform SDK are issued, new versions of Windows Installer are released. As of December, 2001 the Platform SDK included version 2.0 of Windows Installer. The Platform SDK documentation describes the additional features included in successive versions of Windows Installer.
The Platform SDK installs Orca.msi as with the version 1.2 of the MSI SDK. Use Orca.msi to install the Orca database editor.
After downloading and installing the SDK, install Orca.msi to get the Orca database editor. Orca.msi is located in the '%MSSDK%\bin' directory after you install the Platform SDK.
Merge modules for libraries provided with Visual Studio 6.0 Service Pack 4. If your code depends on these libraries, such as comdlg32.ocx or oleaut32.dll, then you should use the merge modules to ensure that the proper versions of these components are installed for use with your application.
Obtain version 2.0 of the Windows Installer system component. Windows XP ships with version 2.0 of Windows Installer; it is a free download for other versions of Windows.
The Cabinet SDK gives you documentation on the cabinet file format and associated tools for manipulating cabinet files (makecab, cabarc, etc.).
Windows Installer uses cabinet files for compressed storage and for web based installations. Windows Installer imposes sequence requirements relating the File table entries to the order of files in a cabinet file. The Cabinet SDK contains documentation describing how to construct cabinet files to match the Windows Installer constraints.
WiMakCab.vbs script in the MSI SDK builds a
cabinet file using
MAKECAB.EXE, which it assumes will be
somewhere in your path. If you don't have this tool, you can get it
by installing the Cabinet SDK.
Search using the keywords '
kbMSI' and '
to search for Windows Installer and Visual Studio Installer related
A wide variety of resources for Windows Installer are available at this web site.