MSI Package Builder

Overview

Create MSI Packages and Convert EXE to MSI With No Hassle

An innovative installation editor designed for an effortless creation of MSI packages. It helps you create MSI packages automatically by using the changes tracking technology, or manually by using the visual editor. The application can be used to repackage legacy installations and convert EXE to MSI files in order to customize installers and prepare them for a silent remote deployment. Thus created packages can be deployed through Group Policy or EMCO Remote Installer.

EMCO MSI Package Builder is an installation authoring tool designed to help administrators to create, maintain and distribute Windows Installer packages. It can be used to create MSI packages easily, to modify existing installations and to repackage setups from the EXE to MSI format. The application is available in the following editions:

  • Professional Edition includes a visual editor and a changes monitor. It can be used to create MSI packages manually by means of the editor or automatically with the help of the changes monitor. It allows EXE to MSI repackaging and modifying existing installations. The visual MSI editor that can be used to build MSI packages easily.
  • Enterprise Edition is an advanced builder and repackager that can be used to create MSI packages and convert complex installations into the MSI format. Its changes monitor can track service installations and environment variables changes. It can repackage installations also using the installation wrapping method.

 

EMCO MSI Package Builder: How to Create an MSI Package?

How to make MSI packages and what are the advantages of using EMCO MSI Package Builder? The application simplifies installation authoring by making use of the visual editor and changes tracking technology, which is used to generate installation project data. To create an MSI, you can certainly follow the traditional way and specify the installation resources and actions through the visual editor, but it is more efficient to use the Live Monitoring technology. When monitoring is enabled, the application detects the file system and registry changes undertaken on a PC and uses them to build an MSI. You can make the required changes manually to get an installation that will reproduce them or monitor actions of the existing installations in order to convert them from the EXE to MSI format.

Create MSI Automatically

The innovative Live Monitoring technology saves you the complexity of manual MSI building. Create an MSI using a truly visual approach by performing the required installation actions on your PC. MSI Package Builder will track your changes and make an MSI file for you automatically. You can modify the installation by using the visual editor.

Convert EXE to MSI

An easy EXE to MSI repackaging helps you to convert legacy EXE setups that require interactive installation into the MSI format to prepare them for a silent remote deployment. It's possible to create an MSI from an EXE file in a fully automatic mode using the Live Monitoring technology, which is the most advanced technology available today.

Customize Existing Installations

Modification of third-party installations becomes possible with MSI Package Builder. Change existing installations to meet your needs by repackaging them into MSI packages and use the visual editor to apply changes. Combine installs into one MSI package and apply custom pre- and post-installation changes with only a few clicks.

Build MSI for Remote Installation

Get ready for a remote deployment by creating silent MSI packages. All produced setup files can be deployed onto remote PCs within a LAN by using Group Policy (GPO) or EMCO Remote Installer. All installations have preconfigured settings and can be deployed locally or remotely in a silent mode with no user interaction.

Advantages and Benefits

Following is a list of top advantages and unique features that distinguish the product among others on the market. Take a look how you can use product features in your day-to-day work and what benefits you can get from it.

 

Distribute and Deploy Software and Updates Remotely

We all live in the world where everything is changing fast; especially it applies to software applications. Every organization has tens or even hundreds applications that should be installed, re-installed or updated often. Number of used applications and required updates continuously grows together with the efforts required for software maintenance and the budget for this task. EMCO MSI Package Builder was a specially designed to save your efforts and costs each time when you install or update applications. It allows you to make these actions remotely by preparing new or converting existing installations to MSI packages, ready for silent remote deployment through Group Policy or EMCO Remote Installer. Thus you can make mass remote deployment instead installing software manually each time.

 

Convert Existing Installations into MSI Packages for Remote Deployment

Remote installation tools, such as Group Policy or EMCO Remote Installer, have a specific requirements for installations that can be deployed remotely. Such installations should work in the silent mode, i.e. without any interaction with user. Most installations aren't able to work in the silent mode, but EMCO MSI Package Builder can repackage them to produce a silent MSIs, ready for remote deployment. Repackaging procedure can be applied for various installations - EXE, MSI, BAT, etc. and doesn't require any specific actions - you just need to activate monitoring mechanism that will track all installation actions and follow installation procedure using installation wizard. When installation will be completed, you need to stop monitoring mechanism and can generate MSI.

 

Use Most Advanced Technology for Installations Repackaging

EMCO MSI Package Builder is known as the most advanced installation repacking tool on the market, because of applying an innovative 'Live Monitoring' technology. Unlike snapshots comparing technology, used in other repackaging tools, 'Live Monitoring' technology doesn't create any snapshots, but, instead, integrates with operating system to track changes on fly. As the result, you always have monitoring results immediately after stopping of monitoring and you don't need to store large snapshots and wait a long time for their comparison. And, what is the most important; for MSI generation you always use only changes performed by monitored installation, but not changes performed by other processes working in background. With the snapshots comparing technology, it's impossible to get changes only for particular repackaged installation and filter out the rest of changes.

 

Customize Existing Installations

When you make installation repackaging using EMCO MSI Package Builder, you have an access to the content of produced MSI package and can change it, if required. It is very helpful when you need to customize or extend the original installation. For example, you can change installation folder, add a shortcut to the desktop, add additional files or, even, modify files and other resources that are a part of the original installation.

 

Transform Any Activity into MSI Package

EMCO MSI Package Builder offers a brand new, visual way for installations building. Using it, even non-IT people can create MSI packages. Instead of creation installation model with set of installation resources and actions manually, you can rely on 'Live Monitoring' that will create it automatically for you. All what you need to do - just to activate monitoring and perform required actions in Windows Explorer, Regedit and other tools. All your actions will be automatically tracked and transformed to installation model used to generate MSI that will do same actions in scope of installation.

 

Build Your First MSI in Less Than 10 Minutes

Traditionally, installation tools are associated with toys for IT geeks, who like to write a complicated installation scripts. But EMCO MSI Package Builder is able to change such opinion. Really, EMCO MSI Package Builder displays installation model on the screen in a clear visual form and allows changing it through an intuitive visual editor. You don't need to write any scripts to get installation to work. This concept was successfully proven on practice, because less than 10 minutes is required for the first touch with the interface to start creating MSI packages.

Feature List

 MSI Creation Approach

Professional Edition

Enterprise Edition

Manual Creation Using Visual Editor         
MSI package can be generated from manually created installation project. In this case all installation resources together with their installation actions are manually defined using a special visual editor.
   
Automatic Creation Based on Monitoring Results         
Unique 'Live Monitoring' technology can be used to track all changes on file system and registry. These changes are transformed to installation project and used for automatic MSI package generation.
   
Installations Wrapping         
Wrap existing one or multiple silent installations in a single MSI package that installs included installations silently. You have to specify silent keys for every included installation.
   
Automatic Creation Based on MSI Decompilation         
Existing MSI package can be decompiled and changed to produce new customized installation.

 

 Supported Installation Resources

Professional Edition

Enterprise Edition

Files and Folders         
Create or delete folder. Create, delete or modify file. Update file content.
   
System Folders         
Installation paths to file system resources can be defined using special system folders that are converted to OS-specific values during installation. It guarantees resources installation to right system directories, for example to the Program Files, regardless of their different locations or names on different platforms.
   
Registry Keys and Values         
Create or delete registry key. Create, delete or modify String, Binary, DWORD, Multi-String and Expandable String registry value.
   
Environment Variables         
Create or delete user or system environment variable.
   
Shortcuts         
Create shortcut. Configure shortcut name, target, start folder, run parameters, start arguments and comment.
   
Services         
Create, delete or manage service. Set or change service state, start options, arguments, execution account and dependencies.
   

 

Resource Management Options

Professional Edition

Enterprise Edition

File Attributes Management         
Set or modify Read Only, Hidden, System and Compressed file attributes.
   
Permanence Option for Files         
Set a special option to prevent file deletion on uninstall.
   
Update Options for Registry Values         
Update existing String, Multi-String and Expandable String registry values to replace existing content or append/prepend new content to existing.
   
Permanence Option for Registry Keys and Values         
Set a special option to prevent registry key or value deletion on uninstall.
   
Conditional Creation and Deletion of Environment Variables         
Create environment variable only if it doesn't exist. Delete environment variable if its value is equal to configured parameter.
   
Update Options for Environment Variables         
Update existing environment variable to replace existing content or append/prepend new content to existing.
   

 

What's New

Version 5.0.2 (February 24, 2014)

 

New and improved features

The below features have been introduced for the first time or significantly improved in this release:

  • Added an option to suppress the software installed via wrapped packages from being displayed in the Programs and Features section of the Windows Control Panel

Resolved issues

This release resolves a number of issues, the most important of which are listed below:

  • Change type is not displayed for registry keys in monitoring results
  • The MSI packages created via existing packages decompilation may be installed with errors
  • Possible errors when closing the application

 

Version 5.0.1 (January 31, 2014)

 

New and improved features

The below features have been introduced for the first time or significantly improved in this release:

  • An option was added to specify any command line to uninstall and/or repair an executable package wrapped into the generated MSI package
  • The range of property definition placeholders used for wrapped package parameters configuration was extended

Resolved issues

This release resolves a number of issues, the most important of which are listed below:

  • The predefined monitoring filters are corrected
  • Installation completion is not detected correctly if the monitored installation launches more than 64 processes
  • Some executable installations cannot be repackaged using wrapping
  • Packages with external files cannot be repaired and uninstalled together with the generated package when wrapped into an x64 MSI

 

Version 5.0 (January 22, 2014)

 

Brand-new user interface   

The application interface is completely reworked. The new UI has a modern Ribbon-based look and has been designed to simplify repackaging, MSI configuration and generation tasks. It features the following improvements:

  • The starting Welcome page with the list of main actions, help resources and recently opened projects
  • New data editors with the options to sort and filter the displayed data
  • New data management dialogs with extended options
  • Improved wizards designed to simplify the main operations

 

Brand-new monitoring system with Intellectual Assistant

The Live Monitoring technology that tracks file system and registry changes has been significantly improved. The new monitoring system increases the repackaging success rate by 25% according to tests. The new system includes Intellectual Assistant that checks capturing results for problems and shows suggestions how to resolve them.

 

New repackaging method: installation wrapping

The new installation repackaging method allows wrapping one or multiple original installations into a single MSI package. It can be used if the original installations support silent deployment.

When adding a new original installation, you need to specify the location of the installation file and the command-line parameters used for installation in the silent mode. When the generated MSI package is installed, it runs the included original installations with specified silent deployment options to install them silently. The installations are deployed one-by-one according to the order you defined.

 

Extended and reorganized MSI generation options

The application allows you to create upgradable MSI packages using the improved upgrade options, which are represented in the MSI generation dialog. Using them, you can enable or disable upgrades and protect the MSI from downgrading. Also, during MSI generation, you can select the supported OS where the generated MSI package can be installed. The list of available OS includes the latest Windows versions, including Windows 8.1 and Windows 2012 R2.

 

The automated monitoring mode

This new feature is designed to simplify the repackaging process and improve the repackaging success rate. If you select the Automated Monitoring option in the Repackage Installation wizard, the application automatically stops installation monitoring and generates an MSI at the right time when the monitored installation and all related processes have been completed. It guarantees that the monitoring results include all required changes.

 

 

Multi-installation repackaging   

You can repackage multiple installations into a single MSI package. This function is supported by both the monitoring and wrapping repackaging modes. You can specify multiple installations to be repackaged in the required order. In the monitoring mode, the specified installations are executed one-by-one and an MSI package is generated based on the monitoring results. In the wrapping mode, the specified installations are deployed silently when the MSI containing the installations is deployed.

 

Using MSI properties in project entries   

If required, you can use the standard MSI properties in the file system and registry entries of MSI projects. For example, if a registry key includes the path to a file in a system folder, this path can be different on different OS, so if you specify just the path, the generated MSI can work incorrectly on other OS. In such cases, you can use MSI properties that refer to the standard system folder locations and are converted to the correct path during the MSI deployment.

 

New installation repackaging wizard   

The new repackaging wizard is designed to help you repackage installations quickly and easily. It consists of just a few steps required to select the repackaged application and specify the repackaging options. The wizard guides you through the repackaging process, and you can find detailed on-screen instructions for every step. Also, the wizard includes recommendations for creating a repackaging environment and provides you with information on the repackaging best practices.

 

New and improved features   

The below features have been introduced for the first time or significantly improved in this release:

  • Added options to suggest a feature and to report a problem directly from the application
  • Improved logging and reworked error messages to provide more detailed info for troubleshooting

Getting Started

This tutorial is intended for first-time users of EMCO MSI Package Builder. It gives you a quick overview of the main features of the application and demonstrates MSI creation and installation repackaging procedures. By reading this tutorial, you will get familiar with the application and its features to be able to create MSI packages according to your needs.

Introduction

EMCO MSI Package Builder is an MSI authoring tool that allows creating MSI packages ready for silent unattended deployment. Using this tool, you can convert existing non-silent installations into silent MSI packages and create new MSI packages according to your needs. MSI packages generated by EMCO MSI Package Builder are ready for silent deployment. It means that such packages can be installed automatically without selecting installation options; hence they can be easily deployed remotely on multiple PCs across a network using remote software deployment tools, such as EMCO Remote Installer or Microsoft SCCM.

EMCO MSI Package Builder is designed to simplify MSI creation and installation repackaging by automating these procedures. The application offers automatic installation repackaging, so you can get a silent MSI package for a non-silent installation in just a few mouse clicks, as demonstrated in this tutorial. EMCO MSI Package Builder doesn't require expert knowledge in MSI or in installation scripting to be able to successfully repackage installations and create MSI packages. You only need to understand the MSI creation approaches offered by the application and follow the on-screen instructions to create MSI packages quickly and easily.
This tutorial demonstrates the features of EMCO MSI Package Builder Enterprise edition. If you would like to follow the step-by-step instructions provided here, please make sure that you have downloaded and installed the right edition of the application. Otherwise, you will notice that some features are missing and not all options in the user interface are available.

Understanding MSI Creation Approaches

EMCO MSI Package Builder is designed to create MSI packages that function as installation files for Windows. As installation files, MSI packages can perform various changes during installation: adding, modifying and deleting files and registry keys, creating and deleting folders and shortcuts, modifying Windows services and environmental variables, etc. When creating an installation, you need to configure those changes in the installation project before you can generate an installation file applying the changes. Creating an installation project may take a lot of time if you follow the traditional approach and configure the changes manually through editors, but EMCO MSI Package Builder can automate this process and get the required MSI package within seconds.

EMCO MSI Package Builder offers a unique monitoring feature that allows tracking file system and registry changes performed on a PC to automatically create an MSI project containing the detected changes. This feature allows you to repackage non-silent installations into silent MSI packages and to create custom MSI package by capturing low-level changes and generating an MSI applying the captured results. Once an MSI project is created, you can modify it through visual editors, if required, or just generate an MSI package using the project data. The monitoring feature allows you to automate the creation of MSI projects, but, if you prefer, you can create an MSI project manually through editors and control all the installation changes.

Depending on the purpose for which MSI package is being created, you can use one of the following approaches to create an installation project and generate an MSI package.

1. Repackaging a non-silent installation into a silent MSI package
You can use this approach if you need to deploy a non-silent installation remotely over a network. Remote deployment requires a silent installation, so you can use EMCO MSI Package Builder to convert a non-silent installation into a silent MSI package. For installation repackaging, you should start changes monitoring and follow the steps of the original installation. The applied file system and registry changes are captured by EMCO MSI Package Builder, and you get an MSI package created from the capturing results. Installation of the generated MSI package, which can be deployed silently, is identical to the manual deployment of the original installation file.

2. Wrapping a silent installation into an MSI package
You can use this approach if you need to get an MSI package that deploys one or multiple silent installations. In this case, you just wrap original installation(s) in an MSI package. To generate an MSI that should be installed silently, you need to specify the commands to run the included installations in the silent mode. When you deploy the generated MSI, it deploys the included installations silently, as defined by you.

3. Automatic creation of a custom MSI package using monitoring
You can use this approach if you need to create a custom MSI package quickly and easily without configuring the installation project. In this case, you need to enable monitoring in EMCO MSI Package Builder and apply the required changes, for example, installing a font on a computer using standard Windows features. The underlying file system and registry changes are captured by EMCO MSI Package Builder, and you get an MSI package reproducing the captured changes.

4. Manual creation of a custom MSI package
You can use this approach if you know the changes you need to apply during installation. In this case, you can use visual editors to configure the installation project and then generate an MSI package that includes the configured changes.

 

The Application Interface Overview

EMCO MSI Package Builder is a system application that needs to track file system and registry changes in the monitoring mode, so you need to have administrative permissions in Windows to run it. When you run the application on Windows Vista or a later OS, you need to allow the application to apply system changes in the User Account Control (UAC) prompt. If you use the evaluation version of the application, you need to press the Evaluate link to close the Welcome dialog, which appears at startup.

The application has a modern Ribbon-based interface [picture 1] : the Ribbon is available at the top of the main screen [A]. It consists of three main tabs with items and can also display additional contextual tabs highlighted on the Ribbon when you use some of the available views and editors.
      

Pic 1. The main application window
    

Under the Ribbon, on the left side of the screen, you can find the Projects view [B]. This view displays one or multiple installation projects that are currently opened in the application. An installation project includes one or multiple packages also displayed in the Projects view under the project node. A package is used to define a set of file system, registry and other changes, while a project is used to group packages and define general installation settings. For a project you can define the project settings, pre- and post-actions, and wrapping settings using the corresponding tabs [C].

On the right side of the Projects view, you can see the main area, which shows different views depending on your current selection [picture 2]. If there are no projects opened, you can see the Welcome screen there with a set of available actions. If a project is selected in the Projects view, you can see tabs in the main area where you can define the project settings, pre- and post-actions, and wrapping settings. If you select a package in the Projects view, you can edit its content in the main area using the File System, Registry, Environment Variables and Services tabs [D].
      

Pic 2. The project and package editors
    

At the bottom of the main screen, you can find the Application Log and Operation Management tabs [E]. The Application Log view can be used to see all the events and error messages reported by the application. The Operation Management view can be used to manage the running operations.

To configure the application settings, you can open the Preferences dialog by selecting the corresponding option under the Application menu. The Preferences dialog allows you to configure the monitoring filters and other settings in the application.

 

Example 1 - Repackaging a Non-Silent Installation into an MSI Package Using Monitoring

Repackaging of existing non-silent installations into silent MSI packages is one of the main features of EMCO MSI Package Builder, so let's see how to use it. Let's assume we need to distribute Adobe Reader across our entire network. When you run an Adobe Reader installation, it requires that you select installation options, so you cannot use the original installation for remote deployment because it isn't silent. To prepare the installation for remote deployment, we can repackage it into a silent MSI package using EMCO MSI Package Builder.

Configuring repackaging environment and understanding the repackaging best-practices

The installation repackaging process is based on monitoring file system and registry changes performed by the monitored installation. Depending on the computer state before and during the repackaging process, you may obtain correct or incorrect repackaging results. We recommend that you use a special repackaging environment and follow the repackaging best practices explained below to achieve correct repackaging results.

It's recommended to perform repackaging on a clean environment where only the OS and EMCO MSI Package Builder are installed. For your convenience, you may create a virtual machine (VM) for repackaging, and after installing the OS and EMCO MSI Package Builder, create a snapshot with a clean VM configuration. Every time before repackaging an installation, you need to roll back the VM to the snapshot in order to use a clean repackaging environment. This approach guarantees that you follow most of the repackaging best practices. A complete list of the general repackaging best practices is introduced below.

  1. Repackage an installation on the same platform (x86 or x64) or, preferably, on the same OS that will be used for deployment of the generated MSI. If you need to deploy an installation on both the x86 and x64 platforms, you need to create two MSI packages for these platforms.
  2. If you have security or anti-virus software installed, you need to disable it, because it might cause unstable or incorrect operation of the monitoring.
  3. If an installation you need to repackage is already installed, uninstall it with all its components and dependencies.
  4. Close all running applications and processes except for EMCO MSI Package Builder, because they can produce unwanted changes that will be captured.
  5. If monitored installation requires a reboot, you need to stop monitoring and generate an MSI before rebooting.
  6. Some complex installations that install drivers or apply Windows system changes cannot be repackaged successfully because of the Windows security limitations. In this case, you will be warned by EMCO MSI Package Builder and can use wrapping instead of monitoring to repackage such installations.

 

Repackaging an installation

Once you have created a clean repackaging environment by following the provided recommendations, you can run EMCO MSI Package Builder and start the repackaging process.

Step 1. Open the Repackage Installation Wizard

The Repackage Installation Wizard is automatically opened when you start the application. If you don't see it on the screen, press the Repackage Installation button on the Home tab in the Ribbon. When the wizard is started, read the welcome information and press the Next button.

Step 2. Select the monitoring option

The wizard allows you to repackage an installation using either monitoring or wrapping. We are going to use monitoring, so select the Monitor Installation option [picture 3] and press the Next button. In the next step, you can see information on the repackaging best practices. Read it carefully and press the Next button. Finally, you need to select the monitoring mode to be used. Select the Automated Monitoring option [picture 4]. In this case, the application will automatically stop monitoring and generate an MSI once the monitored installation is completed. Press the Next button to proceed to the next step.

Step 3. Select the installation file

In this step, we need to specify the path to the original installation file to be monitored. Select the path to the downloaded Adobe Reader installation. Once the path to the installation file is specified, you are prompted to enter the installation parameters [picture 5]. The parameters are optional and should be specified only if you need to run the monitored installation in a special way. In our case, we can leave the parameters empty and press the OK button to confirm the installation configuration. As you can see, the wizard allows you to specify multiple installations to be monitored one by one [picture 6]. We need to create an MSI for the Adobe Reader installation only, so we can press the Next button.
      

Pic 3. Selecting the repackaging options
          

Pic 4. Selecting the monitoring mode
    
      
Pic 5. Specifying the installation settings
          

Pic 6. Configuring installations for monitoring
    

Step 4. Specify the MSI properties

Now, you need to specify the path to the MSI package to be generated. Also, you need to enter the manufacturer info. If you wish, you can change the product name that will be displayed in Windows Programs and Features after installation, the installation icon, the version number and other properties available in the dialog [picture 7]. Note that if you use the evaluation version of the application, the installed MSI will be displayed in Windows Programs and Features with the evaluation mark. Once you have specified the required settings in the dialog, you may press the Next button.

Step 5. Filter out the running applications/processes

When monitoring is started, the application will be capturing all file system and registry changes. Since multiple applications/processes may be running at the same time under Windows, the changes applied by all running Windows processes will be captured. If you have other applications/processes running during repackaging, they may create unwanted changes that will appear in the capturing results and in the generated MSI package, so it's recommended to filter them out. If you use a clean environment for repackaging, the wizard will be displaying an empty list of running applications. In case the list is non-empty but the running applications do not relate to the installation to be monitored, select them to filter the changes made by them out of the monitoring results [picture 8]. Once you have finished the filters configuration, press the Finish button to start monitoring.
      

Pic 7. Specifying the MSI generation options
          

Pic 8. Filtering the running applications out
    

Step 6. Follow the installation steps

As you can see, the wizard has been closed and the specified original installation has been started. It means that the monitoring is in progress now, and you need to follow the steps of the original installation. You can select the required installation options and, as the result, the original installation will create corresponding files and registry keys that are monitored by the application. Once the installation is completed, the application will automatically stop monitoring and generate an MSI package. Note that if the installation prompts you to run the installed application, you should skip this step to let EMCO MSI Package Builder detect that the installation has been completed. If the application starts automatically after the installation, just close it to notify EMCO MSI Package Builder about the end of the installation process.

Step 7. Getting the generated MSI package

Once the installation is completed, you can return to EMCO MSI Package Builder that should automatically start generating an MSI package using the capturing results. Depending on the captured data size, the generation process may take some time. Once the generation is completed, you can see the generated MSI package in Windows Explorer. If you use the evaluation version of the application, the generated MSI package has an expiration time and can work during 30 days only.

Reviewing the monitoring results and customizing the installation

When the repackaging process has been finished and you have obtained an MSI package, you will notice that the main application screen has been changed. In the Projects view, you can find the new project with one or multiple packages under it. If you select the project node, you can see the properties you specified in the repackaging wizard on the right side of the screen on the Project Details tab [picture 9]. If you need to re-generate an MSI, you can just press the Create MSI Package button on the Home tab of the Ribbon, and there is no need for you to follow the repackaging steps again. Moreover, now you can change the installation project to customize it according to your needs.

You may wonder where you can see the captured changes and why there are so many packages displayed under the project. If you select a package in the Projects view, you can see that the File System, Registry, Environment Variables and Services tabs are displayed on the right side of the screen. Those tabs show the captured changes [picture 10]. Every displayed package corresponds to the Windows process that generated the captured changes, so the changes are grouped by processes, and the package names correspond to the processes names. It is normal that installation changes are applied by different processes. You can review the captured changes and if you find a package that includes any changes unrelated to the captured installation, you can delete such a package from the project and re-generate the MSI.
      

Pic 9. The created installation project
          

Pic 10. The monitored installation changes
    

Using the available visual editors, you can not only review the captured changes but also modify them, if required. For example, you can add/remove files, registry keys and other resources by selecting a package in the Projects view. By selecting a project in the tree, you can modify its properties or add pre- and post-installation actions, for example. Once the required changes have been applied, you can re-generate the MSI package.
Testing the created MSI package and troubleshooting the problems

Once an MSI package has been generated, it needs to be thoroughly tested before being deployed remotely across a network. To test an MSI, it's recommended to install it manually on a virtual machine with a fresh OS installation. After the deployment, you need to run the installed application to make sure it works as expected.

If you notice a problem with the generated MSI, you can repeat the repackaging process. A lot of problems can be resolved if you use a clean environment for repackaging and follow the repackaging best practices. Unfortunately, in some situations it isn't possible to successfully repackage an installation using the monitoring technology. It may happen if an installation deploys Windows drivers or modifies Windows system resources. Such types of installations are unique for every PC and cannot be moved from one PC to another. If any unsupported changes are detected, EMCO MSI Package Builder will report an MSI generation problem and should suggest using installation wrapping instead of installation monitoring to repackage a particular installation. You can see an example of using wrapping in this tutorial below.

Example 2 - Creating a Custom MSI Package Using Monitoring

Sometimes you need to create a custom MSI package to apply some changes, but creating an installation using the traditional approach seems very time-consuming, or you may have no idea how to describe the required changes in an installation project. For example, let's assume that you need to install a font into a system, but you only know how to do it manually through Windows dialogs, and you don't know which file system and registry changes should be applied, so you can't create the required installation project manually. In this case, you can rely on the monitoring technology that will automatically do all the hard work for you.

Basically, using monitoring for creating custom MSI packages is identical to repackaging, except for the fact that you don't have an original installation file, so you have to manually perform the required changes to be captured by EMCO MSI Package Builder.

Step 1. Start monitoring

To start monitoring, press the Start Monitoring button available on the Home tab of the Ribbon. As the result, the wizard will be started and you will see information on the monitoring best practices. You should follow the same rules you follow during the installation monitoring. Read the displayed information and press the Next button. Then enter the name of the MSI project that will be created to include the monitoring results and press the Next button to proceed to the next step [picture 11]. Finally, you can see the list of currently running applications/processes, and you can select any of them if you need to filter out changes made by them. Once you are ready, press the Finish button to start monitoring changes.

Step 2. Apply the required changes
Now that all the changes are monitored by the application, you can select the font file that needs to be installed in Windows Explorer and the option to install it from the context menu. Check the Windows Control Panel > Fonts to make sure that the font has been installed correctly.

Step 3. Stop monitoring and review the captured results
Return to EMCO MSI Package Builder and press the Stop Monitoring button on the Home tab of the Ribbon. As the result, you can see that a new project has appeared in the Projects view [picture 12]. You can review the captured changes and delete any unwanted changes, if required.
      

Pic 11. Specifying the project name
          

Pic 12. Reviewing the captured changes   

Step 4. Generate an MSI package
Select the created project in the Projects view and press the Create MSI Package button on the Home tab of the Ribbon to generate an MSI package. In the MSI generation dialog, you need to specify the path to the generated file and the manufacturer name. You can specify other options as well, but what's important for the current installation is that you enable the rebooting option.

Step 5. Test the created MSI package
Use a virtual machine with a clean OS installation to test the generated MSI package. After installing the MSI and rebooting the PC, the installed font should appear in the Windows settings.

Example 3 - Repackaging Silent Installations into an MSI Package Using Wrapping

You can use the wrapping method to obtain MSI packages for installations that support silent deployment. The original installation files are wrapped by an MSI package and are silently deployed when you install the MSI. It's preferred to use wrapping instead of monitoring when you know that the repackaged installations support silent deployment. In case of wrapping, you can use original unmodified installations files, and you only need to run them silently instead of having to apply external modifications that are required when using monitoring, so you get better repackaging results when using wrapping. Wrapping can be used to distribute any types of installations, including installations that deploy Windows drivers or modify Windows system resources, which cannot be repackaged using monitoring.

To see how to use the installation wrapping method, let's assume that we need to create an MSI package to install 7-Zip and Notepad++. Of course, you can use wrapping to create an MSI for a single installation only, but in this case let's see how to create a single MSI package for multiple wrapped installations.

Step 1. Determine and test the silent installation parameters
Since we need to create a wrapping MSI package ready for silent deployment, we should ensure that the included installations can be deployed silently. Using the Internet search, we can find out that both the 7-Zip and Notepad++ installations can be deployed silently if the installation files are executed with specific parameters. Before generating an MSI package, we need to ensure that silent deployment of the original installations works as expected. Use a virtual machine with a clean environment to test the silent installations of 7-Zip and Notepad++. Silent installations should be completed automatically, and you should not be prompted to select any installation settings. If the tested installations can be deployed silently, you can proceed to the next step.

Step 2. Open the Repackage Installation Wizard
Run EMCO MSI Package Builder. By default, at the start of the application, you should see the opened Repackage Installation Wizard. If it doesn't open automatically, you can click the Repackage Installation button on the Home tab of the Ribbon. Once the wizard is started, read the welcome information and press the Next button.

Step 3. Select the installation wrapping option
We are going to use installations wrapping, so select the Wrap Installation option in the wizard and press the Next button to proceed to the next step [picture 13].

Step 4. Specify the installation files and the installation options
You are prompted to enter the path to the first installation. In the file picker dialog, specify the path to the 7-Zip executable installation file. You should specify the installation options in the New Wrapped Package dialog. You can change the package name to 7-Zip, if you like. In this dialog, you also need to specify the silent command-line parameters to being passed to the installation [picture 14]. As we know, the 7-Zip installation can be deployed silently when executed with the /S parameter, so enter it into the Parameters field and press OK to close the dialog. Since we also need to add the Notepad++ installation to the MSI package, press the Add Package button in the wizard to configure another installation entry. Select the location of the Notepad++ installation file and specify the /S installation parameter in the New Wrapped Package dialog that appears as we know that this parameter is required for silent installation [picture 15]. Finally, press the Next button in the wizard to proceed to the next step.

Step 5. Specify the MSI properties
You should enter the path to the MSI package to be generated. Also, you need to enter the manufacturer name and change other options, if required [picture 16]. Press the Finish button to start the MSI generation.
      

Pic 13. Selecting the wrapping option
          

Pic 14. Configuring the 7-Zip install options
    
    
Pic 15. Configuring the Notepad++ install options
          

Pic 16. Specifying the MSI generation options
    

Step 6. Get the MSI package and test it
After some time required for generating an MSI, you can see the generated MSI package. Before deploying it remotely across a network, you should test it to make sure the MSI works as expected. It's recommended to use a virtual machine with a clean environment for testing the MSI installation. After deploying the MSI package, both 7-Zip and Notepad++ should be installed and work properly.

 

Summary

By reading this tutorial, you can understand how to use the main features of EMCO MSI Package Builder. If you need to get more detailed information about the described features or about features and options that aren't explained here, you can press F1 in the application to open the integrated Help file, which can provide you with more details.

Screenshots

 

 

 

Requirements

EMCO MSI Package Builder System Requirements

Computer running EMCO MSI Package Builder must meet following requirements.

Minimum Hardware Requirements

  • 1 GHz Intel Pentium processor or equivalent
  • 1 GB of RAM
  • 250 MB of free disk space

Recommended Hardware Requirements

  • 2 GHz Intel Pentium processor or equivalent
  • 2 GB of RAM
  • 500 MB of free disk space

Supported Platforms

Windows XP (with SP3), Windows XP x64, Windows 2003, Windows 2003 x64, Windows Vista, Windows Vista x64, Windows 2008, Windows 2008 x64, Windows 2008 R2, Windows 7, Windows 7 x64, Windows 8, Windows 8 x64, Windows 2012, Windows 8.1, Windows 8.1 x64, Windows 2012 R2

Requirements

  • Administrative rights on the local computer
  • Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 (3.5 SP1 recommended)