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Ideal installation troubleshooter

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 07:18

Hello All,

I am reaching out to you in the hope that you would be able to provide some valuable inputs.
Before we start, let me tell you that all of our installers are msi based built using Wix.
The team i work for here spends a considerable amount of time answering install queries raised by the test team. The test team is quite big , spread across geographies.
Typical queries are:
i)Why is a particular file not getting copied.
ii)Why is a particular file not cleaned up after an uninstall
iii)What is the reason for a reboot?
iv)Why is a particular registry entry not getting created on an install/cleande up after an uninstall?

Apart from the above , there are tons of other questions related to file versions etc which got to be redirected to teh configuration team.
This is time consuming and we would like to automate this process by creating a troubleshooter, an install troubleshooter.

There are two tools currently shipped by Microsoft:
i)Windows installer log utility(WiLogUtil.exe)
ii)Microsoft fixit

Both of the above tools help in answering queries which are very high level. None of them drill deeper into the kind of questions which we are posed with.
I would like to know your opinion if you think that a troubleshooter would help.

I would like to get your inputs as to what would constitute an ideal troubelshooter, something which should help a customer understand as to why something happens the way it is..

Your response would be very much appreciated.

Kiran Hegde

Stefan Krueger

Stefan Krueger


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Posted 03 July 2012 - 09:43

I think that many questions could be answered from the log file, but it's not easy to rewad. So you would need a tool which can extract the information from the log.


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Posted 03 July 2012 - 15:28

Thanks Stefan.

Apart from extracting information from the log file, can you think of anything else which might be value additiosn to the tool?

I am very passionate about building this tool to help the test team here.
Can you think of any featuers which might make the tool look very professional?

Kiran Hegde


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Posted 04 July 2012 - 10:18

As Stefan mentioned, the Windows installer log(with max verbosity) is the most informative asset in the hands of an Application Packaging developer. Parsing it properly and presenting the info is, thus, a good idea.

There is a huge list of ERROR CODES and description available at:

Maybe, you could create a dictionary out of it, parse the LOG file and see if it contains anything that matches the dictionary etc...

I always rely upon SysInternals(Microsoft, Mark Russinovich) tools for deep digging, but this is time consuming and painful.

ProcMon is particulary useful in finding registry and file system issues.

The problem we have is quite simple to understand. We create the msi package, but Windows Installer engine(msiexec) is responsible for all the interaction with the system. Windows Installer is a black-box as far as msi package developer is concerned. The only info Windows Installer emits is the LOG.

MSISpy is also a good tool.


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Posted 04 July 2012 - 12:21

The WiLogUtil.exe already parses the log file for the documented windows installer errors. However the information provided by it is very high level. It talks about component states, feature states and errors.
What we need is an advanced parser which can go a level deeper.
It should be able to answer queries such as why a particular file did not copy, etc
why a particular file is not cleaned up after an uninstall etc

So i wanted to know if such a thing makes sense and was asking for opinion from a larger audience.

Remember my audience is the test team. No matter how hard i try to educate them, there are always going to be questions as they would like to be doubly sure.
i want to avoid this by automating the workflows which we follow in answering their queries.

Kiran Hegde