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Application Suite Deployment Best Practices / Patt

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 19:37

Hi, I'm looking for some best practices literature or guidance for the best way to architect a deployment system for a suite of Windows based applications. There are numerous best-practices guides about authoring a single .MSI, but I can’t find much information on deploying a suite of applications. The general convention seems to be that if you want to launch multiple .MSIs, you should use some kind of bootstrapper application like the Visual Studio bootstrapper to install the prerequisites and then launch the MSIs in sequence. However, I’d like to understand the best way to divide the suite into MSI’s / MSM’s – for example, should we author one MSI for each application or use one MSM for each application? Microsoft suites like Office and SQL server all seem to be composed of multiple applications with client and server components; I’d like to understand how those deployments are architected and use the same patterns in our deployment. It seems like the WIX toolkit is becoming a popular tool within Microsoft to author MSIs; however, do you still need to use this in conjunction with a separate bootstrapper application?

I’ll try to include some information / requirements about our suite:
1. Composed of several applications
2. Some of the applications have dependencies on others within the suite
3. Some of the applications have client and server components, which can be installed independently.
4. Some of the application installs accept common user input such as user names and folder locations. We would like to ask for the input only once and re-use it when appropriate.
5. Each application has it’s own release schedule, so the entire suite is not released at the same time. This is probably the biggest difference from the Office and SQL Server suites. Maybe this makes it impossible to achieve the same architecture?

Any help would be appreciated!

Stefan Krueger

Stefan Krueger


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Posted 15 March 2007 - 19:41

Using several MSIs instead of MSMs has the advantage that each package can be services independently (patches). You would use some sort of bootstrapper to run the MSIs in a row.