Updates, Without the Hassle
The job of updating users with your latest, greatest software just got easier with vBuild for InstallShield Professional.
vBuild is a tool that helps you through one of the biggest problems of selling
software: providing updates to users with a minimum of hassle (both on their
part and yours). A product of Red Bend software, there's now a version that
integrates with InstallShield Professional, which I had the chance to take for
To see where you'd want to use this product, consider a typical scenario for
a "release often" product. Say you've already got 1.0 and 1.1 in the field,
and you've started sending out CDs with version 1.2 on them. Suddenly, your
QA department finds a serious bug, and you need to put out 1.2a. Now what? You
might send a full set of 1.2a setup files to every customer, but that could
get expensive fast. And the full setup can take a long while to download.
What vBuild will do for you is build patches that turn 1.0, 1.1, and 1.2 into
1.2a. These patch setups are based on byte-level differencing of the installed
bits, and are compressed to keep them small. Even better, vBuild can wrap all
of this up with their OCI online setup technology. This combines all of the
patches and the full files into one set of media that you can deploy on your
Web server. When a user browses to the package, they get a small agent which
then inspects their system and determines which files actually need to be downloaded.
The integration with InstallShield comes not at the IDE level, but in the fact
that vBuild understands the InstallShield package format. It can extract a list
of files from two versions, match them up (possibly with your help if file names
have changed) and put the changes togeether with the UI and logic you've created
using InstallShield Pro. The process is quick and easy, and although the vBuild
UI can be a bit confusing (there are too many sets of buttons), it gets the
job done. The results can be deployed to your own server and hooked up to InstallShield's
update notification service.
vBuild is certainly not inexpensive, but you have to balance off the initial
investment against cost savings when you've got a substantial customer base.
InstallShield is also offering a $500 discount for a limited time, as well as
bundle prices with InstallShield Professional. Note that this only works with
Professional (the product that uses InstallShield's own scripting engine), not
with Developer (the MSI-based product that I reviewed in the previous issue
of Developer Central).
Mike Gunderloy, MCSE, MCSD, MCDBA, is a former MCP columnist and the author of numerous development books.