5 tips to make you a software packaging expert

If you do software packaging semi-regularly, you know how much of a pain it is to package new software. So much to figure out and next time you'll need to update your package you'll need to do it all over again. Here are 5 tips to make you more effective at software packaging:

1. Install the software manually

You won't understand how the software can be configured if you don't run through the installer once and, even then, you may not know everything that can be configured. Running through the installer once gives you some idea about the various default settings and what you'd want to change. It also tells you what you need. Do you need a license key? a license server?

2. Give /s, /q, /qn and /? a go

If you have a machine on which you can install the software, try running the executable with /s or /q command line arguments, /qb for MSIs. For a lot of software, this is the way they install silently. There is a very high chance that one of those (or a variation, like -s or -q) will show up in your install script. As for /? or /help chances are also that it will work with the executable and gives you the possible installation options.

3. Don't reinvent the wheel

It's unlikely that you are the first one to package this software. There are software packaging communities like ITNinja who may have what you're looking for. Even on the vendor's own website may have instructions on how to package the software. Here are Koupi we have created thousands of packages over the years and made some available to you to use so you don't have to figure out how to do it.

4. Master the google keywords to find your answers

Thankfully, IT companies don't get creative when it comes to labeling their packaging documentations. There are a few variations of the same terms that will allow you to find your software packaging documentation:

  • Silent installation

  • Unattended installation

  • Command line switches

  • Command line options

  • Deployment guide

  • Deployment script

  • Software package

5. Find the installer packaging tool

For really stubborn software you may not find any of the documentation you need but there is still hope. Chances are those installers were made with a standard installer packaging tool or at least one that has documentation. Usually, when you run the installer manually, that company put some sort of branding. You'll need to search through the install wizard for that branding.

Once you have the packaging tool's name, you should be able to find that tool's default command line options by googling it. Searching for "<packaging tool> command line options" should yield the results you need. Otherwise, go through the options mentions in tip #4.

Do you have any other tips you can think of?

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