Creating a Web-based Installation and Automatically Checking for Updates to it


Article ID: 179443


Updated On:


Symantec Products





 Using Web Deploy to post your installation to a web site and Wise Update to automatically check for updates.


Two pages in Installation Expert give you the ability to create an entire Web-based installation then automatically check for newer versions of it from a user’s computer. On the WebDeploy page, you can create a Web-based installation that users can download from the Internet. Distributing your application via the Web means easy and reliable access to the application for your users. With the WiseUpdate page, you configure settings to install a small client application on the user’s computer when your application is installed. Not only will the WiseUpdate client check for newer versions of your application from the user’s computer, but it will download and run it too. Read on to learn about the WebDeploy and WiseUpdate features and how to implement them in your application.



Installing an .MSI file through the Web is only beneficial if you set your installation to output either external .CAB files or uncompressed external files. A WebDeploy installation only downloads the files necessary for the features selected in the installation. If you use internal .CAB files, the entire installation must be downloaded regardless of the features the user selects during the installation.


You can also use the WebDeploy page to make Windows Installer or .NET runtimes available through the Internet. This lets you ship a smaller MSI and exclude runtimes, which are typically large files. When the user runs the MSI, the installation will download the appropriate runtimes if needed. Keep in mind that for MSI files installed from the Web, the MSI looks to the Web site from which it was installed for the source MSI during all repairs and modifications of the installation.


To create a Web-based installation, you first configure options on the WebDeploy page in Installation Expert. Next, you compile to create an .EXE file, then FTP the file to the Web.


To configure the WebDeploy page:

1.  Go to Installation Expert, then go to the WebDeploy page in the Release Definition page group.

2.  Select the release for which you want to create the Web-based installation.

3.  Select the “Create a Web-based installation” radio button.

4.  In the .EXE Option field, select “Create a downloadable .EXE” to create an installation that runs off of the Web. Otherwise, select “Create an .EXE and .INI” to distribute the .EXE through traditional media sources that let the user run the installation from the Web.

5.  Fill in the URL fields described below with a hostname, directory to the file on the host, and the file name. Optionally, you can include the username and password. For example, http://username:[email protected]/installpath/myinstall.msi. Use the Edit button next to the URL fields to assist you in constructing the URL values.

·        .MSI Download URL. Enter the full URL to the installation’s .MSI file.

·        9x Download URL. Enter the full URL to the Windows Installer .EXE file for Windows 9x.

·        NT Download URL. Enter the full URL to the Windows Installer .EXE file for Windows NT.

·        .NET Runtime URL. Enter the full URL to the .NET common language runtime if you choose to make the file available to your users.  The .NET runtime includes Windows Installer 2.0 runtime support.


To compile and distribute your Web-based installation:

1.  Click the Compile button. Your installation is compiled to an executable file that launches an external .MSI.

2. Click the Distribute button to open the Distribution Wizard. Use the Distribution Wizard to FTP your installation files to your Website.



The WiseUpdate page enables your users to check for and install updated versions of your software from the Web.


To configure settings to implement WiseUpdate as part of your installation:

1. Go to Installation Expert, then go to the WiseUpdate page in the Distribution page group.

2. Select the “Include WiseUpdate Client”  radio button.

3.  Fill in the fields on the page as described below.

·        Host Address. Enter the address of the Web server where WiseUpdate will look for software updates. WiseUpdate only communicates using HTTP protocol, so omit the http:// prefix. You can use an address such as or the valid IP address of the server.

·        Host Username. Enter the username required for connecting to the host address if needed. Typically, Web servers do not require a username and password.

·        Host Password.  Enter the password required for connecting to the host address if needed. NOTE: WiseUpdate only uses basic HTTP authentication. 

·        Host Directory. Enter the directory on the host that will contain the WiseUpdate configuration file.  The Installer and Readme files are also stored in this directory.  To place these files in the top level directory of the host, leave this field blank.

·        Update Filename.   Enter the name of the WiseUpdate configuration file. This file will be in INI file format and will contain the version of the current installation, the size of the installer in bytes as well as the location of the installer and read me files.

·        Product Version. Enter the version number of the current installation.

·        Check Interval (Days). Use this option with the “Add client to StartUp group” checkbox. If you mark the checkbox, then fill in this field to specify how often WiseUpdate will check the host web site to look for updated software.

·        Alternate Web Page. Enter the URL of the Website to redirect the user to if WiseUpdate cannot connect with the host web server.  This URL could be to a support page, an informational page on upgrades, or a page that explains possible problems with the host site.

·        Start Menu Icon. Enter the name of a shortcut to the WiseUpdate Client.  This shortcut will be placed in the user’s Start menu and lets them check for updates at any time.

·        Add client to StartUp group. Mark this checkbox for the client to install to the user’s StartUp menu. If you mark this checkbox, you must enter a value (number of days) in the Check Interval (Days) field so that the Client knows how frequently to check for updates on the Web.


The first time you use WiseUpdate you will simply be adding support to your installation to check for the software updates. When you make subsequent upgrades, you must use exactly the same host and update filename information for your updated installations. Otherwise, WiseUpdate Client will not be able to find update information.


Integrating Web-based support and adding the WiseUpdate Client makes installing and maintaining your installation a breeze for both you and the user. More importantly, users have a quick and easy method to receive application changes, ensuring that they always have the most current version of your application.