A Setup Commander Review
Setup Commander generates transform files (MST) for selected MSI packages and provides silent installation parameters for legacy setups. Packages can be easily created directly in SCCM, MDT or ZENworks Configuration Management, or it can create packages easily imported into solutions without connectors such as RES One Automation, the KACE Systems Management Appliance, Active Directory GPOs or other deployment solutions.
You can either select an existing setup or use its Setup Store interface. From the Setup Store, a database of over 2,000 applications that are already known to Setup Commander, a setup can be easily selected for one-click download to create your package. However, you need not look applications up as you can simply browse to a setup file on your local system. This latter method makes Setup Commander a solution that supports every setup there is, and not just the huge number sitting in the Setup Store.
Setup Commander interrogates any setup files it has not seen before to dynamically provide you with silent installation parameters for an unattended installation. For Windows Installer setups, it can go further and provide a dynamic custom Configuration Wizard. And the guys at ROVABU have used their own skills and customer feedback to create specialized Configuration Wizards for about 250 applications (at the time of this article).
These custom Configuration Wizards are all versioned with their own release notes for a history of updates to the Wizards themselves. ROVABU are always researching the latest setups and options available and encourage feedback from users to identify any desired customizations or options not already covered. Any new or updated Wizards are automatically downloaded and made available to users every time Setup Commander is launched. Seeing the Wizards provided for Adobe Flash Player, Oracle JAVA, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, FileMaker Pro and others quickly help you to appreciate the value of this solution.
Setup Commander also includes a very easy to use MSI Wrapper tool as well as a Repackaging Wizard. The Repackaging Wizard guides you through the creation of several popular package types including Turbo (formerly Spoon), App-V, ThinApp or MSIs using AdminStudio or RayPack. Setup Commander does not directly include the tools to create these formats, but instead provides a wizard to streamline the process. For example, if you choose to create an App-V setup, the wizard will make a one-time request for the path to the App-V sequencer (the SFTSequencer.exe file).
Setup Commander is a very powerful solution that provides a very valuable function. I really love it. However, for every review here at AppDetails I’m trying to point out where there may be room for improvement. For Setup Commander, the one thing I’ll say could benefit from some more work is the user interface. The Setup Store dialog takes a while to load (I thought the database was just large but the delay is in the loading of the data into the form). Also, filtering in the Setup Store requires you choose a specific field to search upon and it is not clear what values are valid for all of them. If you’re like me and never read documentation, the actions of some context menu items are not easy to figure out. Many of the actions you’ll take are initiated from a context menu which you’ll see when you right click on a setup. Some of the options listed require that you have a familiarity you will not until you read or play with it. A cool function called a “Directory Hotlist” where you can save shortcuts to favorite folders is hidden behind a button with an asterisk on it. These types of things just require some familiarity which you’ll gain quickly, but could serve to slow you down a bit when getting started.
As with every product, it is evolving and I’m already aware of improvements being made to the user interface and plans to improve the Store Search capability. They’ve got some powerful automation improvements on the way as well, so we may need to update this review in the not too distant future to cover even more cool capabilities!
To see Setup Commander in action, check out their YouTube channel.
Setup Commander is available by subscription. For pricing, a demo, questions or to discuss your requirements, you are (as always) encouraged to leverage AppDetails Recommendation Services free of charge.
– Bob Kelly, AppDetails