The 10 Commandments for setup program designers
BEHOLD, for I am the Angry Technician, and I am the gatekeeper between the cheap cardboard box your software arrived in and the hundred-thousand-pound computer network that is my Domain.
Heed my commandments and thy software shall pass unscathed onto the user’s workstation, but beware! Failure to obey will bring my wrath upon thee and thy company, resulting in profuse swearing and a pithy blog post.
- Thou shalt hire someone who actually knows what they are doing, for your skill in creating educational Flash games that prove inexplicably irresistable to teachers does not necessarily translate to any competence in enterprise-grade software deployment.
- Thou shalt use Windows Installer, for if I cannot use Group Policy Software Installation thy software shall be cast forever into the round file.
- Thou shalt not use Windows Installer to wrap a legacy installer, for this is heresy and never works properly.
- Thou shalt ensure any options your installer needs can be scripted, for if I have to type in the licence number on every single machine I will find you and break your fingers.
- Thou shalt allow me to choose the location of the shortcuts, for arrogance in assuming you are important enough to have a shortcut on the desktop will be punished in the afterlife, or sooner if ever we shall meet.
- Thou shalt not display any user interface during a silent install, for this is non-standard behaviour for Windows Installer and means you have screwed it up somehow.
- Thou shalt allow me to disable the auto-update feature, save for if it can update without requiring the user to have administrative privileges that they cannot be trusted with.
- Thou shalt not install out-of-date prerequisite software, because if I have to rip out one more 2-year old copy of Java that has massive security flaws, a plague of locusts will consume your cubicle. Don’t think I can’t get them, I know a guy.
- Thou shalt only make changes to the system that are actually relevant to your software, because I do not need to clean up after your installer that accidentally copied 28 shared system files from your Windows XP computer onto my computers running Vista.
- Thou shalt not refuse to install just because you think my computer is too slow, because I didn’t ask for your opinion, I asked you to install some software. The only person permitted to insult my computer is me. If I say my computer can run your software, it can run your software.