Monday, June 20, 2011

Wix and InStyler

This isn't a SAS post even though SAS is on the periphery of this one. This post is designed to help other developers in a similar boat if they get a hit on the error message verbiage.

The standard MS Installer is going away (next year, I believe), and a lot of people are converting to WIX (Windows Installer XML). On my latest project, I needed a custom installer. Now anyone who has ever worked with custom installers should be able to tell you what an absolute pain it is, how hard it is to debug, hard to put in custom screens, etc.

This seemed like an opportune time to jump over to WIX, especially when I needed a lot more than what the custom dialogs could provide under the standard Windows installer technology inside of Visual Studios. InstallShield was NOT an option. They want way, way too much money for their product and I am not a fan from days of yore.

WIX is very flexible but it is also hard to work with. There are no GUIs, per se, for it which means a lot of manual coding. My current WIX file, code generated, is weighing in at 900+ lines of XML. That and looking up the GUIDs for products, etc. meant a lot of manual effort and lots of places for mistakes.

I found a product on the web called Instyler Setup. Not sure how well supported it is, and it has a number of bugs, but it mostly writes the WIX for you. Two of the most annoying bugs I wanted to describe so others can seee them on the web:

1. "Error 2834: The next pointers on the dialog ErrorPopup do not form a single loop"

...when running the installer is caused by the text label on the ErrorPopup dialog having a tabstop set to true. MSI is very, very picky about everything which is why it is a nightmare to debug.

2. "Error 1723. There is a problem with this Windows Installer package."

...make sure you reference the CA dll instead of teh normal dll on your custom action.

3. To make working with WIX a lot easier, download and install the DTF package:

4. Turn on MSI debugging in your local group policy. this makes like a lot easier to track things down.

I hope these get picked up in the search engines and helps some other dev out at some point.

Friday, June 17, 2011


And the joy of being a pathfinder continues ;-]

IIS 7.5 has now changed the game. No longer do we play with NETWORK SERVICES to get SAS operational. Now it is a new user IIS APPPOOL\DefaultAppPool. Security has now been taken from NETWORK SERVICES, which covered the website, to specific security by the AppPools. I am not a security expert but that is my understanding.

So I took my happy little web services project (WCF) that worked fine in Visual Studio 2010 (Cassini), built a Web Setup for it, and deployed it to localhost. Then spent the next 7 hours staring at the same error: ACCESS DENIED. This was occurring on CreateObjectByServer. ACCESS DENIED, ACCESS DENIED, ACCESS DENIED, over and over again. I spent so much time in DCOMCNFG even going so far as to enable the Administrator account as the launching account, open up everything I could, and still ACCESS DENIED.

This morning I spoke to Bubba in SAS Tech Support. Great guy. He didn’t know this area but diligently was tossing out terms on tech notes he saw. He finally tossed out “enable 32-bit apps” and I keyed in on that one immediately. Well, I did a bit of investigation and have now made it far enough along for a blog post:

In IIS 7.5, get your application in place under a Virtual Directory:

Set up whatever app pool you are using. In this case, it is DefaultAppPool. Click on the Application Pools under the directory. Now here is where you have a choice. You can use the DefaultAppPool for everything but that also means giving it access to every library location, file, whatever. I opted to instead set up a new account called ‘WebService”.

Now it needs to be associated with the access rights for each directory and file. This is standard Windows stuff. Click on a directory and add the new username:

In IIS, change the App Pool to use the new identity:

Here are the settings and the ones to be concerned with:

Enable 32-bit applications and set the identity as needed. By default, it will be the name of your app pool. We will use our newly created name of WebService.

Now, time to go into DCOMCNFG (Start --> Run --> DCOMCNFG and fix the DCOM entry for the SAS Workspace:

Finally, change your code to the following:

ObjectFactory factory = new ObjectFactory();
ServerDef server = new ServerDef();
SasWorkSpace = (Workspace)factory.CreateObjectByServer("ws", true, server, "WebService", "MyPassword");
var id = SasWorkSpace.UniqueIdentifier;
SasLanguageService = SasWorkSpace.LanguageService;
keeper = new ObjectKeeper();
keeper.AddObject(1, "SASServer", SasWorkSpace);


Thanks Bubba. I think we p*wned it.

…not really but it works good enough for me for now ;-)

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