oday, developers use self-contained installation packages to deploy their applications to their customers. Such a package
provides a fast and easy way to perform typical installation functions such as copying the necessary application files to the
disk, writing out initial configuration parameters, and creating file associations and shortcuts.
In addition to providing a favorable experience for the user, the installation routines guarantee that all of the necessary
details and actions take place so that the customer has a complete, functional, and reliable application installation. The
installation program, or installer, automatically handles all of the important aspects, leaving nothing to chance or relying
on the customer to perform supplementary configuration. Because of this, installers are a boon to system administrators who
can quickly deploy an application across dozens of computers in a time efficient and repeatable manner. To facilitate rapid
deployment, many installers, including BBj® revision 4.0, support a silent mode of operation.
What is a silent installation? Simply stated, a silent installation is an automatic process that installs the software
application from start to finish without any user interaction - no dialog boxes, no user prompts requesting more information,
no text confirmations. At first glance, this seems like a rather simple task. However, most installation routines rely on the
user to provide varied information such as the target directory, standard or customized configuration options, and
verification to overwrite files.
To address the need for this type of information, most silent installations offer some mechanism for a user to predetermine
the requisite information and make it available during setup - usually in the form of a response or property file. This
allows the installer to run in a completely silent mode and glean all of the necessary information from the file rather than
from the user. The property file not only eliminates the need for user interaction, but it also allows system administrators
to construct a customized configuration for an application's installation. After creating the property file, the
administrator is able to deploy the application onto hundreds of computers in a scripted, non-interactive manner. This
completely eliminates the need for the administrator to visit each machine and guarantees a complete setup without affecting
Silent installations provide other benefits as well, such as the ability to embed other components into the application's
installation package. A great deal of software today relies on the presence of other components to run. For example, some
applications require the existence of an ODBC Driver, an ActiveX control, or maybe even other software controls or third
party shared libraries. Silent installations deploy these underlying requisite components during the installation of the
application software. A BBj-powered Business BASIC application provides a good example of software that can benefit from a
silent installation. In addition to copying and preparing the application, the installation routine also installs and
configures BBj unbeknownst to the user. Cases like this are custom-made for silent installations, because application
developers typically wrap the underlying BASIS components and potentially other installers into their application's
installation routine, freeing the user from performing multiple installations.
The real power behind BBj's silent installation is the BBj installer .properties file, which
provides the ability to pre-configure how the installer performs. This is a simple ASCII file named the same as the BBj
installation package with a .properties extension, and consists of a number of key-value pairs
that determine how the BBj installer acts. Because the .properties file is independent from the
installer, the user can easily direct the BBj installer to run interactively or silently without requiring a different
Below is an example of a BBj .properties file, intended for use on a Windows XP system:
This .properties file instructs the BBj installer to:
- run in silent mode
- configure the BBj Services NT Service to run under the "BBjUser" account with a password of "BBjPWD"
- configure BBj to get its licenses from the BASIS License Manager running on the machine named quality.basis.com
- install BBj to the c:/program files/basis directory. Remember to designate
directories with forward slashes instead of back slashes.
To test the .properties file, name it 2166400.properties, copy it to the same directory as the 2166400.exe BBj installation package, and then launch the installer. After a brief loading
message, the BBj installer continues in silent mode, copying and configuring BBj 4.0 as instructed. The process is now
complete, silently and without any interaction.
BBj's installation capabilities continue to evolve and improve, providing application developers the power and flexibility
they need to effectively deploy their software. The silent installation streamlines the installation process, assuring
reliable and seamless integration between BASIS products and Business BASIC applications.