All software packagers know that an installation log file is critical for understanding and analyzing the behavior of an installation package, particularly with Windows Installer .MSI packages. Many, however, are not aware of a very helpful utility that can be used to help read log files.
Microsoft provides a tool called “Windows Installer Verbose Log Analyzer” with the Windows SDK for Windows 7 and .NET Framework Service Pack 1. The log analyzer,
WiLogUtl.exe, provides a graphical interface that allows you to interact with the log and presents critical installation information in an easy to read format.
The entire SDK is approximately 1.4 GB; but if you only want to install
WiLogUtl.exe, as well as a few other handy utilities like
Orca, select only
Win32 Development Tools on the Install Options install dialog. By default the log analyzer is installed to
C:\Program Files\Microsoft SDKs\Windows\[version number]
One particularly handy feature of
WiLogUtl.exe is the ability to view a log file in an HTML format. This special format presents the installer actions in a color coded layout which allows you to easily distinguish errors from custom actions, standard actions and other information in the log. The interface includes buttons to quickly navigate through the log.
Another very useful feature of the log analyzer is the Property button, which allows you to see all the installer properties and – more importantly – their values, in one window. Often times unexpected installation behavior can be attributed to incorrect property values.
The States button provides a view of the installation’s features and components; also very handy.
Understanding the root cause of unexpected installation behavior and resolving it can help ensure that your package won’t cause problems in production – and the Windows Installer Verbose Setup Log Analyzer can help save time doing it.