How to: Customize MSI Dialogs

By Rory Monaghan


Admittedly this post probably has a very limited audience. Of course the aim for most working in an enterprise environment when packaging and deploying applications is to ensure the application installs for your end users completely silently, with no manual intervention required, usually with the users seeing very little in the way of installation dialogs, possibly just a loading bar or some times nothing at all. Well, a few months back I was playing around with Admin Studio, setting up a custom template ISM file. While doing so, I somehow messed up the ISM and it failed to build my MSI properly, it could not find some files which were in the binary table. That’s when I realized that there’s a variety of different ┬áthemes to pick from to determine the look of your MSI Installations dialog screens. The default being the one, we likely all see a lot”


But there’s more. There’s actually a few different options to select from. For example:







Now, you could be dull and just pick one of the out of the box options or you could embrace the opportunity to add a little extra customization to your packages. It’s very easy to do in an ISM file. If you look in the Binary table:








You should see a file called banner.jpg and another one called welcome.jpg. These files are actually location under C:\Program Files (x86)\Installshield\Version\Support\Themes\InstallShield Blue Theme which is the default theme. If you would like you could create your own folder say┬áC:\Program Files (x86)\Installshield\Version\Support\Themes\Rorymon Theme. Take a copy of the Banner.jpg and Welcome.jpg into this folder and then do a little photoshopping and wala, you’ve got your own customized dialogs ready for use. Just change the directory in the Binary table for those two files to point to your new files and you should be good to go. Of course you could get even more ambitious and update even more than I have. But I kept it simple. Here’s an example of the results, keep in mind I am the least artistic soul on this earth!


You can see the dialog now has my own branding. This dialog uses the Welcome.jpg file.


And again, this dialog features my own custom branding. This is the banner.jpg file. You should be able to see your dialogs screens from within Admin Studio under the Dialogs menu, before building. There’s also a ‘Memo’ item which can be found in the control table which points to a text file. You can customize this also with a specific licensing information which is relevant to your company. Perhaps re-iterating some corporate policy for application usage.

Now, you may have noticed, I talked about an .ism file which is strictly a Flexera project file. You may be asking what about when applying an MST? Or even using Orca. Well, it get’s a good deal trickier and in my experience gives mixed results, it’s not something I would do with Vendor MSI’s. But if you wanted to give it a go. You can usually find the images used by the installer stored within the Binary table. In most cases I have seen, the name of the binary file is then also stored in a Property within the Property table. Finally this property is found within the Control table for one or multiple items. You can attempt to cut the binary file and simply add a new binary file with your own image and leave it as the same name. It’s much more difficult to do this though as there’s no consistency between applications, every one is different and can involve painstakingly going through lines in the table to figure out what file corresponds to what image.

So with that in mind. This likely has a very limited use case. It may be an attractive option when building your own in-house applications. You can customize your MSI dialogs to make it your own. I guess it would be particularly useful for those in the development world who actually create software for consumer use. You can create your own MSI and have your product branding on it.

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