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Incorrect directions in design

For the amusement of others I’m going to share with you what will hopefully provide an instructive story in my misadventures in software design. We are in the midst of a crusade at my day job for updating the installers for our products. Given that we make Windows software, installers are key, and a good one adds to the user experience.

After witnessing the beauty of how installers can magically be made as part of the build process, after building PyObjC, I set out on a mission. My goal: create a wonderful installer for my sample application.

(as an aside, if you are building Windows you need to check out WiX. Microsoft made this, use this and then open sourced this. Very cool.)

Many hours later, after reading all of the documentation for [bdist_mpkg][], reading through a whole bunch of source code, using grep over a whole bunch more and reading yet more stuff, I finally gave up. In caving, I packaged together the closest that I’d managed to get into an email.

Some one much wiser than me provided with very enlightening insight:

Don’t create installers for applications.

Simple really.

The blinding obviousness of this truth took some time to sink in. When on a mission, it takes a while for me to re-group. I consulted my memory. Yep. Every product on my mac that needed an installer I disliked. The applications I like, simply provided me with the application bundle and I could put it anywhere I wanted!

I was so convinced that I needed an installer, that I’d neglected to take a step back and look at my assumptions. On the bright side, I now know much more about the distribution of python modules than ever before.

Lesson for others, for Mac OS X, don’t create installers for applications, but if you need to install a python module, the [hard work][bdist_mpkg] has been done for you