Last night I noticed this blog entry about the lack of Windows Installer Training courses. It got me thinking about an idea that Bob Arnson, Peter Marcu and I toss around occasionally. The idea always ends with this question, "What if we could do the Installation Architecture Reviews outside of Microsoft?"
For over a year now, those of us that volunteer on the WiX toolset have offered to do installation architectural reviews for teams inside Microsoft. Over that time we've seen the whole gambit of installation scenarios from 64-bit registration issues to multi-server Web+DB applications to tiny internal IT apps hurting for a real build process to Internet patch distribution challenges to the very important application that they didn't realize wouldn't install on Vista (until we pointed out the non-deferred system modifying CustomAction).
We usually meet with the team over lunch in some conference room and talk for an hour or two about whatever the team wants to cover. We always start by understanding the application design before digging into the setup design. Often we end up spending more time talking about the design of their application than their setup since fixing architectural issues at the root is usually easier than creating workarounds at the edge. In the end, both sides have always have a good time and everyone walks away having learned something. Sometimes we even get invited back later to follow up on progress made or to answer additional questions.
So the idea that Bob, Peter and I discuss is what it would be like to provide the same installation architecture reviews for companies outside of Microsoft. We think it would be fantastically fun but aren't sure there would be enough interest to warrant the effort it would take to "break out of the corporate firewall". So, it occurred to me that I should just ask. Duh.
If you would be interested in investigating what it would take to have a few guys that work on the WiX toolset and at Microsoft doing an architectural review of your application or system installation, please contact me. If we get enough interest, we'll see what we can work out.