Utility reduces work needed to download and reinstall apps

If you're building or rebuilding a system from scratch, a utility called InstallPad can reduce the amount of work needed to download and reinstall applications.

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Many of the applications I use on a given system are downloaded from somewhere, rather than being installed from a CD. When building (or rebuilding) a Windows system from scratch, I've often had to resort to a list of applications written down on a piece of paper to remember what needs to be downloaded and installed.

A utility called InstallPad will reduce the work needed to download and reinstall a list of applications. You can create one or more lists of applications (which are saved as XML files), download them on demand, or pass them to another user or download them on another installation of InstallPad.

The program can search for files based on the http://, ftp:// or file:// URL protocols, so it's possible to obtain files that have been locally or remotely hosted. InstallPad comes with a default list of existing common applications (such as Firefox and OpenOffice.org), but it's easy to create your own list. Up to three applications will download at once, but this can be changed in the program's settings file (which is also XML).

Open your list of applications and InstallPad will download and install each of them with a single click of a button. Installs can be run silently (if that option is supported) and can have command-line arguments passed to the installer.

The program also has a heuristic function that attempts to determine if a more recent version of a given program is available by inspecting the program's name for a revision number and then trying to download a file with a more recent revision in the same directory. To be honest, the function doesn't always work, but you should be able to detect many applications that use good revision-numbering tactics this way.

InstallPad requires the .NET 2.0 framework. The original source code (in C#) is available as a Visual Studio 200 project if you want to make revisions or changes to it.

About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the  Windows Power Users Newsletter, which is devoted to hints, tips, tricks, news and goodies for Windows NT, Windows 2000 and Windows XP users and administrators. He has more than 10 years of Windows experience under his belt, and contributes regularly to SearchWinComputing.com and SearchSQLServer.com.

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This was first published in October 2006

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