Today’s tip is one which many folks already know, but surprisingly many folks, even those who have used the product for a long time, have some how missed.  Due to some work I put into this many years ago it holds a special little place in my ConfigMgr admin heart.

If you use any version of System Center Configuration Manager (SMS, ConfigMgr, SCCM) then you have probably created some packages and programs to deploy software. Have you ever noticed the option (varies based on product version) for creating a package from definition?  That option was originally placed there so that software makers, such as Microsoft, could provide an easier way to deploy the product by you, the ConfigMgr admin.  Along with the binaries of the product they could also supply a file, called a package definition file, which would auto populate some fields in ConfigMgr such as product name, version, proper command lines, etc.  Originally these files were a .PDF extension but, for reasons I am all figure out, we changed that to be a .sms extension.

So.., great concept.  You grab the files from the software maker, import the package definition file to create the package and program details in ConfigMgr, then you point the newly created package at your source files and start distributing software.  The catch is… that it didn’t catch.  Most companies and products did not bother with the creation of package definition files.  Then along came our friend, the MSI.

With MSI technology picking up we saw the opportunity to help the ConfigMgr admin use this package definition concept.  Code changes were made and now you can reference an .MSI as well as a .SMS or .PDF file for package and program creation.  No longer must you depend on the software maker to create a special file.  If they have an MSI then you can reference that and ConfigMgr will extract all the necessary data out to create the package and programs you need.

Next time you need to deploy software, check this out and see if it helps you take a few steps out of the deployment process.