Some people might find this useful, so I thought I’d write it up. If you want to create a multi-language MSI (Windows Installer package) that works without a bootstrapper executable, this is one possible way to do it. It relies on an undocumented feature of Windows Installer, so proceed with caution/at your own risk. Testing your final output is a must.
Anyway, according to this article at installsite.org, you can embed transforms into an MSI in a way so that Windows Installer will automatically apply them according to the system language when your MSI is loaded. This is the undocumented feature. If your MSI is simple enough that you don’t need dialog boxes/UI, but you just blaze through a default install, yet you want the few messages that show up by default to be localized, what I’m about to describe might be enough for you.
Here’s what you need: WiX (Windows Installer XML toolset), MsiTran.exe and some sample MSI scripts from the Windows SDK, and finally some custom-written scripts to glue the whole thing together.
I’ll assume you already have WiX installed (possibly in conjunction with Visual Studio), and that you have a simple, single-language WiX project handy.
You can get the Windows SDK from Microsoft as an ISO image (this one is for Windows 7). You can then mount this image using Magic Disc, Daemon Tools Lite or some other ISO-peeking utility. If you don’t want to install the entire SDK just to get the MsiTran.exe and MSI script samples, open the ISO up using your tool of choice and find the folder Setup.
To install just the tools package that will give you the MsiTran.exe, run WinSDKTools\WinSDKTools_x86.msi. MsiTran.exe will be found in %ProgramFiles%\Microsoft SDKs\Windows\v7.0\Bin after this. I suggest copying this file to your WiX installer project folder.
To get the script samples, run the MSI WinSDKSamples\WinSDKSamples_x86.msi. Once you’ve done this, you’ll find the sample scripts in %ProgramFiles%\Microsoft SDKs\Windows\v7.0\Samples\SysMgmt\Msi\scripts. Out of all these scripts you only need WiSubStg.vbs and WiLangId.vbs. I suggest copying them to your WiX installer project folder.
You should know ahead of building the original WiX project which languages and how many languages you’ll end up needing. Your original installer needs to list all of these in a comma separated list in the Summary Stream (and the list can’t contain 0). In WiX that looks like this:
<Package Compressed="yes" Description="My Installer" InstallerVersion="200" Comments="My Software Installer" Languages="1033,1031,1028,2052,1030,1043,1035,1036,1040,1041,1042,1044,1046,1034,1053,1049,1055,1045,2070" />
Once you’ve built the single language MSI using WiX, you run a script for each language you need your MSI localized in that does the following:
- Copy the original MSI to a new file
- Modify the newly copied MSI so it contains a different ProductLanguage using WiLangId.vbs
- Create a transform that captures the difference between the two MSIs using MSITran.exe
- Embed the transform in the final master installer using WiSubStg.vbs
Here’s the script that does it (I call this CreateEmbedLangTransform.cmd):
All you have to do as a post-build step (either in Visual Studio or as part of your build engine of choice) is call this script once for each language you’re interested in (I call this CreateLocalizedInstallerAllLanguages.cmd):
You’ll need to look up additional language codes in Microsoft’s documentation if you need more than the ones listed above.
Note that I’ve modified the scripts above from the ones I’m actually using to make them a little more generic, and I haven’t tested every aspect of them, but they give you the gist of it.
Here are the script files zipped up.