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POLYCENTER Software Installation Utility Developer's Guide

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Chapter 3
Creating the Product Description File

The product description file (PDF) is a required component of any software product kit that you create using the POLYCENTER Software Installation utility. The PDF does the following:

  • Specifies all files that make up the product
  • Identifies configuration options that are presented to the user at installation time
  • Specifies any dependencies the product may have on other software products
  • Defines various actions that must be performed during installation

This chapter discusses the following PDF topics:

3.1 General Guidelines

The POLYCENTER Software Installation utility is intended to simplify the job of system managers, making products quick and easy to install and manage. Use the following guidelines when writing PDFs:

  • Minimize installation activity (such as linking images and building databases). Instead, include all material required for product execution on the reference.
  • Make your products adapt to the target environment at execution time rather than installation time. This practice keeps products consistent across varying configurations.
  • Avoid requiring system parameter settings on the target system that would require rebooting the system.
  • Minimize configuration choices at installation time.
  • Ensure that the PDF expresses all the known requirements that your product needs to execute. Use the checklist in Section 3.2 to define the requirements for the target environment.

3.2 Defining Your Environment

To define the environment for your product, use the following checklist.

  • Does your product depend on other software?
    For example, your product may require a specific version of the operating system or optional software products. To express these software requirements, use the SOFTWARE function or statement.


    Note the distinction between the SOFTWARE statement and the SOFTWARE function. The statement and function serve different purposes and are not interchangeable. See Table 7-10 for a summary of differences.
    The SOFTWARE statement specifies a software product that should be installed on the system to satisfy a software product dependency. It also specifies a software product that is a part of an integrated platform (product suite) and should be included in the platform product installation.
    The SOFTWARE function tests for the presence of a product. You can also specify the version of the product that must be present. The SOFTWARE function, unlike the SOFTWARE statement, does not create a permanent software reference to another product and does not force the installation of the other product.

    Note that software you reference with a SOFTWARE statement must be registered in the product database to be recognized by the POLYCENTER Software Installation utility. If you install a product using a mechanism other than the POLYCENTER Software Installation utility, the product database will not contain information about the product unless you register it using a full or transition PDF. For more information about creating transition product descriptions, see Section 3.5.7.
  • If you are creating a platform, what software products make up the platform?
    If you are creating a platform, you must specify the software products that make up the platform. To specify the products that make up your platform, use the SOFTWARE statement with the component option.
  • Does your product require specific hardware devices?
    For example, your product may require that the system has access to certain peripheral devices, such as a compact disc drive or printer. To display a message to users expressing these hardware requirements, use the HARDWARE DEVICE statement.

  • Does your product run only on specific computer models?
    Some products run only on certain computer models. For example, recent versions of the OpenVMS operating system are no longer supported on the VAX--11/725 computer. If this is the case with your product, use the HARDWARE PROCESSOR statement to display a message to users.
  • Does your product require specific images, files, or directories?
    All the files, images, and directories that your product requires should be expressed in FILE or DIRECTORY statements.
  • Does your product require a special account on the system?
    Some products require a dedicated account on the system. Use the ACCOUNT statement to supply the account.
  • Does your product require network objects?
    Some products require network objects on the system. If your object is designed for DECnet Phase IV, use the NETWORK OBJECT statement to supply the required network objects. For DECnet-Plus you might want to use a different mechanism. For example, supply an NCL script with a PDL file statement.
  • Do you want to set up rights identifiers?
    Use the RIGHTS IDENTIFIER statement.
  • Does your product supply an image to the system loadable images table?
    Use the LOADABLE IMAGE statement.
  • Does your product have several options that the user can choose?
    Although it is a good practice to limit the number of user options, you may need to present the user with options during installation. To present options to the user, use the OPTION statement.
  • Does your product have specific security requirements?
    If the files and directories for your product require special protection or access controls, you can express this in the product description. See the descriptions of the DIRECTORY statement and the FILE statement. You can also supply a rights identifier using the RIGHTS IDENTIFIER statement.
  • Does your product require certain values for system parameters?
    Many software products require that system parameters have certain values for the product to function properly. Use the SYSTEM PARAMETER statement to display system parameter requirements to users.
  • Does your product require certain values for process parameters?
    Use the PROCESS PARAMETER statement to display these requirements to users.
  • Does your product require certain values for process privileges?
    Use the PROCESS PRIVILEGE statement to display these requirements to users.
  • Do you want to include a functional test with your product?
    You can include it in the product material to verify that your product installed correctly. To execute the functional test for your product, use the EXECUTE TEST statement.
  • Are there commands that your installation procedure needs to execute that are outside the domain of the POLYCENTER Software Installation utility?
    Use the EXECUTE statement.
  • Does your product have specific pre- or postinstallation tasks?
    You can use the POLYCENTER Software Installation utility to automate these tasks; however, there may be some tasks you want users to perform that are outside the capabilities of the utility. You can inform users of such tasks using the INFORMATION statement. You can also use several of the EXECUTE statements to perform these tasks.
  • Does your product require command, help, macro, object, or text library modules?
    You should express the following types of modules in your PDF:
    • DIGITAL Command Language (DCL) command definition modules
    • DCL help modules
    • Macro modules
    • Object modules
    • Text modules

    You can express these types of modules using the MODULE statement.
  • What happens to existing product files?
    Make sure that your product's files are handled correctly during an installation or upgrade. The POLYCENTER Software Installation utility deletes all those files that are replaced by newly-installed products. When upgrading a full, an operating system, or a platform product, non-replaced files of the older product version are also deleted. When installing partial, patch, or mandatory update kits, files that are not replaced by new versions are preserved.
    To remove obsolete files, enclose FILE statements representing them in the REMOVE group statement.
  • Does your product require documentation?
    You may want to include online documentation (such as release notes) with your product. To express the documentation requirements for your product, use the release notes option to the FILE statement.

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