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Thursday, August 12, 2004, 12:00 pm PT (03:00 pm ET)

Mac OS X Tiger to sport feature-rich Installer application

Apple's Mac OS X "Tiger" Installer application will support several new features to aid developers in delivering a more robust installation experience for users, Apple developer sources say.

The new version—officially deemed "Installer 2.0"—packs several basic enhancements, in addition to some advanced features that will provide application developers with more control over their application's installation process through the creation of installer plug-ins and distribution scripts.

Basic Enhancements

Installer 2.0 will gain support for file version checking, ensuring that installers only replace outdated files on the user's machine, leaving up-to-date files alone. The software will also allow developers to create application upgrades that let the user select the application to be upgraded, whereas previously users could only select installation volumes.

Another feature of Installer 2.0 is a developer preference to provide minimal interface installations. Using this feature, developers can reduce the number of panels shown to the user during an installation or implement completely automated installs. The software will also gain true support for multiple CD/DVD installs, prompting the user for new discs as they are needed.

Advanced Developer Features

For those developers who would like to further customize their application's installation process, Tiger will offer Installer plug-ins. More specifically, Installer plug-ins are bundles that developers may use to display custom panes in the Installer of their applications. These panes may be used to display instructions or gather additional information, such as registration and license information.

Additionally, developers will be able to create custom distribution scripts that offer a flexible and convenient way to install multiple subpackages from a single installation package. The scripts combine a simple collection of XML elements and optional JavaScript code to deliver a very sophisticated set of installation options to the user. Developers who use a distribution script can establish package dependencies, offer highly configurable installation options, and provide code to prevent the user from installing software on an unsupported hardware or software configuration.

In recent weeks AppleInsider has provided extensive coverage of Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger. Previous reports include coverage of Tiger's Spotlight search, Safari with RSS, Mail 2.0 with smart mailboxes, iCal 1.5.3, AppleScript 1.10, web enabled Help, Fast Logout, Access Control Lists, OpenGL enhancements, adoption of OpenAL, Core Data, PDF Kit, SQLite, and networking-related enhancements.