Growing Windows Installer Experts through Troubleshooting

Windows Installer expert Dennis Bareis responded to a previous post, Request for suggestions for updating the 1603 KB article.  As I worked through his points, the problem of "Growing Windows Installer Experts through Troubleshooting" came into focus.

Growing Windows Installer Experts through Troubleshooting
One of the challenges faced by the Windows Installer community is that there are not enough experts with the capacity to go all the way through the stack to the underlying Win32 behavior.

As with most "grow expertise" problems, there are a few high traffic areas in which one has the chance offer a novice the opportunity to build their expertise.

Once one identifies the high traffic areas, one should go to where the traffic is.

Top Three High Traffic Areas for Novices
The top three in my mind are: tools environment, troubleshooting, and design (in order of priority).

The primary instance to grow expertise is where a user of a packaging tool has reached the limit of the tools design and yet still needs to do more.  This opportunity to evolve expertise is generally lost to the Windows Installer because our various tools vendor partners each own their Integrated Development Environment (as they should ;^).

The secondary instance to grow expertise is when there are errors in the underlying experience and one needs to work backward from the low level data into the friendlier higher level constructs.

The tertiary instance to grow expertise is when novices show interest in design.

When I was little...
My goal in updating the KB would be to provide a bit more guidance to the novice that needs (or perhaps even wants) to grow in the direction of becoming an expert.

One of the challenges after reaching the expert level is trying to remember the road traveled so that one might draw a map for those who come after.

It's been so long since I was a novice, I thought it wise to ask for suggestions on how others guide folks on building their Windows Installer expertise through troubleshooting.

Thanks again for the valuable feedback.

[Author: Robert Flaming]
This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights. Use of included script samples are subject to the terms specified at