Troubleshooting Expression Design Setup problems

Lately we are seeing more setup issues with Expression Design on the Expression Design forum than we normally do. The intention of this article is to assist you as much as possible if you do have a setup issue. If the issue cannot be resolved  here on the blog, then this article will help you collect the information needed by the Expression Design forum moderators or the Microsoft Expression Design support staff to troubleshoot and solve your setup issue.

Let’s start with the basics. Assuming you received some kind of error message or a failure code or an error number during setup, the first thing you need to do is make note of the text of the error or error number. Write it down, take a screenshot or you can gather a log file. The log file will be written to the TEMP directory on your machine. The location of that directory may vary depending on your operating system, so the surest way to find it is to do the following:

Click the START button or on Vista or Windows 7 click the image button. In the run command line (on Windows XP click Run and in the command line) type the following:


and hit ENTER

This will open the Temp folder. Now, I recommend that you view the files in a details view. On Windows XP click View > Details to switch or on Vista click Views > Details.

The file you are looking for will have a .LOG extension (you may or may not have file extensions turned on, so don’t fret if you don’t see any files with a .LOG extension). The name of the file will always start with “XSetup_Design” followed by a date and some random numbers. An example of a log file name would be “XSetup_Design_2009_7_8_16_4_13.LOG”.

Now if you email the log file to the forum moderator who asks for it or if you post the error message and/or error number on the forums in your post, then you can stop reading here. What I’m about to go into is a bit more advanced and involves reading the log file in depth. So continue reading if you dare; stop here if you are faint of technical heart.

Return Value 3

To get more information from the log file itself, open it up. Usually a .LOG file opens in either Notepad or Wordpad by default. Click on Edit, Find and do a search on the following without the quotes - “Return Value 3”. And upper/lower case doesn’t matter here. Click the Find Next button.

If “Return Value 3” is in the log file then your view will jump down to where that text is located and it will be highlighted. Return Value 3, in Windows Installer terms, is a fatal error. That means something bad enough happened during the install that the setup process needed to stop. So when you find the first line that says “Return Value 3” you typically look one or two lines up from that to find the cause. Here’s an example:

4:31:53 PM Monday, December 29, 2008: MSI(ERROR): 'Error 2203. An internal error has occurred. (C:\Windows\Installer\4d6650a.ipi -2147287035 ) Contact Microsoft Product Support Services (PSS) for assistance. For information about how to contact PSS, see C:\Users\Marie\AppData\Local\Temp\Setup0000170c\PSS10R.CHM.'
4:31:53 PM Monday, December 29, 2008: Log level changed from: Standard to: Verbose
4:31:53 PM Monday, December 29, 2008: MSI(INFO): 'Action ended 16:31:52: InstallInitialize. Return value 3.'

As you can see, the “Return Value 3” above, highlighted in pink, comes 2 lines after the actual error line. So if you were looking for the cause of an error, in this case you can see that the problem comes from the first line shown. We are given an error (2203), a path (C:\Windows\Installer), a filename (4d6650a.ipi) and a return code (-2147287035). You could do a search on the internet on all of these to find possible solutions or you could copy and paste the three lines from the log file into a post on the forums so that a moderator or one of the support professionals can assist you further.

When No Return Value 3 is Found

If you do a search for “Return Value 3” in your log file and come up empty, don’t worry. On the log files I analyze, I don’t find return value 3 in about 50% of them. Here is what to do next.

Scroll down to the end of the log file. Usually there is some clue there at or near the end as to why the failure occurred. After the time and date stamp (for example 6:25:17 PM Friday, May 01, 2009) you will see words like “Info” and “Error”. Pay attention to the ones that say “Error” and make note of them. Here is an example of such a line from a log file:

6:25:17 PM Friday, May 01, 2009: Error: Config_Products_Install: Installation of Product Microsoft Expression Web 2 (failed): Installation of the "Microsoft Expression Web 2" product has reported the following error: The system cannot find the file specified. Stack: at XSetup.OfficePackage.ConfigureNewInstall(Product product) at XSetup.Product.ConfigureNewProduct()

The word “Error” is highlighted in pink. In this case it’s best to search the internet for the text that follows “Installation of the <Product Name> product has reported the following error:” to see what you can find.

There are also times when a log file just cuts off mid-stream and ends with no error or explanation. Here’s an example of the end of one such log:

12:08:47 PM Wednesday, October 22, 2008: Info: Successfully downloaded the file file:///c:/6fe06f08b88fff90dbc132963ca7c04e/Setup/ to C:\Documents and Settings\Owner\Local Settings\Temp\XSetup_Web_2008_10_22_12_4_59\438d1ac8_d88e_46eb_ba69_11fef34cce74\
12:10:27 PM Wednesday, October 22, 2008: Info: Successfully downloaded the file file:///c:/6fe06f08b88fff90dbc132963ca7c04e/Setup/ to C:\Documents and Settings\Owner\Local Settings\Temp\XSetup_Web_2008_10_22_12_4_59\438d1ac8_d88e_46eb_ba69_11fef34cce74\
12:22:57 PM Wednesday, October 22, 2008: Info: Config_Products_InstallNew: Begin installation of new product: Microsoft Expression Web 2

That last line was the end of the log file. That’s because the installation crashed with an exception error. In those cases the very last line of the log may be of some help. In the case of this log, it isn’t because all it’s doing is telling us that the installation of Expression Web 2 is beginning and then – Crash! However, when an exception is generated it is important to get most of the information contained in the exception dialog, if you can. If you see a “Show problem details” arrow on the exception dialog, click that and then copy and paste the text you see in the window to a notepad file. You can then copy and paste to a forum posting or an email when requested by someone.

Hopefully this blog post will be of some help in troubleshooting Expression Design installation problems and at the very least gathering a log file that you can send to us on the forums. But if you have a Design Installation issue that you need help with please post on the Microsoft Expression Design forums.

- Will Buffington