What is WIDA?
Our state has implemented a new system for measuring our ELL (English Language Learner) student’s progress. This system is called ACCESS for ELL and was designed by WIDA and delivered through a service managed by Data Recognition Corp.
There are quite a few moving parts to administering this exam, but my primary concern was deploying close to 100 content and response caching servers provided only with their admin portal and an .EXE installer.
My first steps were to learn a little more about what I was installing and what/how it functioned. This usually means a trip to one of my virtual machines to fire up the installer and see what I can learn and if there are any baked in install switches I can make use of.
I navigated to the installer from inside a command window and tried the handy “/?” switch which seemed to just fire up the traditional install sequence, but then I was greeted with a wonderful sight:
Success! From this window I learned that 1) I could do some type of silent install and that 2) I would need to provide a response file using the -varfile option. However, that presented a new challenge… what in the heck goes in said response file?
Luckily the splash screen that popped up before seeing the setup options included a handy bit that it was an “installer4j” installer. Thanks to the power of the Google, I was able to find their command line help for general installers.
They (ej-technologies) were even kind enough to have a detailed help page surrounding their response files which had this wonderful nugget of information:
A response file is generated automatically after an installation is finished. The generated response file is found in the .install4j directory inside the installation directory and is named response.varfile.
This meant that I could simply complete the manual install, once, and I would be provided with a response file that contained all of my choices from the install which I could then re-use on the subsequent 99 machines.
Grabbing said file when I was done, I was pleased with all of the options contained within the file except for one: It contained the VM’s hostname. Simply removing that line from the .varfile seemed to take care of this issue nicely.
Of course I wasn’t going to hand install 100 Servers, so I passed this task along to SCCM. I’ve had great success deploying .exe’s using a method similar to the one mentioned here: http://www.gerryhampsoncm.blogspot.ie/2013/03/sccm-2012-sp1-step-by-step-guide-part_20.html
Note, for WIDA here are the install options I have set in SCCM as well as a manual option if you’re so inclined:
\\<PATH_TO_WIDA_TSM_INSTALL>\TESTING_SITE_MANAGER_Setup.exe -q -varfile \\<PATH_TO_RESPONSE_FILE>\response.varfile