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Building Windows Installers In The Cloud

With pythonpackages.com, I want to solve real problems for people today. So here's a proof of concept for building Windows installers quickly and easily "in the cloud" (i.e. without a Windows machine local). This article is mostly about the back end, as the front end is already documented.

TL;DR: We're moving from proof-of-concept phase to useful-service phase. If you find the demo interesting and want to help build something great, please consider purchasing one of our current plans.

Step 1: To The Clouds

For the purpose of the demo, I booted up a Windows server on Rackspace Cloud and started installing things. On the short list of things to install was:

  • Python 2.7 from python.org.
  • GitHub for Windows from github.com (mainly for git.)
  • pythonpackages.com from bitbucket.org (free private repos!)
  • Microsoft compiler (free version, make sure to use the same one used to compile Python.)
  • Redis for Windows (Hell froze over, you can find this in Microsoft's GitHub account: https://github.com/MSOpenTech/Redis.)
  • Vim.exe (which I copy to vi.exe because I hate typing vim.)

Once I had all these things in place, I was able to:

  • Install pythonpackages.com (pip install -r requirements.txt.)
  • Compile and run Redis (Several projects bundled together in Visual Studio is apparently called a "solution", how quaint!)
  • Start the site.
  • Start testing.

Step 2: Fix all the bugs

This step involved a lot of cursing:

  • Backslashes.
  • Lack of vi key bindings.
  • Other Windows-isms.

But I also praised my CoRD Remote Desktop Client because it worked awesome. Anyway, the bugs/issues I fixed (and didn't fix) were roughly:

  • Create new application on GitHub and configured keys accordingly.
  • Switch Stripe keys to testing.
  • Fix Python paths and other trivial changes, so the application can run `python setup.py bdist_wininst`.
  • JavaScript is completely broken for some reason I've yet to determine (haven't looked yet, but guessing Windows path related).

Step 3: Profit!

I have to admit: I was giddy when it started working, and I was able to create a Windows Installer for Pillow (Python Imaging Library fork). I was even happier when I ran the installer and it worked. That's it. Next I hope to get some customers so I can keep the Windows box running, and make it available to the public.

Big Picture

In case you are interested, the roadmap for beta Q3 is here. I will also mention that I recently used Dia (<3) to create this info-graphic, in hopes of better communicating what I'm trying to build. Check it out!

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