Less MSIèrables – Extract the content of a .MSI file

Yesterday, I decided to spent some time reviewing the WindowsLiveWriter plugin gallery and search for a replacer for Steve Dunn CodeFormatter plugin. I’ve been using this plugin since the beginning of the year but it reveal some problems composing the Html.

My friend Paulo told me about Douglas Stockwell “Paste from Visual Studio” plugin and I decided to try this one.

I download the vspaste.msi and tried to install it without success. As far as I understood (I didn’t take this to depth) the .MSI was looking for a specific registry entry and since I’m using the portable version of WLW the key wasn’t found.

I knew that WLW plugins don’t required any special install procedure, they just need to be in the plugins folder.

I decided then to extract the .MSI content in order to be able to copy the assembly to the correct folder in my flash drive.

Searching the web I found a little tool called “Less MSIèrables” that exactly feets my needs.

It’s a free tool written in C# for .NET 1.1 that allow us to open an .MSI file, explore its contents, and extract selected items.


We can also run it from the command line.

Its not perfect and I found a few possible improvements:

  • GUI – adding Drag’n’Drop capability
  • GUI – adding a select/unselect all files checkbox
  • CPI – adding a -l option to list all files within a .MSI file
  • CPI – adding a -e option to extract a list of files

The good news is that author made the source code available, so anyone can extend the tool.

In conclusion, it’s free, it’s cool and I think I going use it many times in future, helping me to see if I really need to install a .MSI.

For those of you that prefer not to use free tools, Microsoft provides us with msiexec.exe tool. This one is available in Windows XP and higher and also allow us to extract .MSI files using the following syntax:

msiexec.exe /a vspaste.msi /qb TARGETDIR=c:temp

BitDiffer – Doing Assembly Differences

Two weeks ago, Paulo posted about “The Architecture Tool Space Keeps Growing“. On this post, Paulo talked about new tools and the continuous improvements in the existing ones.

Well, more recently I read this Scott Hanselman post. Here, Scott talk, apart several other things, about tools for doing Assembly Differences and between them there are new one called BitDiffer.

In the Scott tests, this tool crashed 🙁

Today, I took some time and install the BitDiffer version so I can explore a little.


Here are my thoughts:


  • Simple but yet complete UI
  • Fast – it took only a 3-5 seconds to compare two versions.
  • Includes a Command Line version


  • Exports only to HTML / XML format
  • Drag-And-Drop still not working
  • It’s not free

Final note

BitDiffer is very similar to Framework Design Studio in functionality but when coming to usability I think it’s more intuitive (even without the Drag-And-Drop).

If Gref Ennis add support for Drag-And-Drop and side-by-side comparing code changes, then I will definitely consider to buy it.