Microsoft KB Archive/255905

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HOWTO: Use the Orca Database Editor to Edit Windows Installer Files


The information in this article applies to:

  • Microsoft Windows Installer, versions 1.0, 1.1


Due to limitations in the existing Windows Installer tools, you may need to edit the Windows Installer package (.msi) files directly. The Orca database editor is a table-editing tool available in the Windows Installer SDK and it can be used to edit your .msi files. The Orca editor edits and creates merge module (.msm) files , Internal Consistency Evaluator (.cub) files, and patch creation files (.pcp). This article discusses how to use the Orca editor to modify your .msi files.


WARNING: Editing an MSI file can cause serious problems that may leave your system in an unstable state. Microsoft cannot guarantee that problems resulting from the incorrect use of the MSI file editor can be solved. Modifications of the MSI file of a shipping product should only be attempted under direct instruction from the product's vendor.


To install and run the Orca editor, perform the following steps:

  1. Download the Windows Installer SDK samples, tools, and documentation from the following Web page:
  2. Install the Orca editor by double-clicking the Orca.msi file in the \MsiIntel.SDK\Tools directory.
  3. Click Start, point to Programs, and then click Orca.
  4. From the File menu, click Open, and then browse to the .msi file that you want to edit.


The tables in the .msi file are listed in the left windowpane. Select the table to edit. The fields of the table appear at the top of the right windowpane. These fields can be expanded and collapsed.

To add standard tables that do not appear, go to the Tables menu, and then select Add Table. To remove a table, select Drop Table from the Tables menu. A table must be selected for the Drop Table option to appear on the menu.

The Export Tables and Import Tables options are located on the Tables menu. The Export Tables option exports a table to a text format that can be edited with a text editor, such as Notepad. The exported table has a .idt extension. These IDT tables are imported back into the Orca editor by using the Import Tables action.


To add a row to a table, select Add Row from the Tables menu. A dialog box appears with the fields of the selected table. Fields with a gold key beside them are the primary keys for that table. The field name is indicated above the edit box, followed by the field type. If the word "Required" follows the field type, this field is required and the row cannot be added until there is a value in this field.

To remove a row, highlight the row from the table, and then select Drop Row from the Tables menu.

To edit an existing field in a row, double-click inside the field that you want to edit.


Validation runs from within the Orca editor when you select Validate... from the Tools menu. If you are using the Orca editor that is included in the latest Windows Installer SDK, there is a drop-down list of the available evaluation files that you can run.

To validate a file:

Select an available evaluation file suite from the drop-down menu in the Orca editor of the latest Windows Installer SDK.

  • Select Full MSI Validation Suite to validate a MSI file with all of the available validators.
  • Select Windows 2000 Logo Program Suite to run a subset of the validators that are used for logo certification.
  • Select Merge Module Validation Suite to validate an MSM file.

Clear the Show "INFO" messages check box to avoid informational messages which do not indicate a problem with the database.

Click Go.

After validation is complete, you can copy the results to a text editor for viewing.


If the open .msi file in the Orca editor contains dialog boxes for the user interface, preview these dialog boxes by using the Dialog Preview... option on the Tools menu. You must use the appropriate tables for editing the dialog boxes.


To edit the summary information, select Summary Information... from the View menu.

NOTE: The ProductID field is the package code for the .msi file, not the product code. The product code is stored in the Property table in the ProductCode property. If you save the .msi file in the Orca editor, the package code is not automatically changed. This change must be done manually.


All information about the specific tables or fields in a .msi file is located in the Windows Installer Help file (Msi.chm). The help file is installed in the MsiIntel.SDK\Help directory when the Windows Installer SDK is installed. The standard tables information is at the following location in the help file:

Installer Database\Installer Database Reference\Database Tables.

Additional query words:

Keywords : kbAppSetup kbMSI _IK kbMSI100 kbMSI110
Issue type : kbhowto
Technology : kbWinISearch kbWinI100

Last Reviewed: December 13, 2000
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