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Author Topic: Choice of application installer?  (Read 4147 times)

sunlitlaz

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Choice of application installer?
« on: September 07, 2009, 12:11:24 AM »
Hi all, I am curious as to what everyone's opinion is regarding installation builders for the apps that you create.  I have done some searching through these forums and found a few ideas, but I thought I would directly ask what any/every one's pick is.  What is it that you use when you are ready to package that great application for the masses?  I'll start with my own experiences:

I work mostly with VB6 for Windows apps, so these are geared towards that.

  • Naturally I have used the package and deploy wizard in VB6, but it seems to have some issues, plus it isn't very customizable.
  • Purchased Installshield Express 11 a few years back and it worked pretty well, though it was a bit of a pain to work with.  Looked at upgrading to the latest version and it's along the lines of $599 which is a little steep for one guy that does this for fun in his spare time.
  • Have used the Visual Studio Installer that came out in the .NET VS releases and it shows promise, but still I think it would be nice to have something more rebust and customizable.
  • Am now trying the free version of Advanced Installer, and even though $249 for pro is a bit more than I'd like to pay, it looks like it is one heckuva install builder that can do darn near anything you want to with it.

That's where I am at now, anyone else want to put in their 2cp worth?

Thanks  :D  :Thmbsup:
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lanux128

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Re: Choice of application installer?
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2009, 12:22:03 AM »
as an end-user, i prefer mostly extractable zip installers. unless the installer package has some customised dll or activex stuff, zip installers mean i can extract the contents and run the .exe without needing to install it.

mouser

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Re: Choice of application installer?
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2009, 09:59:38 AM »
I use Inno Setup, with the ISTool script editor (download the ispack on this page).  It's not the most friendly thing to use, and it's not perfect, but it is free and flexible.

majoMO

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Re: Choice of application installer?
« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2009, 11:32:51 AM »
I use CreateInstall FREE. Easy-to-use and free.

There are payware versions also: CreateInstall Light and CreateInstall.

MilesAhead

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Re: Choice of application installer?
« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2009, 01:25:38 PM »
For small installs I'm with mouser.  You can also download ISSkin, which is a free skin library for Inno Setups. Plus, esp. if you know Pascal, the built-in scripting language lets you do lots of stuff to customize things.  For example, you can check the uninstall string for your application to know if it's already installed, offer to keep or delete registry settings when uninstalling etc..

One trick I used to like to include in my Tray applications was a small app killer that would check if the app is running, and if so, kill the app and then move the mouse over the Tray icons to get rid of the Tray Icon that hangs when an app is killed.  So many times people have a Tray app that starts with Windows, they forget it's running, and when they uninstall it gets an error.  This way I pass the name of the app to the app killer as part of the uninstall.  The Tray app is killed before deletion is attempted.

Anyway, seemed pretty cool when I was doing it but more and more people just want to unzip as lanux128 said.  I wouldn't get into any of the elaborate database driven installers unless you have a large app with lots of components or can afford a tool that does all the grunt work for you.  The more moving parts the more stuff there is to break.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2009, 01:28:00 PM by MilesAhead »

sunlitlaz

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Re: Choice of application installer?
« Reply #5 on: September 07, 2009, 03:39:24 PM »
I agree that the standalone unzip and run approach is best, unfortunately, when working with VB you are pretty much out of luck for standalone apps unless there is some trick I am missing.  If I had my way I'd make all of my apps standalone.

Thanks for the feedback everyone  :D
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MilesAhead

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Re: Choice of application installer?
« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2009, 05:14:16 PM »
I agree that the standalone unzip and run approach is best, unfortunately, when working with VB you are pretty much out of luck for standalone apps unless there is some trick I am missing.  If I had my way I'd make all of my apps standalone.

Thanks for the feedback everyone  :D

VB has some baggage, but also some things easier.  Like I spent a lot of time developing a dependable "single instance" component, whereas in VB you check an option.  For ActiveX installs Inno Setup is pretty easy.  You just have to add a 'regserver' attribute to the .ocx or .dll file line and it handles registration on install and unregister on uninstall for you. Plus it has been around awhile and has its own nntp newsgroup for user-provided help.

edit: btw look around the web if you decide to try Inno Setup because I'm pretty sure I've seen tools for it that are designed for VB support.  I wouldn't be surprised if there were VB specific script generators or guis for it.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2009, 10:12:59 PM by MilesAhead »

Eóin

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Re: Choice of application installer?
« Reply #7 on: September 07, 2009, 05:35:45 PM »
It's difficult to use but I always recommend WiX. Worth looking into as it's free, and there is an actively developed GUI, WixEdit.

kwacky1

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Re: Choice of application installer?
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2009, 06:19:34 AM »
I have to second Eóin here.

My background is in application repacking with Wise Package Studio, so Windows Installer just makes sense to me.  So when it came time to create packages for my own software I couldn't go past WiX, and I recently discovered WiXEdit and it's got a lot of promise.

But I also have to agree with lanux, for simple stuff (ie. CrazyLittleFingers) you can't go past a good ol' zip.

JavaJones

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Re: Choice of application installer?
« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2009, 04:04:09 PM »
I'm not a dev so I can't vouch for it, but don't forget NSIS - the Nullsoft Scriptable Install System: http://sourceforge.net/projects/nsis/
Open source.

- Oshyan