So, in a former life, my title at a company was 'Configuration Engineer'. What that meant at that particular company was that I did the work that developers didn't want to do, i.e burning CDs/DVDs, Maintaining version control systems, and writing installers. Since writing installers at the time was painful, once I paid my dues in that position, I didn't want to write installers anymore. All of my software has been zip it up, and let the user unzip it. If I needed something done, I did it on first run.
I decided that for my latest effort, I wanted to get back into writing installers. I still have my old unzip it mentality and have a distribution just in a zip file, but I also wrote an installer. I looked at a few of the ones I remembered: NSIS (development stalled), Wise (discontinued), InstallAware (way too expensive), InstallShield (ditto)... I was about to go with Inno Setup, but then I saw WiX - Windows Installer XML. I was somewhat skeptical of an XML based installer system, but decided to try it.
After downloading and installing, I used a tutorial
. I didn't walk through using their sample, but instead tried my own software. It was a pain putting in entries for all of the files that I used manually. But, I have to admit, it was pretty straightforward. Within an hour, I had an installer- but no UI. Then I found out that adding the UI was pretty painless. The came the realization that it had installed into Visual studio- and I could create a project for it from the IDE. I was glad to have learned everything behind the compiler and linker- but that made it a lot easier.
I'd give WiX a thumbs up to anyone looking to make an installer- and a thumbs way up for anyone using Visual studio and needing to make an installer. It was straightforward, and just works!