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mrSnrub
Level 2

Advantage of installshield vs custom installer

I may have come to the wrong place to ask this, but here it is anyway...

I have some very simple installation tasks and I'm wondering if there's any reason to use installshield when I could just open up visual studio and create a quick windows or console app to do the job (probably). The tasks are:

  • Create a start menu shortcut
  • Copy and register a DLL
  • Create a DSN

That's it. Do I really need installshield to do this? What are the advantages? I assume installshield, at the end of the day, just compiles everything into it's own exe a lot like what would come out of visual studio, but with some predefined gui stuff, only I have no idea how to use installshield.
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MSIYER
Level 8

Installation is a tricky business. You can use various methods of installation wherein:
a) You use the OS APIs and install your application
b) You use a software that abstracts the step a) and provides you a framework which you can use to accomplish the task. There are softwares like Nullsoft NSIS, Installshield's Installscript etc that do this.
c) Use Windows Installer technology which is much more than a simple framework. Will do all that you want and much more...

I have some very simple installation tasks and I'm wondering if there's any reason to use installshield when I could just open up visual studio and create a quick windows or console app to do the job (probably)

You do not need Installshield or any other software for the prupose. You can simply write an exe, use system APIs and go ahead. But that is not the way.

I assume installshield, at the end of the day, just compiles everything into it's own exe a lot like what would come out of visual studio, but with some predefined gui stuff, only I have no idea how to use installshield.

This is a wrong assumption. You need to understand installation and the issues involved therein to fully appreciate the work a setup developer does. Various installation techniques exists. And its not simply xcopy.
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Kelter
Level 10

By using installshield (or admittedly any msi based tool) to write your installation you get the repair, modify, and upgrade logic. If properly written, and your build process is optimized, then you can release tiny patch packages. A vdproj in visual studio creates a real psi package but you have almost no control over it without using orca or something after.

Remember, some setup.exe just extracts an msi and the support files, and then installs prereqs before passing the msi file to msiexec. If you write a conforming installation, msiexec knows how to install, upgrade, patch, and remove your product. This is valuable.
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