InstallShield Limited Edition

A recent client project brought me back into the world of Windows WPF applications. The task was to update some very old third party controls and to change Bing Map service calls to the Bing Maps REST API from the disappearing SOAP API.

Updating a six year old project

Naturally a new install program would be needed. The code I was given was in a Visual Studio 2010 Solution with a Visual Studio Installer (.vdproj). This installer type is no longer supported in Visual Studio 2015. There is a Visual Studio add in that supports this old format but I wanted an up to date solution. Since I had already spent significant client funds for software and hardware I decided to try the InstallShield Limited Edition that is licensed free with Visual Studio.

Free software - you get what you pay for

I was able to get an installer build that did work. However the interface is extremely clunky and you are never quite sure when the installer build is actually running. Files you add in by mistake cannot be removed from the build list, you have to uncheck the check box and hope you don’t check it later. A couple of times the InstallShield process killed Visual Studio and required a visit to the Task Mangler to kill the whole thing. The project had some large data files which took InstallShield an incredible amount of time to compress.

Due to the half hour required to build the installer, I uninstalled the installer project from the Visual Studio Solution until I needed to build a new installer. The very first time I attempted to reload the installer project in the solution, the InstallShield installer popped up and informed me that it needed to make changes to continue. I reluctantly gave it the OK. It churned away for a few minutes and then requested a reboot. After the reboot I tried again to reload the installer project. At this time Visual Studio informed me that this type of project is no longer supported and would not load it.

Changing to a better installer

I purchased Deploy Master for $99. It is from Just Great Software whose products I have enjoyed using for years. It took a couple of hours to learn the new program but it did the job superbly. You can easily make changes, it runs outside of Visual Studio, and the installer built in about five minutes versus the half hour with InstallShield. And as a bonus the resulting installer file uploads to web storage much more quickly since it is only 238MB versus 530MB.