Installshield Limited in Visual Studio 2012 Professional

Microsoft decided to drop the ability to create simple setup installers in 2012 but they worked with Flexera to allow us to use Installshield Limited to create our installers.

Below are the step required to create a simple installer.  It should give you an idea how to create an installer for your VS 2012 program.

Notes:

  1. First, you need to make sure that all DevExpress libraries (and other custom references) in your program are set to CopyLocal — this will have the build system copy the libraries to binDebug (or binRelease) so you can include them in the InstallShield project.  Also be sure to build your app before creating the installer.
  2. Second, I’ve been creating entirely new solutions for each installer in a separate directory.  This eliminates the problems 2012 has with opening the old installer types (and may prevent future problems with bundling).  It also makes the build process much faster on the program you are creating.

Creating a new installer:

  1. Create a new InstallShield Limited Edition project for the installer (in ProjectsVB.NetInstallers)
  2. Application Information
    1. Set the default installation location if you don’t want the program to be installed in Program Files
      1. In the Application Information sidebar, click Edit the default installation location
      2. Right-click Destination Computer (or press INS key) and choose New Directory; name it C:
      3. Right-click the new C: directory (or press INS key) and choose New Directory; name it YourSubFolder (obviously change it and repeat as necessary to create your desired directory structure)
      4. Right-click new YourSubFolder directory (or press INS key) and choose New Directory; use the name of your project
    2. Specify company name: YourCompanyName
    3. Specify application name: YourAppName
    4. Specify application version: YourAppVersion
    5. Specify company website: YourWebsite
    6. Change the icon to your project’s icon (if desired)
  3. Installation Requirements
    1. App does not require specific operating system
    2. App requires .Net 4.0 Client Profile (but I do not include it in the installer — see Problems below).
  4. Application Files
    1. Click on the C:YourSubFolderYourAppName folder.
    2. Press Add Files button and go to your App’s bin/Debug (or bin/Release) folder and add all exe/dll/config files.
  5. Application Shortcuts
    1. Modify the name of the Start Menu shortcut  (if desired)
  6. Application Registry
    1. Add registry keys if your App requires them.  Use the INS key to add new keys and values (or right-click)
  7. Installation Interview
    1. Do not display License Agreement
    2. Do not prompt for Company/User name
    3. Allow modification of installation location
    4. Do not launch application when the install completes
  8. Organize Your Setup, General Information
    1. Set Use Software Identification Tag to No.
  9. Prepare for Release, Release
    1. Click on “Express” and set Setup File Name to YourAppName Setup
  1. Right-click on the Solution and choose Properties
    1. In Configuration Properties/Configuration, set your project to SingleImage.
  2. Build the project
  3. Verify the project installer name
    1. In Prepare for Release, Release, Builds/Express/SingleImage/Disk Image(s)/DISK1: check file name

Problems:

  1. I have not yet been able to include the .Net packages in the installer.  The downloads from within the Installshield project always fails.  Update: you have to run Visual Studio as Administrator (right-click, “Run as Administrator”) in order for the installer packages to download.  This should be a one-time thing; just run as admin once to download all of the redist files you need and then open your project normally (without admin) to work on your project.
  2. I had to disable Use Software Identification Tag or it would give me an error upon building.  The installer creates correctly without it and will install the project with no problems.  When I get some more time I’ll look into this further.

7 comments on “Installshield Limited in Visual Studio 2012 Professional

  1. For web based applications, for some reason, I am facing with rollback issues right after when all binaries are copied to virtual directory and installer tries to create application to IIS. Any idea?

    one was, that if your are using tfs and config files are not checked out (readonly flag is not true for this file) then installer cannot link iis config files with web.config of your app.
    But … it solves only few scenarios, rollback is time to time triggered again

    • I haven’t noticed that problem yet but I’ll look into it. I have to create a new installer for a Windows Service so we’ll see if that one also causes problems.

  2. I would like to make setup file using Installshield .Here is my requirement is different.

    My project includes Windows Service and while installation using Installshield wizard I would like to ask user to give credentials to run windows service under. Also, there are few project settings to be set while installation. How do I achieve that? Any ideas? I have limited edition of Installshield which come with VS 2013.

    • It looks like Flexera doesn’t allow custom dialog boxes in the Limited Edition; so far I haven’t found a way around that limitation. You might be able to do that using Wix but I don’t have much experience with that system. If you have non-Express version of Visual Studio 2013 take a look at the extension I linked previously; it allows you to create custom dialogs.

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