In my short happy life as a software developer (no pun on
Hemingway intended) one of the glaring deficiencies I have noted is that
the majority of developers have little experience - and sometimes none
at all - in producing installation packages that enable administrators
and end users alike to professionally install the very product that they
Visual Studio 6.0 offered a reasonable installation project package, but
it was really only available to Visual Basic, and it wasn't totally integrated
into the IDE. That is to say, you couldn't add an Installation project
to a solution and expect it to keep pace with the evolution of the project. You
had to do it as an add-in , or run it separately.
Visual Studio.NET offers a more robust project type that does indeed integrate
into the IDE solution. It's a big step forward, but those familiar to the
Microsoft policy line will know that it only offers the most basic of features
- the MS gurus traditionally preferring to farm out (and hopefully support)
such efforts to third party vendors such as Installshield and Wise.
At present, both Installshield and Wise offer products that
integrate into the Visual Studio.NET IDE. Personally, I can't speak for
products because I made the decision to stick with Wise a few years ago
and I've been very satisfied with the performance of their line of products. And
I've learned that it's more productive to become competent in one product
line or vendor rather than attempt to know something about everything.
Integrates with VS.NET IDE
One thing I can say for certain is that the Wise people have enjoyed a
close working relationship with Microsoft for a number of years, and they
have tremendous product support. The new Wise product for .NET 2003 is
the only product in the marketplace that provides not only full IDE integration
but also support for Server, Mobile and Web Services applications using
the .NET framework. So your decision to invest in a single product
for your professional installation needs will pay off with the Wise offering.
As can be seen below, Wise creates its own project group
consisting of a choice of five types of installation modules. You simply
Add one of these to your in-process solution.
Automatic Solution Synchronization
The Wise installation project automatically stays synchronized with your
work on your main projects in the solution. You don't need to do anything!
Step - by Step installation creation
As can be seen above, the project itself has sections in
the left pane that enable you to step through the process of designing
your MSI installer by simply filling out (or changing the defaults that
are already filled in) in the various sections of your project.