InnoSetup Is Most Excellent

For a couple months back in 2003 I had a full-time job doing nothing but building InstallShield installers.  It was a pretty arduous process even for simple applications.

I wanted to build an installer for the Basternae Editor, which is a very simple program in that it doesn’t need any registry entries, license keys, services, or database objects.  It’s just data files and an executable.

This means that I really didn’t want to fire up my ancient (2003) copy of InstallShield to build an installer.  Instead I decided to give InnoSetup another chance.  I had tried it back when it was “brand spankin’ new” and didn’t really care for it, but that was a very very long time ago (before 2003).

I downloaded Inno Setup 5 and within minutes I was building an installer for the Basternae Editor.  I just ran through the wizard, added my files and executables, and fired it up.

Well, things were a little off on the first try — I wanted to run my app from the /bin directory and not the root program install directory.  Easy enough, the paths were right in front of me and I changed “{app}” to “{app}\bin” where it needed to be changed.

Next I found that it wasn’t using the executable’s directory as the working directory.  Yet again this was easy — I just added WorkingDir: “{app}\bin” to the icon setting and I’m good to go.  Total time spent building the installer, including Google searches and test install/uninstalls was about half an hour.  Nice.

The true test is whether it’s easy to maintain an install script.  I made a new build of the Basternae Editor today and wanted to update the installer.  The editor had no functional changes, just icons added to the menu so it’s a little clearer what button does what.

So I fire up InnoSetup, change the version at the top of the script from 0.39 to 0.40, hit “compile” and let it do its magic.  Seconds later I have a working install.  The best part is that this install cleanly installs over the top of an existing install, updates the listing in add/remove programs, and is COMPLETELY HASSLE FREE, a concept that was pretty alien to me given my InstallShield and WISE Installer experience.

So, here’s the new build of the Basternae Editor: