Review: Advanced Installer

Advanced Installer 1.8
Craiova, Romania

Here's another tool for building MSI packages for installing software on Windows, with an innovative pricing model. If you just want the core features (installing files, setting registry keys, and setting environment variables), it's free; you can use it forever with Caphyon's blessing. To unlock the full set of supported MSI features, you need a professional license at $99. Finally, for a version with special smarts to install Java applications, you'll pay the full $149 price. You can try all three versions in a single 30-day trial download.

Advanced Installer in professional mode supports a respectable number of the capabilities of the Windows Installer:

  • File and folder installation
  • Registry key installation
  • Division of your application into features and components
  • Environment variables
  • Creating ODBC data sources
  • Creating file associations
  • Running custom actions
  • Installing services
  • Importing merge modules
  • Altering the user interface flow of setup

The authoring environment is extremely straightforward. It's got an XP-style shortcut bar to the left which gets you to the various sections, each of which takes you to controls to make settings. Embedded help tells you just what to do in each section. For example, when you go to the Services section, you get toolbar buttons for adding a service and controlling a service, and help telling you what to do, plus a treeview of the service operations that are already present. Some things can't be edited - notably, there's no way to rearrange the controls on the various dialogs, though you can customize them when that makes sense (for example, by specifying your own readme file).

When you're done setting things up, a single button click will build the MSI file, and another will let you test it out on your development machine. You won't find the capabilities of the high-end setup builders here, but for a basic MSI installation, it does the job and is cost-effective.

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy has been developing software for a quarter-century now, and writing about it for nearly as long. He walked away from a .NET development career in 2006 and has been a happy Rails user ever since. Mike blogs at A Fresh Cup.


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