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Old 13th April 2007, 19:02   #21
Junior Member
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 1
So you know where I'm coming from, I was using InstallShield for about 6 months. I wrote about 20 different installers with it and eventually got fed up with its awful support for what I considered simple custom tasks. When I eventually figured out how to do some of what I wanted, I still faced problems with InstallShield's flaky behavior.

I was determined to find a replacement for InstallShield, so I looked at WISE. It was also a disappointing experience for me as the IDE itself liked to crash on me from time to time as many others have reported. I tried a few other installers and eventually came to NSIS. At first I was skeptical for many of the same reasons. I figured that a free open-source installer like this couldn't possibly compete with the likes of InstallShield and WISE which seem to be regarded as industry standards for some reason.

The thing is, using NSIS is a COMPLETELY different experience from InstallShield and WISE because absolutely everything is done through scripting which can seem like a daunting task at first. But I used the HM NIS Edit tool to build my first NSIS installer. The wizard took me through the basic steps of creating my first installer, and it wrote the code I needed to get started. The code was a little weird at first but I'm a programmer so I got the hang of it eventually. Furthermore, I found the user-submitted code examples and tutorials very helpful.

I was able to do EVERYTHING I wanted with NSIS. I've been using it on a fairly large scale now for the past 2 years. And I've had absolutely no complaints with flaky behavior from thousands of users now. In the latest release of our completely rewritten software I made the installer first automatically detect if Windows Installer 3.1 is installed, and then download & install it if necessary. Then it'll check if .NET 2.0 (or later) is installed on the machine and download it from Microsoft if it's not. It will also perform a CRC check to ensure the installer itself is not corrupt, assign appropriate file associations for the software, and check if the logged in user has administrative privileges. All of this works perfectly.

On top of that, the final executable NSIS produces is much smaller than an equivalent InstallShield exe. And an NSIS installer performs the installation MUCH faster than InstallShield as well.

So for me it was a no brainer. Once I got over the initial learning curve of NSIS I never looked back. I highly recommend it for any programmer who wants to build good Windows Installer packages for their software.
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