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I've used both Installshield and Wise and found both quite hard to deal with.
Now I use Nullsoft's installer. It does everything I need, for free. Only problem is that you have to create a script, it doesn't have a real UI, but I don't care much about that.
For .NET projects, I use WiX which integrates perfectly with Visual Studio.
Anything that is unrelated to elephants is irrelephant Anonymous - The problem with quotes on the internet is that you can never tell if they're genuine Winston Churchill, 1944 - Never argue with a fool. Onlookers may not be able to tell the difference. Mark Twain
Years ago I tried InstallShield but found it very difficult to work with. Then I discovered Wix. (German members may stop sniggering now.) It integrates well into Visual Studio, is free and easy to use.
Wix integrates into Visual Studio. Haven't used it recently, but a couple of years ago, as far as I can remember, you added a Wix project to your solution. In the Wix project you defined your install needs in a xml fie. When you build the solution, the Wix project produces the installer for you. At least, that is how I remember it.
The 2019 version of Wix may be slightly more involved than this.
Don't use that phrasing when talking with Linux affectionados! As if a command line interface is not a "user interface"
You still edit the .wxs file (the main input file, identifying files and components and all the other stuff describing which pieces to put together in which way, and other red tape such as which user dialog style to user, product IDs etc.) in a textual format (XML), but all the rest is usually handled well by Visual Studio. You don't have to care about that crowd of individual Wix tools; when you build your solution, VS will take care of the building steps of Wix as well. There is no sort of graphic interface for putting your system together like with Lego blocks (if that is what you were hoping for).
I was an active Wix user several years ago, subscribing to the mailing lists and eagerly reading the blogs of the developers (at WiX Toolset[^]).
I see only two issues with WiX: First, it has got (almost) all the functionality you could dream of, but does it really have to be that complex? You've got two options, either the very naive, simplistic use where VS handles everything for you, or you have to accept the full complexity with a crowd of individual tools and a hundred call line options, "Linux style" in the worst possible sense. You just got to keep that 450 page book handy at all times... (and be aware in which parts the book is outdated).
Second, and this is a non-issue if you think it is perfectly OK to fill up your machine with all sorts of obsolete software. Between three and four years ago, I did a major cleanup of about twenty build agents, installing only tools in actual use, updating tools to new versions, to clean out .NET 2.x and 3.x (and a lot of other obsolete stuff). WiX 3.x requires .NET 3.x, which pulls 2.x along, so we decided to go for WiX 4, based on .NET 4, even though it was not yet released, and no VS integration was available. Sure, WiX 4 itself does not need obsolete .NET versions, but the installer package for WiX 4 itself (probably made with WiX 3) needs it! The WiX development team didn't believe me when I reported this, not until I mailed a full log from everything from Windows reinstallation on a newly formatted disk to the WiX installer complaints.
So I was promised a new release that would fix this. It didn't. Nor did the second attempt. Then I gave up, accepted that I had to maintain a .NET version released in 2006 for a single reason: To install WiX. Then we might as well use WiX 3, first released in 2009 (the Windows XP days), to keeping the VS integration intact, while waiting for WiX 4.
Six years after WiX 4 development started, it still is in the "real soon now" stage - but you can no longer download any pre-release from the web site. It states "WiX Toolset v4.x reference manual (coming soon)", but who would trust that after six years of ... nothing useful. The WiX blog of the main developer, Rob Mensching, has had a single entry for more than a year, where he states: "Completing WiX v4 is at the top of my list." Yeah, I guess that is true, but it no longer matters to me. I'm no longer waiting for Godot. I consider WiX dead software, just like .NET 2.x - you have to keep it on your machine because someone needs it.
Maybe WiX 4 will come one day, 12-15 years after WiX 3 was released. In that time span, software development has changed so much that I expect WiX 4 to be like a completely new product, not a simple version upgrade. It is guaranteed to have incompatibilities, and many fancy new possibilities that it takes a lot of resources to learn to use. Switching to WiX 4 must be judged against switching to any other installer generator - at some time into the future when it arrives. You can't even read the documentation for it today.
So, go ahead and used WiX 3.11 (the current stable version) with VS integration. But consider it stale software, dead, with no bright future ahead. If any WiX has a future, it is WiX 4. But that's another, future product that is not available today.
Rule #1 of using third party packages.
1. You must make it work with what is currently supported
2. Never trust anyone else's "ship date"
Flashback to a module I used during the 16bit to 32bit transitions.
I had to write a 16bit service to process requests from 32bit applications.
It seemed backwards to me, but that was the only way the APIs would let you do it.
The promised 32bit version never shipped over a 1 year span of promises!
Maybe it shipped after I left that position.
Thank goodness the 16bit Intel architecture is no longer relevant to Windows.
There are probably similar problems with 32bit and 64bit, but I have not had to dive into anything like that for a long time.
Yes, I have used it (and paid for it regrettably). Didn't like the product or the company. I settled on WiX Toolset, it takes a little extra effort to learn but your installer can then be pure "you" when you create your own bootstrapper.