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The InstallShield development team is #2 on my list of "Those-put-against-the-wall-when-the-revolution-comes" (*). The last time I tried to use it, it was a bloated pig that would not, out of the box, create an installer for even a single EXE. You had to manually edit the MSI files it created to make them work. I spent three weeks trying to create an installer for our product using it. We had purchased the 'international' version, which was supposed to support localized installers for European and Far Eastern languages. When I discovered that we also had to spend $500 per language, we abandoned it. I replicated all of our work to that point using Inno Setup[^] in less than a single day.
(*) The number #1 spot, of course, is occupied by the Lotus Notes team.
We have been using InstallShield for a dozen years now starting with the Express 3.5 and moving to the Premier 11.5. I feel your pain! I had to make modifications to a few of our installations earlier this month. After a bit of , , and , I searched for alternatives and found this http://www.techsupportalert.com/content/best-free-setup-builder.htm[^]. I haven't had the time to try any of them yet, so can't recommend any. Our biggest obstacle would be the bundled components. (merge modules)
Believe me, I've looked at alternatives. There are a few good ones (most mentioned by others here), but our clients insist on using InstallShield. Their main reason is probably because it can do everything (provided you can figure out how)
I think you should never try to do anything fancy in the installer. Use whatever (including the one built into Visual Studio) installation building software you want to create a trivial installer, then launch a configuration exe. That way, you can use C# to write a simple application for managing the configuration settings of your app. Launch it at the end of the installation, and let your users run it any time they want to modify the configuration settings. Way better than trying to do it in the brain dead installer.