InstallShield has long been a heavyweight in the installation tools category and with this release, they are adamant to hold on to their status as the market leader.

InstallShield X is the latest release of the popular toolset that can be used to develop installation packages to deploy applications across a number of dissimilar platforms, including Windows, Linux, Mac and mobile devices (Palm, PocketPC, etc.) InstallShield is probably all-time known to Windows developers who needed to create setups for their applications, but in recent years has gained the respect of other platform developers as well.

In this release, InstallShield adds a number of features that brand it a more comprehensive toolset for developers, regardless of platform. This “one tool for them all” approach means that you can now develop installation and setup programs for all of the supported platforms (Windows, Linux, etc.) without having to utilize multiple toolsets.

The IDE environs itself, shown below in
Figure 1, has been streamlined in this release and then that common tasks are easy to reach and even newbies should be able to find their way around.

Effigy one
The InstallShield X environment

This has been a common blueprint goal with a number of products we have reviewed recently, where the vendor has realised that developers demand to come up to speed quickly with third-party tools. InstallShield executes this goal meliorate than most others, every bit everything you need to go started is in front of you and y’all don’t need to get searching for how to get started with the product.

For creating a new projection, InstallShield X offers a plethora of options, depending on the blazon of application and target platform and once you have created a project, the “project assistant” takes over and will walk you through the steps required to successfully create your installation package.

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Effigy 2
Choosing your installation blazon

The assistant itself is fairly comprehensive and the progress bar at the bottom of the folio is handy for jumping betwixt installation steps while maintaining the “big picture” of what your installation or setup program will entail.

Another enhancement in this release is the introduction of installation prerequisites that you tin can use to determine if a software or operating system component is required before your programme will work. By default in that location are a number of a pre-requisites already defined (i.e. Windows XP, Internet Explorer 6.0, etc.) that you can employ to check before you install your own program.

Alternately, you tin as well use an editor to define your ain custom prerequisite. This is peculiarly handy for developers who create applications that are dependent on underlying technology—for example, if you lot had an Oracle application that required the Oracle database client to exist installed, you could bank check for this earlier installing your own software application.

For most bones installations, yous won’t need to leave the assistant as it has the most commonly used features. You can build a professional-quality installation package in but a few curt steps, which tin can include features that will allow the user to select which components are installed, where they are installed, etc.

One of the last steps that the banana volition guide you through is building your installation. With InstallShield, you have a number of options depending on the project, for whether yous want to create an executable, Internet distribution or CD-ROM for installation.

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Figure 3
Building your installation

The Internet distribution selection will build all of the required setup files and an HTML page that users can visit to install your application. This functionality is provided through InstallShield’s “One-Click Install” engineering science and if you are considering deploying your application through an Internet or intranet site, this characteristic is definitely worth the upgrade and a sign of things to come up from other vendors.

Figure 4
The internet installation feature

If you lot choose to become the erstwhile-fashioned route and build an executable to perform the setup or distribute the setup on a CD, there are a number of new or enhanced features for you too, including support for native UNIX installation launchers, which can be used to outset a shell-based installation procedure.

And did we mention platform support here? Afterward yous start excavation into the product yous realise just how far InstallShield has extended the platform, with the ability to target applications to Windows, MAC, Linux, Unix, Bone/400 and even 64-bit platforms.

For extended your installations, InstallShield supports “InstallScript” which volition allow yous to write snippets of code to support your installation and perform custom tasks that are not necessarily part of the product already. Having scripting built-in means that you aren’t limited by the features that are within the product—you can use the scripting language and the 276+ functions to build any custom functionality that you require.

And for all of those Windows developers who are use InstallShield primarily as a method of deploying their Visual Studio and Visual Studio.Net applications, there is definitely something in this release to proceed them happy.

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InstallShield has new and improved support for SQL Server and IIS, making it a snap to deploy applications that apply both of these technologies. Yous can run SQL scripts every bit part of your installation and the setup features for IIS mean that yous can deploy web services, create new web sites, etc. This makes InstallShield a real contender for automating deployment of enterprise web applications and spider web services integration should brand these types of projects more deployable.

Then if you are developing applications that you need to deploy to a broad range of platforms and devices, Installshield should definitely be on your “must see” list. With a host of new and improved features targeted at Windows and Visual Studio developers, Installshield raises the standard for installation and setup evolution.

Architect AU rating:

– 4/5

InstallShield Ten



Pentium Three-course PC (500 MHz or higher recommended), 256 MB of RAM (512 MB preferred) 500 MB disk space required (including redistributable code)

Designed for XGA resolution at 1024 ten 768 or higher, Windows 98, Windows Me, Windows NT 4.0 with Service Pack half dozen installed, Windows 2000, Windows XP, or Windows Server 2003, Microsoft Internet Explorer five.01 (IE 5.5 or higher recommended), administrative privileges on the system, Microsoft IntelliMouse or other compatible pointing device