In praise of Innosetup

by William Grosso

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One of the things I've been working on recently is a small shareware application. It's an interesting idea, and it's been a lot of fun to work on a small consumer application (especially since 90% of my career has been enterprise software, and the past 4 years have all been spent deep in the bowels of J2EE).

On the other hand, there are a lot of headaches involved in developing a Windows application. And a lot of my
J2EE knowledge is useless when dealing with them.

But Windows is also a friendlier place than I'd expected, for a wide variety of reasons (among them: The MSDN Web Site is an extraordinarily good developer site). Perhaps the nicest surprise is that there's a lot of free, and freely available, software to help out with secondary tasks.

For example: Innosetup.
It's a small program that builds installers. You supply some parameters by writing an install script, click 'run' and --boom-- there it is: a program named "setup.exe" that just works across all versions of windows.

Maybe I was out of the loop and maybe everyone already knows about Innosetup. But, if you don't, and you're building a Windows app on a shoestring, check it out. It's just nice.

What other freely available windows programs do you find useful for developing applications?