InstallShield Tips and Tricks

Building installers for .NET applications

Building installers for .NET applications

If you are a Windows developers chances are high that you are developing an ASP.NET application or a standalone desktop application that leverages Microsoft .NET.  

When bundling a .NET app into an installer, InstallShield helps you with several tools and capabilities to ensure that the installation experience for your customers is seamless. Some of them are as follows: 

  • Ability to configure prerequisites for your application. You may want to bundle the exact .NET framework version along with your application. Prerequisites view in InstallShield makes this process friction free. Not only you get to choose from a huge list of out of the box prerequisites available from InstallShield, but also a free form Prerequisite editor in case you have the need to create your own. 

  • InstallShield also helps you with enabling or disabling Windows features as per the needs of your .NET application when compiling your installer. It could be enabling IIS (Internet Information Services) or PowerShell or .NET Framework 3.x or any other feature. This feature is available in the Suite/Advanced UI projects and more details can be found here

  • Microsoft has introduced Windows Package Manager for hosting and installing third party applications on Windows OS. InstallShield makes it easy by installing any available package from Windows Package Manager. You can simply configure prerequisites that include .NET framework that can be easily configured in your installer. 

  • InstallShield provides a dedicated section – Internet Information Services view in the IDE to configure Web Sites, Application Pools, Web Service Extensions. You can configure all the settings for your .NET app including ASP.NET version, platform, uninstall behavior, home directory settings, application and security settings. 

  • If you are installing/configuring a database as part your installation, InstallShield provides several out of the box capabilities to run SQL Scripts and configure your Microsoft SQL Server during the installation process. 

Integration with Visual Studio

If you are a developer who uses Visual Studio to develop .NET apps to build your app installer, InstallShield makes it increasingly convenient to create/edit/build windows installers right from within Visual Studio. The out of the box integration with Visual Studio allows developers to add project output to InstallShield projects without having to navigate away from Visual Studio. This integration simplifies the process of creating installation packages for Windows applications and streamlines the software development workflow. For more details, please refer to Integrating with Microsoft Visual Studio article. 

FAQs on Building installers for .NET apps 

How do I get started with building an installer for my .NET application?

The best way to get started is to start using a Windows Installer using InstallShield’s Basic MSI project. For more details read this article 

I use Visual Studio to develop my application. How does InstallShield help?

InstallShield has native integration with Visual Studio. For more details on how this works, read this article.

My application requires .NET as a prerequisite. How can I add that to the installer?

InstallShield provides several prerequisites out of the box including .NET installers. You can select the appropriate .NET version that’s required for your application. For more details, read this article

Can I create silent or unattended installations for my .NET application?

Yes. Every installer created by InstallShield can be installed in silent or unattended mode. You can also pass any values to variables set in the installation. For more details, read this article.

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