Creating Software Installers

February 22nd, 2009

Every now and then I have to create an installer for a project I did with Director. I mostly work online and my mind usually goes blank when I need to create one. I’m certainly used to seeing them every day as I install new software to try it out.

On the Mac I typically see the lovely “drag this to applications” statement underneath a folder, and on the PC I get led through a standard sequence of steps where I can place shortcuts in lists, icons in docks, and about five other things I never really glance at (can you tell I’m a Mac guy?). Of course, I also see the dreaded click-thru installer on the Mac…life can’t be perfect.

My tools of choice are both free/donation-ware.

On the Mac you need to install the developer tools that are included on the Mac OSX DVD. Once you’ve done that you can go to HardDrive/Developer/Applications/Utilities and you will find the application called PackageMaker. This is rather easy to use (at least for simple installers), but one of the key things to notice is when the first start the program you have to enter your organization. This line MUST start with a ‘com.yadayada’ statement. A typical example might be “com.myCompany.productName”

After that you can drag content to have it included in the package (usually just one folder full of stuff in my case). You can click on the Edit Interface button to setup the readme text that will get displayed and the software license. After everything is done you click on the Build button.

On the PC side of things you can use Inno Setup. The setup wizard will lead you through all the things that can be included with the installer that you will create including the readme file, options for names in the shortcut menu, folder full of content, the executable of the content, etc.

After going through the steps you can save also go through a build step to create the setup.exe file. The program uses a tagged text file to build the final executable, and making minor edits in that text file are relatively easy if there is a small typo in a name or you decide to change the shortcut menu name.

Both products make it rather easy to create the installers.

Entry Filed under: Quick answer,Useful Apps

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. ahoeben  |  February 23rd, 2009 at 4:32 am

    On the PC-side I would recommend NSIS, mainly for its scriptability and small installers:
    I once made a working (slim) Shockwave installer as a technical proof of concept that was less than a Mb.

    It’s got a steep learning curve, but once you’ve got it set up, it’s hard te beat. Especially in a more-or-less automated build system.

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