What are the options for creating an installer file, needs to run one of many premade .msi files and do other stuff

K_man used Ask the Experts™
Hello Visual Studio expert chaps, I'm a relative rookie at this and I need to create an easy (muppet-proof) installer for something I've made.

I have made an Access 03 app for a client, it comes in two flavours, one for admin, the other for general users.  I need to give them the option to install these with or without the runtime included (the package manager from VS Tools for office does these for me).  So essentially I need to give the user a choice of four .msi files to activate.

Also along with this is a small VB app that I made to sit in the system tray and notify them when something needs to be actioned, this needs to start when the computer does.  

As well there is the problem of the .net 2.0 framework if it's not there and also MSCOMCT2.ocx that I need to have registered, and the DSN needs to be created, though that's not too big of a deal

What would be the best way to go about making an installer that would do all this as easily for them as possible ? I know that there is an install program in VS but it seems to be more for VS built apps.

Thanks experts.
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I use the NSIS application by NullSoft (the people who make winamp). This program is free, and customizable/open source. There are tons of examples installed with it. I use it to make installers for NASA World Wind...and it's pretty cool. The draw back is that you need to write up a script which compiles the installer...it doesn't use any wizard or anything...still it's great.
Well there is Null Soft

If you want to purchase, there is Wise which is great and would handle most things for you. It is not cheap.

If money is a big issue, and you want to use the VS installer, then you need to do Custom Actions to run other things.  This can be done and there are examples on the web of how to create a CustomInstallAction.

As far as the DOTNET run time, on 2003 there is a boot strap loader that you can install to take care of that.
You can also include dotnetfx.exe on your install CD and have the setup call it if it isn't installed.  You set some properties to check for a DOTNET version.  I haven't done a setup in 2005 and only have the free version of it.


Sorry it took me so long to get round to this.

The custom actions thing will work I think, I ended up using the package wizard and batch commands, very messy, but it worked ! :P

If you are distributing on a CD, you should also always think of a webpage that has choices and can fire off whatever.  You can make them pretty sophisticated. They can fire whatever setup you want.

Thanks for the points.

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