I am asked this question several times a year by newcomers to installation development. Here’s my answer.
The world of Windows installation development is as vast and deep as Windows .NET development. It can be every bit of complex and troublesome as it’s .NET counterpart. Now, that is just the truth. Even if everyday .NET developers laugh at you for saying it. Just see that smile come off their face when they are tasked with doing an installation project.
In InstallShield installations, you need to learn about project types, redistributables, releases, deployment, installation folders, shortcuts, COM, Internet Information Services, SQL Server, the Windows Installer, sequences, custom actions, and many other things I am forgotting at the moment. Oh, and let’s not forget about learning the InstallScript language if you choose InstallScript or InstallScript MSI type projects. Even if you are doing Basic MSI projects, you will end up writing some custom actions in InstallScript.
Of all the things you have to learn, InstallScript is by far the least of your concerns. If you have worked in any C-type language (C, C++, C#), then you will find it easy. Even if you are a Visual Basic programmer, you will find InstallScript easy to learn. Even if you don’t know C or VB, but still know some type of programming language, you will be able to learn InstallScript. And even if you have worked at the local butcher shop for the past five years and have no programming experience whatsoever, you still can learn InstallScript. Okay, trimming a Rump Roast is going to be a lot easier than learning InstallScript, but that’s the only situation where it will be.
Yes, if you are new to it, you will have to look at the Help a lot in order to learn the InstallScript function set, but that’s typical of any programming language.
Believe me now or believe me later. InstallScript is easy to learn. Don’t be afraid of it.