A common trouble spot for newcomers to InstallShield is that they don’t know the best way to organize their installation project. Let’s take a look at that.
In the InstallShield IDE, there are several views. Example views are Setup Design, Features, Components, Files and Folders, Shortcuts, and Registry views. Being new to InstallShield, the Beginner will generally gravitate to the Files and Folders, Shortcuts, and Registry views to do their work. Now, why is that? It’s because those views don’t require intuition to figure out their function. Their names imply exactly what they do. But, confusion can result when a new installation is organized purely from those views. Here’s why.
In the Files and Folders view, if you just right click in the Target Computer Files pane, and do a bulk addition of assemblies and other types of files, InstallShield will organize them into Feature(s) and Component(s) for you. Each assembly will be placed in it’s own Component, and other types of files may be grouped into separate Components as well.
The same can be said of the Shortcuts and Registry views. If you create all your Shortcuts in the Shortcuts view, and all of the registry entries in the Registry view, then InstallShield will add them to Components for you. So, InstallShield will be doing the organizing instead of you. InstallShield may associate the shortcuts and registry entries with a Component you don’t want. Contrast that with working totally from the Setup Design view.
In the Setup Design view, you have one place where you can create Features, Components, Shortcuts, Registry entries, and where you can add other file types. You first create the Features and subfeatures your installation requires. You then create Components and place them under the desired Features. Under each Component, you create the Shortcuts and Registry entries specific to that Component. Here, the Shortcuts and Registry entries will only be created when the Component and it’s parent Feature is installed on the Target System. Makes sense doesn’t it?
Instead if you added all your files through the Files and Folders view, then you may have to go to the Components view and rearrange them after InstallShield has placed them into separate Components for you. In the end, it’s extra work.
That doesn’t mean that the Files and Folders, Shortcuts, and Registry views are worthless. Those views are great when you use them AFTER you have done all your organization in the Setup Design, Features, and Components views. In Files and Folders, you can see how ALL the files and folders are organized in your installation. The Shortcuts view will show you ALL the shortcuts in your installation. Likewise, the Registry view will show you ALL the registry entries created in your installation.
In conclusion, if you’re a Beginner, try working mostly from the Setup Design view. It will allow you to save time by getting your organization right the first time.
If you’re thinking, “I see what you mean, but adding files through the Files and Folders view is a lot faster”. You’re right, it can be, but there is an alternative. I’ll talk about that in the next post.