Thursday, November 28, 2013

InstallShield vs. Advanced Installer

I have used both InstallShield and Advanced Installer in the projects I have worked on, but for individuals or groups that are currently evaluating a packaging tool, I thought this article might be of use in comparing the 2 toolsets head-to-head.

Here is a list of the features that I will be comparing between the 2 platforms:

  1. Freeware versions/evaluation versions
  2. Project Types
  3. Ability to import project types from other packaging platforms
  4. Frequency of updates
  5. Dialogs and Theming
  6. Customizability
  7. Overall feature set
  8. Overall ease of use
  9. Technical Support
  10. Build automation support
  11. Overall value

  1. Both InstallShield and Advanced Installer offer Freeware versions as well as Evaluation versions.  InstallShield offers its freeware versions through Visual Studio in the form of InstallShield LE while Advanced Installer offers its Freeware version available directly through its website.  Both companies offer evaluation versions of their software platform through their website.
  2. Advanced Installer offers a much wider variety of project types than InstallShield hands-down--absolutely no question.
  3. InstallShield offers no visible way to import projects from other packaging tools while Advanced Installer offers the ability to import from Visual Studio Setup, Wix, Inno Setup, NSIS Script, WISE and even InstallShield LE!
  4. Advanced Installer updates their software platform every few weeks with bug fixes and new features, while InstallShield only releases their software in the form of service packs and brand new version releases.  Therefore, new features usually take 1 year or more to get incorporated into the platform.
  5. For Basic MSI projects, both Advanced Installer and InstallShield offer several themes to choose from to customize Dialogs.  However, Advanced Installer makes the customization process significantly easier, provides much more modern UI Dialogs, and a larger selection of color choices.
  6. In regards to customization capabilities, Advanced Installer is just much more customizable.  Most customizations can be done very easily and readily using Advanced Installer, while InstallShield usually requires you to jump through numerous hoops to accomplish the same task.
  7. Overall, the feature set provided by Advanced Installer is far superior.  In many cases I have found that Advanced Installer almost seems to take feature sets provided by InstallShield and makes them 10x better than what is offered in InstallShield and then provides it as part of Advanced Installer.  
  8. Once again, Advanced Installer shines in the area of overall ease of use.  Getting up and running in Advanced Installer even with moderately complex packages is so much better than InstallShield that using the capabilities of InstallShield in comparison is almost laughable.
  9. Both companies offer Technical Support through e-mail, but I have found in my own experience that overall Advanced Installer is much more responsive in a timely manner than InstallShield support.
  10. In the area of Build Automation, InstallShield clearly has an edge over Advanced Installer.  They offer a Standalone Build installer which can be used specifically for build machines/Continuous Integration servers, as well as offering a lot more functionality for specifying Path Variables and defining Property values throughout the IDE especially for functionality such as Dynamic Folders (Synchronized Folders in Advanced Installer) as well as providing extensive command line support and a rich COM-based API for accessing and manipulating nearly every property in an InstallShield package.  
  11. If you want a complete solution with minimal expense, Advanced Installer is definitely the tool of choice for you.  If you are a company that wishes to deploy your own update solution, you can achieve that very easily and readily using Advanced Installer while InstallShield requires you to subscribe to a monthly/annual subscription to publish updates through their hosted service.  
Therefore, the verdict of the 2 installation packaging tools is that Advanced Installer is the CLEAR WINNER!

So, if you have not already chosen an installation packaging tool for your organization, I would definitely recommend choosing Advanced Installer as your tool of choice.


  1. Completely agree. Advanced Installer is the best.

  2. Thanks to SSvaidya!! I review list of the features. I think installshield is not more better then installAware. I have gotten some exceptional news from this page.