Saturday, December 20, 2014

Path Variable handling in InstallShield vs. Advanced Installer

If you have to deal with Path Variables in your build/packaging IDE in order to manage and maintain varying file/folder paths as an installation package is moved around between machines (ex: between a local development machine and a build/CI Server), there are 2 very, very different approaches that are used by InstallShield vs. Advanced Installer.

InstallShield offers a much more open and flexible approach to dealing with Path Variables by allowing you to define them yourself without forcing you into predefined values for your Path Variables as shown below:

Advanced Installer takes a very different approach and is much more restrictive in how you can manage Path Variables.  You can create your own Path Variables but they have to be confined to pre-existing values such as a folder on disk, an environment variable or a registry value.  In addition, you have to use the Convert Paths wizard to convert many of the paths in your project to Path Variables.  There is no real easy way to convert to already defined Path Variables in your project. 

Personally, I like InstallShield's approach to Path Variables much more than the approach taken by Advanced Installer but, overall, I prefer the Advanced Installer IDE to InstallShield's IDE.  Therefore, I truly hope that the Advanced Installer team implements a solution to handling Path Variables much more similar to what is offered by InstallShield in order to greatly improve the management and maintenance of installation packages as they move between environments. 

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