Advanced Installer Features
I stumbled across Advanced Installer online when I was looking for a package to make installations (geeky note: I wanted to create a .msi file from a Microsoft Update .exe as I wanted to deploy via Group Policy on a network without WSUS) and have been very impressed.
The start screen which appears when the program is launched allows you to pick a preconfigured template or import a file from another similar utility (such as NSIS, InstallShield or Visual Studio Setup Project). There are also templates for each edition which automatically enables all of the features of that edition.
Once a template is chosen, you are taken to the ‘main page’ to configure your setup. There are many categories on the left hand side which you can choose from (e.g. Product Information, Requirements, Resources) which then go into Subcategories (e.g. with Resources, there is Files and Folders, Registry, File Associations, Assemblies and Services).
You can go into each section and fill in the options to your heart’s content.
One feature I have found really useful is the Custom Actions side category (this is available with any paid version but not with the free version). This allows you to create actions not defined anywhere else in the program. I have used this to add other setups (such as for Microsoft updates) which will run silently in the background during my installation process.
In conclusion, if you are developing your own software and would like to simplify a complicated installation process, or would simply like to try a tool to package up some files so that it can be easily distributed to other computers, I sincerely recommend that you give this a go!