Dec 12, 2013

Advanced Installer – Specifying the .NET Framework

Since I was getting tired of Microsoft changing which installer options I had in each release of Visual Studio I decided to move over to Advanced Installer. They have a freeware version that satisfies my simple needs. So far I’m quite pleased with this product. I’m finding it easier to install and use than the free version of InstallShield that I switched to when VS2012 came out. It’s not integrated into Visual Studio but I’m finding that’s a non-issue. In fact now that VS is getting upgraded every year and I just switched to VS2013, I’m finding it a positive. For the first time, after a VS upgrade creating a new installer didn’t cause me any problems.

One small gotcha I ran into is when I created a new installer for an older product.  The installer was imposing a prerequisite of .NET 4.5. This would make the program unusable on XP computers and I wasn’t explicitly using any .NET 4.5 features and had in fact explicitly targeted .NET 4.0. Frankly, I think this is a flaw in the installer but it is one that’s easy to overcome once you know where to look.

Even without the prerequisite panel (not available in the free version) you can select the Launch Conditions panel. Once on that page you’ll need to switch from the System tab to the Software tab. The .NET checkbox in my installer was enabled, I simply had to select .NET Framework 4.0 from the drop down as shown in the image below.

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Tod Gentille (@todgentille) is now a Curriculum Director for Pluralsight. He's been programming professionally since well before you were born and was a software consultant for most of his career. He's also a father, husband, drummer, and windsurfer. He wants to be a guitar player but he just hasn't got the chops for it.