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Issue 4.1


Ghost Installer Studio

Issue: 4.1 (September/October 2005)
Author: Brian Rathbone
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 4,194
Starting Page Number: 8
Article Number: 4103
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Windows developers are inevitably faced with the daunting task of creating an installer for their latest application. Unlike Macintosh users, Windows users expect an application to have an installer, and they expect that installer to behave in a certain manner.

The look and feel of your application's installer is one of the first impressions you get to make on your user, and the quality of your installer can make or break you. There are several free or inexpensive installer creation utilities available, which suit the needs of the average hobbyist programmer, but lack the power and flexibility needed by serious Windows developers.

Ghost Installer Studio weighs in with an impressive feature set and an attractive IDE. That's right -- Ghost Installer features an IDE that gives the developer complete control over almost every conceivable option.

It also includes a dialog editor, which allows you to add URLs, pictures, animations, and even a browser control to your dialogs. Ghost Installer Studio impressed me immediately, by allowing me to browse the online support forums from within its installer.

Where low-end installer utilities create binaries that cannot be digitally signed, Ghost Installer Studio not only supports Authenticode Signatures, it incorporates the digital signing process into the IDE. No more forgetting to apply your signature before uploading your latest version.

Ghost Installer Studio is not for the faint of heart, this is a serious development tool, and there is complexity along with its power. The customizable IDE is loaded with features, but does not give the developer a great deal of guidance along the way.

The complexity of this product also contributes to the number of bugs present in the demonstration version. Some of the bugs are purely cosmetic, and do not affect the functionality of the application. Other bugs were more serious.

I was unable to compile my installer using the MSI option. The process failed with a file not found error. A trip to the support forum revealed that MSI support is not yet complete, and is planned for version 5.

Ghost Installer Studio has the potential to provide serious developers with the power, flexibility, and absolute control that they need. Support for many standard scripting languages allows for even further customization, without having to learn yet another scripting language.

There are some situations where an application's installer is much more difficult to create than the application itself. In many of these cases, low-end installer packages fall short.

If you find your self needing support for the latest installer technologies, and are willing to invest time and energy into a seriously trick installer; or if you simply need one or two advanced functions that other packages lack, then Ghost Installer Studio may save the day.

You may have to deal with some bugs and a slightly obtuse interface, but the power you crave shall be yours.

End of article.