By Garrett R. Hylltun
Copyright 2014 Garrett R. Hylltun. Please request permission to reprint
First let me state that I am a hobby programmer and not a professional programmer. I enjoy programming, I find it relaxing and I have fun and get a kick out of a completed project.... Provided I actually complete any projects! I suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder and large projects tend to end up in a holding directory while small projects can be accomplished before I get distracted or come up with another new fabulous idea that will storm the world!
So with that in mind, I chose my development tools wisely. I use programming languages that are easy for me to catch on, that allows me to get many projects done as quickly as possible and is either free or doesn't cost more than a night out on the town(which for me consists of Fast food and a DVD.. It's a wonder I’ve been married for 25 years). So the tools I use need to also follow those guidelines.
Second I would like to point out that I am by no way or means a professional writer! You may find spelling errors and or even grammatical errors throughout my scribblings here.
For this particular review, we will be reviewing an Install tool for packing up your completed program to upload to the world so they can download it and install it.
In the past, I have used a few other install tools, some free, some not. Some were easy and some where not. Two that are notable to me are Inno Setup and BitRock Installer(Cost is a deterrent, but I did make the investment on it years ago and use it when I need something more capable), both of which are highly capable installers. Inno is a full blown setup but is for Windows only where as BitRock is also almost as full blown setup as Inno, but is cross-platform. The problem I have with either of these is that they require some effort to use, with the exception of BitRock, which does have a good interface that's easy enough to use. Inno does have third party interfaces for creating your setups, but all of them are quite feature rich and try to be a do all program instead of something simple to get a simple program out the door.
This had lead me to search for a free installer that allowed a quick and easy toss together of any of my completed programs, present a clean and professional looking install interface to any user of my programs, without any nags, gawdy graphics or anything else that annoys me or anyone who might install one of my programs.
I must have checked out about 10 possible free or supposedly free install builder programs. Just about everyone of them had something that turned me off; not really free, nag screen, horrendous graphics, crippled etc.
The very last one I checked out, InstallSimple, was looking good. Everything was going well, no nags, graphics were looking fine, interface was looking professional. Then I got to the license agreement... It was a shareware agreement and I just about tossed it out. You see, the author does offer a shareware version, but there is simply only one single difference between the freeware version and the shareware version and that is that the freeware version has the word “InstallSimple” near the lower left side of your output setup.exe files interface, whereas in the shareware version you can change that to any text of your choice.. That's it! And lucky for me I decided to research this further, even sent an email to the author asking about the shareware license contained in the freeware version. The author replied back rather quickly and apologized for mix up and had immediately changed out the license to a freeware license in the freeware version.
So that accomplished part of my review right there. Not only do I consider the software itself, but I also consider the author and the actions of the author regarding his/her software and this author was not only quick to respond, but quick to action. I did notice however that the support forum for InstallSimple doesn't seem to be very populated. I believe this program has been out since about 2010. But from few posts I did check out, the author was always helpful and did his best to resolve whatever the issue might have been. This is what I love about dealing with independent developers, they're dedicated to their software offspring.
So let's move onto the program itself:
Even the initial description for InstallSimple is, well, Simple! InstallSimple is of course an installation package maker, but it's an easy and quick one with little frills. But with that in mind you also do not get a lot of features. This is for quick, easy and painless installs. Your program name, a description, license agreement, directory of the files that need to be packed for install, destination to install to, shortcuts, pump that setup exe out and you're done within a minute or two. Well, for me at least, as I had graphics already to use for the setup.exe, already had text in mind and had a license text already from my previous endeavors. But the fact still remains that even if you are starting completely from scratch that it would still only take you a few minutes time to create your install.
Now let's take a walk through making a setup and look at some screenshots of the process. First we are presented with beginning of InstallSimple's wizard interface, which in itself resembles an install of something. This is very helpful for anyone who hasn't spent a lot of time with install tools, this way, it's kind of a WYSIWYG scenario.
In the next dialog we add the Title bar text and the text that is near the top of your resulting setup.exe's initial dialog, where it says “Welcome to the
--- Setup Wizard”. You just put your program's name in there. I usually put my program's name followed by it's version number.
Also take note that at the bottom and left of the dialog you have a row of buttons. First button is to create a new project; useful if you just completed one and need to make another. Second button allows you to load up a previously saved project; if you updated your program and need to get the update out. Third button is to save your setup project for later use; such as updates to your program. The fourth button is the settings for InstallSimple. The final button needs no introduction, it's the help button which brings up the help file.
The next dialog allows you to add some text text below the “Welcome to the
--- Setup Wizard” header. I usually put a brief description of my program and a quick note about it being either freeware or Gulp! Shareware!
The next dialog allows you to put in a final message after your program has been installed. I usually put something like “Program something a rather has been installed” and any other information that they may need to know about running the program for the first time.
The dialog after that allows you put your license text in.
The next dialog is the graphics dialog. Here you can add a splash screen, which I don't use for installers, a header graphic which you can see I used my own and finally you can use your own wizard image which is the image that sits to the left of everything. You can also set the justification of the header text as well as set the amount of time you want the splash screen to show.
Next we have the files. Here's where InstallSimple will make you or break you depending on your needs. InstallSimple doesn't have an interface for selectively choosing what files to install and where to install them. You place all the files you want to be installed into a folder, select that folder and that's it. This means that you can't install any files anywhere else but in the directory where your program is installed. For quick and simple work, this is all you need, but if you have some complex program which requires files spread out all over the end users harddrive, well, this just isn't going to work out for you.
Here you also select where you would like your program to be installed and if you want a folder created just for your program and any included files with it.
The shortcuts dialog is pretty straight forward here. Click any of the files that need a shortcut somewhere, select where that shorcut needs to placed. You can also have InstallSimple create a group for any of the shortcuts you've requested it make.
One thing that is needed for any install maker is the ability to add registry entries. Even simple programs might need of the registry. Very simple deal here, add a registry entry, edit one of the entries you have listed to be written to the registry or delete an entry you have listed to be written to the registry.
Next dialog allows you to limit what versions of Windows that your program can be installed on. If you know your program is good to go from Windows 95 on up, then just click the “Windows All” checkbox. If you use .NET, you can have InstallSimple check for the version needed during your program's install. Last option here is the “Require administrator rights” checkbox. Not needed for most simple programs, but if by chance your program needs access to some system critical areas then this option is available to you.
The next dialog I feel could have been included on the previous dialog. This simply has the option to require/request the user restart their system after your program has been installed before using your program.
Almost done here.. Now we can build our setup.exe file. Also note that throughout the entire process you can go back and edit anything. Here is also a good point to save your setup project.
And last dialog is the completion of your setup.exe file. You are now ready to upload or burn disc.
So, as you can see, InstallSimple is exactly what it says, Simple. Something else to note is the file size of the resulting setup.exe file. I checked the file sizes of the graphics I used for the setup and the file to be packed and installed and here's my results:
Size of files involved: ------------------------------------- CNSILockMon.exe 81kb install_top_2.bmp 118kb install_sidebar_1.bmp 52kb ------------------------------------- Total size of files: 251kb ------------------------------------- Size of resulting setup.exe: 76kb
So the author has employed some form of compression within the program, and from the looks, it does a good job of compression too.
You can download the test I did here [http://www.freewarehome.com/garrett/SetupCNSILockMon.exe ] It contains a program I made for myself using PureBasic(not freeware but an awesome programming language) that monitors the Caps Lock, Scroll Lock, Insert Lock and Num Lock keys and indicates whether these keys are on or off. I use this when writing or programming and it saves me a lot of time of having to backspace and type things over again. It's freeware, so keep it, pass it on, shoot it, cook it and eat it.
InstallSimple is quick and simple and very useful for simple needs, but if you require more features then you will need to look for another Install maker. InstallSimple does what it's intendeded to do and does it very well, it gives you a small in size, professional looking install for your program and does so in a very quick and easy to follow wizard based interface. It's supported by an author who seemingly is very attentive to his/her program and the users of his/her program. The difference between the freeware version and the shareware version doesn't leave a bitter taste in your mouth and if you choose to support the author and purchase a license, the prices are acceptable in my opinion. I paid hundreds(USD) for the BitRock Installer many years ago, so $34.95(35) USD seems more than reasonable for InstallSimple. But again, you do not have to purchase and as far as I can tell there are no nag screens or anything else trying to twist your arm into buying the shareware license.
InstallSimple is now one of my developer tools.
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|Description:||Create installation package easily and quickly. InstallSimple - installation package maker that lets you create installer for your files. If you have made a program that you want to distribute, you can use this installer maker to create a nice looking installer for your programs. The best part of InstallSimple is that it does not increases the file size of installation package significantly. In fact, the installer just adds a 24 KB over the compressed data size.This installer maker comes in a Wizard format, and guides you through all the steps. You start with providing splash image for the installer, and a header image. Then you can provide name and description of your software, and license text that users will see. You keep on following the steps to specify path of installation folder, menu entries, desktop shortcut, and so on. At the end, you can also specify the action to be performed once the installation is done.Install Simple also lets you provide system requirements. You can explicitly specify the versions on Windows on which your software will work, or simply specify that it works on all versions. Once everything is done, Install Simple will create an installer. You can distribute this installer via any medium you want.|
If you have any experiences with InstallSimple and would like to share them, please feel free to post a comment below.