InstallShield Limited Edition and .Net custom actions RRS feed

  • Question

  • I am currently evaluating the feasibility of migrating our numerous Visual Studio Installer Projects to InstallShield Limited Edition (since that's the officially-supported route going forward).  We had looked into InstallShield products in the past, but the major limitation that prevented us from using them was lack of support for .Net custom actions (i.e. classes that inherit from System.Configuration.Install.Installer).  There were ways of making it work, but they weren't straightforward and came with many caveats.

    Our Visual Studio Installer Projects currently contain many complex custom actions that do everything from upgrading databases, to calling web services for license verification, to calling other .Net assemblies to perform complex business logic.  So, now that InstallSheild LE has received Microsoft's official blessing, has its .Net support improved at all?
    Tuesday, August 31, 2010 2:38 PM


All replies

  • Here is everything I know about the InstallShield software included in VS2010. Note that this is NOT Microsoft software, so they don't support it, they don't update it, they don't upgrade it, etc.

     If you have questions about InstallShield, the best place to start is the InstallShield 2010 Limited Edition Evaluator Guide, which has several tutorials and walkthroughs: http://www.flexerasoftware.com/webdocuments/PDF/evalguide_IS2010_exp.pdf

    For further questions, see the Flexera support page at http://www.flexerasoftware.com/support.htm, where there are links to a knowledge base, support incidents, and community forums.

    These instructions for receiving support for InstallShield 2010 Limited Edition should be in the email that was sent to you from Flexera when you registered for the product. This registration also gives you access to the forum located at


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    • Proposed as answer by Kira Qian Wednesday, September 1, 2010 8:50 AM
    • Marked as answer by Kira Qian Tuesday, September 7, 2010 8:18 AM
    Wednesday, September 1, 2010 2:08 AM
  • Hi James,


    First I confirm Robin’s answer is what I want to post. InstallShield is a separate product though it is integrated into VS. I would suggest you to ask that kind of question on InstallShield vendor site for better support.


    Second, could you please tell me why you want to migrate VS setup project to InstallShield? If you feel VS cannot support some function you required, please feel free to tell us. That would help us to improve the product in future version.



    Kira Qian

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    Wednesday, September 1, 2010 9:23 AM
  • Kira-


     I guess you didn't get the memo.  Microsoft has (thank God) announced the retirement of VS Setup Projects and endorsed InstallShield 2010LE has the alternative of choice.  That's why you have people coming here in asking InstallShield quesitons.



    Thursday, October 7, 2010 4:28 AM
  • The MSFTs on the forum are not real MS employees. Maybe they don't have permission to view the memo. Where did you see that memo? If you have it, please share with us. 
    Thursday, October 7, 2010 6:37 AM
  • It's VERY FRUSTRATING that InstallShield Limited Edition doesn't support DLL in Custom Action, like VS Installer.
    I must buy another IS's edition to get this working like my other VS Web Installer?

    Christophe Trevisani Chavey.
    • Edited by ChristopheBHMG Sunday, October 17, 2010 2:13 PM text format
    Sunday, October 17, 2010 2:11 PM
  • I recommend that you provide that feedback to the makers of InstallShield...


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    Microsoft MVP, Client App Dev
    Sunday, October 24, 2010 7:49 AM
  • Hello,

    I'm trying to install a Windows Service with Installshield.. The service files are installed, but the service itself is never started (as it was when I used VS2010 installer). It seems Microsoft forces us to use an installation software that doesn't support existing VS2010 functions...

    Is this problem related to what James Messinger mentions ?? James, since your post of August 31st, have you made progress on your evaluation ? Thanks.

    Finally, a comment to those who argue that Flexera should answer any technical question regarding InstallShield :

    If all developpers end up using InstallShield within VS2010, Microsoft should as well create a dedicated forum on it.

    Wednesday, December 22, 2010 3:29 PM
  • InstallShield LE is just another 3rd party product that happens to use Visual Studio's IDE extensibility. That doesn't mean Microsoft should supply a forum for them (and Klocwork, DevPartner tools from Micro Focus etc )just because they integrate with Visual Studio.

    InstallShield LE is limited - the full version supports Windows Installer "properly", and I'm not being cynical when I suggest that it is their hope that you will purchase that full version.

    Managed code Dll calls from Visual Studio have always been an issue, especially when the Windows Installer team doesn't support them! 


    You should be able to convert your managed code Dll calls to custom action programs that you run - there's no advantage to Dll calls as compared to programs that get the parameters on the command line. DTF managed code custom actions are a possiblity.


    Of the dozens of tools that can be used to install services, Visual Studio is the only one that invented code to do that. The others  offer IDE support into the built-in capabilities of Windows Installer, the ServiceInstall and ServiceControl tables. Unfortunately Visual Studio hit the worse of both worlds - using managed code Dll calls AND not using the built-in Windows support.

    There's always WiX, that's free.

    Phil Wilson
    Wednesday, December 22, 2010 6:19 PM
  • Phil,

    Thank you for taking the time of the reply. I don't want to argue with anybody about InstallShield. However, I fel there is a strong difference between Installshield and the other software vendors who integrate with VS : it seems I will be forced to use Installshield...

    You might have guessed I am not a seasoned programmer, and you'd be right. From your answer, I still don't know how to achieve my goal : How may I install a couple of Windows Services ? I'm not requiring to use any custom action, my objective is to enable my users to install my services.


    Thursday, December 23, 2010 2:23 PM
  • Hi,

    You're not *forced* to use InstallShield. You can use a setup & deployment package (for now) or Copy the files over to the computer and manually install it using the commandline and installutil.exe.

    If you google "install windows services", there are a lot of articles about this. Here's one.


    Microsoft will not create a forum for InstallShield. That product is from Flexera, and it is their responsibility, not Microsoft's, to support it. Just like Microsoft does not have product support for Dotfuscator which is also built into Visual Studio. They have chosen to go in the direction of Wix, which is apparently open source, and discontinue product support for the Setup & Deployment packages as a company strategy.



    Click here to visit my ClickOnce blog!
    Microsoft MVP, Client App Dev
    Saturday, December 25, 2010 7:35 PM
  • InstallShield LE is a crippled product that will not do what you need. If you want to use InstallShield you will have to spend a minimum of $650 for a slightly less crippled version and which will require a lot of you time just to figure out how to build a simple install program.
    Tuesday, September 4, 2012 6:52 PM
  • Quite right, my friend
    Tuesday, September 4, 2012 8:08 PM
  • Read the Licence Agreement when you install IS LE:

    "No Maintenance.  Flexera Software will have no Support and Maintenance obligation to Licensee for Limited Edition for Visual Studio, unless otherwise agreed by the parties."

    So, no Flexera will not provide any support for IS LE installed with VS2012.

    Now I have to *hope* that my half-dozen or so setup projects migrate over.  I already know that the couple of cab projects I have will not be supported in LE (not that that isn't that much of a problem as i've already gone through the pain of figuring out that the standard cab projects didn't work properly so had to use Build Events to run makecab; now there's a thought; I hope ISLE projects have Build Events!).


    Washing of hands complete.

    Thursday, December 20, 2012 1:06 PM
  • Forget Installshield ! I am now using WIX for all my installs ..

    It takes some time to learn, but I find it fantastic ! You can really do anything with WIX !

    Friday, December 21, 2012 11:26 AM