Create Installer Using Inno Setup

Introduction

InnoSetup is an open source compiler to create installers on windows. It is free and provides a rich feature set. You can create professional looking installers for the end user. In this article we will explain you the basic concepts and steps involved in creating a simple setup of your C# Project.

How to Use

Creating the installer using Inno Setup involves the following two steps:

  1. Create Inno Script file
  2. Compile the Script file

What is Inno Script file

InnoSetup script file is a simple text file which is similar to .INI files with the extension .ISS. In this script file the contents are arranged in sections. These scripts are easy to understand and uses a simple syntax. The section starts with the Section Name which is enclosed in square brackets. Each section handles a specific function of the installation.

  • Setup: This section consists of settings and application related information like application name, publisher name etc.
  • Languages: List of languages supported.
  • Tasks: Tasks to be performed by the setup during the installation.
  • Files: Files to be copied to the User's system.
  • Icons: The Application shortcuts: Start menu folders, etc. are defined here.
  • Run: Any executable to be executed after the installation is completed.

sections

How to Create an Inno Script file

There are three ways you can create a script file:

  1. Text Editor

    You can use any text editor like notepad.

  2. Innosetup built in editor

    InnoSetup built in editor comes with an excellent wizard which takes you through the stages and creates the script file. Later you can modify the script file in the editor which has the following options syntax highlighting and one click installation.

  3. Third party Editor (Inno-script-studio)

    The Inno script studio is free and excellent tool which helps you create an InnoSetup quickly and easily. It comes with a wizard that is similar to InnoSetup wizard. We can then use the graphical interface provided by the tool to edit our script easily. In this article we will look into this tool.

Download link:

First Install Inno setup and then Inno-script-studio. Installation is simple and straight forward.

Create a Visual Studio Project

Now let us get started. Download the sample Project from the link above. You can use any of your existing project. Compile the project in release configuration.

Creating Script File (.iss)

Go to Start->All Programs. You will see Inno setup 5 & Inno Script Studio installed here. Click Inno Script Studio.

Inno Script Studio

This will bring up the new project wizard as in the following image. Create a new script using the script wizard. Click Ok

Select Create a New script

Click Next on Welcome screen. This will bring up the Application Information form. Enter Application Name, Application Version, Application Publisher, Application, Website as in the following screenshot. Click on Next once finished.

Click Next on Welcome screen

This will bring up the Application Folder dialogue box. In this section we are asked where our application needs to be installed. Select Program Files folder if you wish to install it in program folder or else select custom and specify the folder for the application to install. Click on Next once finished.

folder for the application

The next screen is an Application Files dialogue box. Under Application main executable files Browse and select the main executable file of the application. In Visual Studio this is under Project folder, Bin, then Release folder. I have included InnoSampleApp.exe as the main executable file.

Under Add Files select all the assemblies referenced by the application like assembly files (dll) from the Project folder, Bin, then Release folder. Third party assemblies if used must be included. No need to include dot net assemblies. I have included TestComponent.dll and InnoSampleApp.exe.config from my sample application. Click on Next to go to the next screen.

sample application

The next screen that comes is Application Icons screen. Enter Start Menu Folder name here and choose the other parameters as appropriate. Click Next> once finished.

Application Icons screen

The next screen is Application Document screen. Any license file/Software Agreement and any information to be shown before or after the installation are specified here. You can create a text file in notepad and select the files here. Click on next once finished.

license file

The Next screen is language selection. Select the languages supported. Click on next to bring up the Compiler Settings. Select the output folder for the setup file. Click on Next>

compiler Settings

Next screen is Inno Setup Preprocessor. Keep the checkbox selected and click Next. Click on Finish in the last screen.

Save and Create the Setup

Click on file, then Save to save the file. Go to Menu, Project, then Compile to compile and create the setup file. This will create a complete installer. Run the Setup and your application will be installed correctly.

Modify the Setup

You can add files / change the settings / customize the installer using the IDE as in the following screenshot:

change the settings

customize the installer using the IDE

Conclusion

Innosetup offers an awesome alternative to create great looking Installers for free. It supports a rich feature set and covers all the basic requirement.

Further Reading