I have the nice fancy Visual Studio 2005 Professional, so when I wanted to make an installer, I figured it’d be trivial. I created a new Setup project, and then I figured out how to drag files into it and make registry keys, but then I got stuck. I couldn’t change even the most basic things like the Company Name! It always installed to “Default Company Name.” I knew there had to be a way to edit this, so I searched and searched. For hours! Now I will add this knowledge to my blog so that Google catches it and helps other lost souls.
The Company Name, etc., shows up in the Properties tabbed window. To view it, choose View->Other Windows->Properties Window from the menu. (It’s NOT the button along the top that says Properties, nor the menu option that says “Properties Manager”, nor the dialog that pops up when you right click an item and choose “Properties…”. Those are DIFFERENT properties in there. Brilliant.)
The secret is that you can’t just go to the Properties tab any old time. The Properties tab is context sensitive, so if you click on something in the User Interface window, the Properties tab shows properties for THAT window instead. The trick is to remember that the Properties tab only shows data for the last thing you clicked on.
So, to edit the basic setup properties:
- Go to the Solution Explorer tab and click on the base node of the project’s tree. (Such as “MyApp_Setup” or whatever you called it.)
- IMMEDIATELY click on the Properties tab (or use Alt+Enter to jump to it). Don’t click on anything else in the mean time!
Like so much of Visual Studio, it seems obvious once you’ve figured it out. But only after you’ve figured it out! Maybe if I wrote lots of Visual Basic apps this would have been trivial for me. But I don’t, and it wasn’t.
Having other troubles with VS 2005 Setup? If you want to do anything besides install some files, you’re going to need help from the Microsoft Knowledge Base. I needed to add a shortcut to the Start Menu to uninstall my program, and there’s no chance I’d have EVER figured out how to do this on my own. It involved creating a fake project and configuring the fake project’s files in weird ways. Good luck!
Instead of VS 2005… I gave up on VS2005′s setup process. It’s too inflexible and way too hard to figure out. Instead, I switched to Inno Setup. It’s free and very powerful. The “newbie” download bundle comes with an alternate front-end called ISTool. Make sure to get that! When you create a new project in ISTool, a wizard guides you through the steps of making an installer. I had a near-perfect installer in 5 minutes. I was incredibly impressed.
The only down side is that Inno Setup doesn’t create .MSI files, but for casual game installers, that’s not an issue.