MSI installer for .Net free or low cost!

Hi I'm looking to deploy my first .Net 4.0 app. I know VS comes with an installer project and a free version of InstallShield, however the free version of install shield doesn't do what I need, or so I think, and the MS installer is end of life so don't want to learn it!

What is everyone using? I have in the past used NSIS but it doesn't build MSI's and it was a problem to some people who wanted it as an MSI.

Here is what I need to do during installation, in addition to the normal stuff: manipulate an XML file on the target machine. Call a COM object

Any recommendations (i don't have 150+ to spend on an installer)?


You may or may not have found this already, but it is possible to execute Custom Actions in the InstallShield Limited Edition version bundled with VS2010, using a deployed EXE, VBScript or JavaScript.

The number of points at which you can execute the custom action are greatly reduced in the free version, but should enable you to write the appropriate code to modify the XML file and call the COM object as you require.

Custom actions item can be found in Solution Explorer tree for the InstallShield project, under (5) Define Setup Requirements and Actions.

WiX is free (as in speech and as in beer), but you're going to hate the learning curve.

You can definitely modify XML files, though.

I have had great success with this tool. It has a free version that has many capabilities out of the box. I think it will do the job for you.

Here is the feature matrix, to tell you what you don't get with the free version:

Feature Matrix

InstallShield 2010LE can consume merge modules which means you can combine it with WiX to inject things into it that it wasn't intended to do. Also it compliments WiX nicely in that it has the bootstrapper that WiX does not.

If your installer is really simple I'd be willing to set it up for you intially for the cost of a nice lunch.

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