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April 17, 2008

Red Installs vs Blue Installs

The other day I was reading a blog where Rob Mensching was very proud that WiX installs tend to be Red instead of Blue:

"Blam! Right out of the gate I knew I was looking at a package built by WiX. How? Look at the red. All the other installation vendors out there like blue."

Well, I suppose that's better then the way I used to know that a package was built using WiX. You know..... No Dialogs At All!

Anyways, since Red is somehow better then Blue, I thought I'd mention a feature called Themes that InstallShield introduced back in IS2008. It tries to pretty up the install while still using internal UI capabilities provided by Windows Installer. Naturally, if that's not good enough, they also provide an external UI handler to extend to your hearts desire.

So first is the `Classic` Blue that everyone is so familiar with:

Here are a few of the provided alternatives in case you don't feel like making your own theme:


Anonymous said...


InstallShield and their God awful skins. I cannot understand why anyone would want them. Well, I can. Someone who unfortunately has more business control than brains wanted it.

Example: NVIDIA’s display adapter driver installer. Granted it doesn't use MSI, but the same principle can be applied to a skinned InstallShield external UI handler. Their InstallShield setup uses a skin. When you setting up a new computer, chances are Windows booted in 256 color mode and/or some low resolution. When you run this skinned installer, the dialogs look horrible. It’s a UI that you’ve never seen before. The first time I saw it, I couldn’t tell which of the wizard buttons were enabled and disabled.

Deviating from the standard UI alienates your users.

Christopher Painter said...

I personally don't do a whole lot in this area, but there are industries where this is very important. Big Name Products like Visual Studio and Office have very professional looking UI's as do installs from the Video Gaming Market.

You know, things like a Progress Bar that looks like a Air Speed Indicator from an airplane.

ShadowWolf said...

NVIDIA's installation (at least last I tried) is an Installscript installation. They decided not to use MSI for whatever reason, so it's not surprising that they decide to try to pretty up the dialogs a bit.

Most commercial software installers have External UIs that, in my opinion, enhance the setup experience instead of reducing it. And if you don't like the UI, all of them support /s or something similar.

Jesse Englert said...

Looks like you got Rob's attention:

Christopher Painter said...

That's fine, I'm used to Rob abusing people ( re: Sinan & WiXAware ). It's all good aslong as he's keeping up on the payments for his libel insurance.

Anonymous said...

The Windows software deployment industry is desperately in need of some real talent. It's a shame someone with such a condecending attitude like Menshing is running WiX...