Written by T. Michael Testi
If you read my review of MSI Factory 2 you would have found that it is a Microsoft Windows Installer; product that is aimed at creating 100% pure .MSI format installers and at that job it works great. But by using a Windows installer, you are governed by certain criteria that all Windows installers must follow. What about if you want more freedom and flexibility? What about if you want to do some things during installation that the Windows Installer doesn't allow? This is where Setup Factory 7 From IndigoRose steps in.
Setup Factory is a proprietary installation program that does not require the Microsoft Windows installer to be installed on the user's machine, and because it is able to make its own decisions, offers more freedom and flexibility in the creation of your installations. In fact, Setup Factory gives you the ability to deploy software products, data files, graphic images, or pretty much anything else that you want to distribute.
Setup Factory 7 is fully compatible with all versions of Windows from 95 through Vista. In an effort to conserve space, I have listed the requirements at the bottom of this review for both the design environment and the run-time application (the installer).
So, what's new with Setup Factory 7?
• Install any file anywhere with Setup Factory by simply dragging and dropping your files and folders into the project window. The program will maintain your folder structure, automatically query version resource information, create shortcut icons and, by using CRC-32 checking, insure data integrity.
• More compact single file setups let you deliver smaller and faster files. The approximately 450KB runtime overhead (including install) is smaller than the others. This smaller file creates a faster install and makes it easier to distribute by LAN,CD/DVD, and even floppy disk.
• Customizable Install Wizard screens give you a library of more than 20 different templates to choose from and a pre-built wizard sequence that works for a majority of installation tasks. You have the availability of check boxes, radio buttons, and edit fields to popular screens like license agreements, serial number verifications, etc. You can add and remove screens at will, and each screen has a real-time preview so that you can see the results of your changes.
• Themes and skins give you pre-made themes to customize your screens and you can even create your own. You can configure everything from fonts, banner images, body and background graphics, control colors, and more.
• Background window options let you choose between the traditional setup style or the "Run-in-the-background" style. You can customize the background window with gradients, images, color washes, headlines and footer text with 3D effects as well.
• Action Library now gives you over 250 easy to use actions so you can program your install to do what ever you need without being a programmer. These actions handle everything from text file editing to system registry changes. You can execute programs, call DLL functions, query drive information, and more.
• Action Wizard gives you the ability to select the action you want from a list, fill in the requested information and the wizard will do the rest.
• Scripting engine, based on the LUA language, gives you everything you need to do just about anything in an install. This language contains loops, conditions, functions, variables, and more that you can combine with actions to create very powerful installers that can accomplish any task.
• Color Syntax Highlighting Action Editor will allow you to work with the scripting language like a professional. This includes code completion, syntax highlighting, as you type action prototypes, and even context sensitive help.
• Expandable with Action Plugins will extend the product in very powerful ways. You can add support for databases, XML, data encryption, and FTP file transfers. These plugins are available through IndigoRose as well as third parties. You can even create your own with the plugin development kit.
• Dependency Modules & Runtime Support lets you add support for third-party technologies such as VB5, VB6, DCOM, JET, MDAC, Visual C++, and more. Since you have control over the detection and installation of each module, you can adjust the behavior to suite your requirements.
• Flexible Uninstaller has been improved so Setup Factory can automatically uninstall anything that it has installed, or you can customize it to take full control of what happens during the uninstall.
• System requirements checking can be enforced by checking a few boxes. These checks include operating system, memory, screen resolution, color depth, administration privileges, and more.
• Serial numbers, security, and access features are provided by a number of features that will help you manage access to your software including serial number lists and date-based expiration. Your installer data is compressed using proprietary algorithms and only accessible to those who supply a valid serial number, or as always, you can roll your own system.
• Packages, categories, and install types will let you create much more complex and multi-part products. You can group products and features into a single installer. You can even use categories into logical components.
• International language support is provided right out of the box. Installers created with Setup Factory can automatically determine the language of the client operating system and adjust the display of the screens and message accordingly. As long as it is one of the supported languages, you supply the text and Setup Factory takes care of the rest.
• Even more, such as silent installs, log files to track of details, unattended builds, comprehensive users guide, and video training CDs.
I found Setup Factory 7 very easy to use and it flowed in a very natural manner. I really like the way that you can just drag and drop your files into the project window and click build and you can be done. You can even have a project wizard that will walk you through the process.
There are a lot of options that I did not get an opportunity to try out, but that just goes to show how feature rich this product is. Setup Factory 7 can give you both aspects, a simple quick installer, as well as a full featured product with a scripting language that hands you the ultimate in power.
Setup Factory 7 is available from IndigoRose for $495 USD or you can download a 30-day trial version as well. No matter the level of developer you are, Setup Factory 7 can deliver your product. I highly recommend Setup Factory.
System Requirements and Design Environment
The minimum and recommended system requirements for the Setup Factory design environment are:
Windows 95 (OSR2), 98, Me, NT 4.0 (SP3), 2000, XP, Vista
Pentium 120 MHz
128 MB RAM
800x600 SVGA display with small fonts setting enabled
20+ MB free hard drive space
Video card set to 16 bit color or greater
Windows 2000, Windows XP or Windows Vista
Pentium 4 or equivalent
256 MB RAM or greater
19" monitor @ 1152x864 or 21" monitor @ 1280x1024 (1280x960 if supported by your video card)
High-performance video card
DirectX 8.1 or higher
Run-time Application (Built Installer)
The minimum system requirements for the Setup Factory installer are:
Windows 95 and up
32 MB RAM
640x480 SVGA display
Video card set to 8 bit 256 color or greater (recommended)
10+ MB free hard drive space
Note: The following HTTP actions require Internet Explorer 4.0 or greater: HTTP.GetConnectionState, HTTP.DownloadSecure and HTTP.SubmitSecure.