RB Pain Points: Solution #1

Ever since REALbasic went from the single Windows executable to the separate DLL folder people have complained.  They liked the single exe distribution and so did I.  It was incredibly convenient.  But it was also a bad idea and I won’t rehash the arguments here.

Occasionally I see people asking for the option to go back to the single file exe.  I’ll agree to it only if that checkbox is labelled thusly:  “I want a potentially unstable Windows executable that Microsoft has said on multiple occasions will (not maybe) cause this executable to fail on certain machines for weird and mysterious reasons.”  I would then make then confirm it with progressively more wordy, lawyeresque verbage, message dialogs until they agree to give away their first born child if they ever complain to REAL Software about said problems.

The answer to their problem is really pretty simple, in my opinion.  What they really want is REALbasic to create an installer for them automagically.

I believe that most of the developers wanting this are developing on the Mac platform.  They don’t understand what an installer does for Windows or how to even go about creating one.  The single file executable made sense to them.  Installers can be a bear if you’ve never done it before.

Using Inno Setup isn’t very hard but you have to do from within Windows and for some folks that’s like wrestling with a porcupine on an air mattress.  Not everyone has a machine capable of running VMWare or Parallels or another machine sitting around either so it can be a chore to achieve that.  Wouldn’t it be awesome if REALbasic could make an installer for you?

Of course the trick is making it robust enough to handle the typical scenarios like shortcuts and putting files in odd places, uninstall routines, registry entries, etc.  Matter of fact, if I had my choice, I’d add a better GUI front end onto Inno Setup (there are some options on Windows to do just that but I digress) and make it available for REALbasic on all three platforms.  Now THAT would give some immediate relief to a lot of cross-platform developers.

Get that done first and then, if possible, figure out how to create a Mac OS X disk image from Windows and Linux.  Then determine what the best format for Linux folks are.  To get it going added as quickly as possible I would make these installers dirt simple and make the simplest platform specific installers possible.  Then see what changes need to make for developers that are using them.  The key is getting into developers hands and go from there.

As a side note:  One of the more popular tutorials added to the ARBP source code repository is on how to use Inno Setup to create a Windows installer.

So what are the pain points in RB for you?  Do you think you have a solution?