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Doug Nebeker ("Doug")
Any thoughts on whether offering a zip alone for downloading is worse than having a setup.exe as well?
Reason for asking: a couple of people have downloaded my setup.exe and then it won't launch my app after installation, because their AV blocks it. It's a false-positive alert, but it causes support requests.
I asked both people to download my portable zip version and try that, and my exe runs fine with no problem.
So, I see five distinct advantages to offering just a zip over a setup.exe:
(1) My website can advertise the app as "no setup needed".
(2) Other people's web browsers won't freak out with "this file is not commonly downloaded".
(3) Mirror websites (such as PortableApps.com) won't reject it for inclusion in their database (=more eyes seeing it).
(4) The program download size is far smaller.
(5) App can be unzipped and run from any folder.
Anything I'm missing?
I guess it depends on your target market. My customers are generally technically minded. For a while I offered ZIP and EXE downloads, but the overwhelming majority selected ZIP. Since dropping the EXE option I have not had a single complaint - but of course I don't know how many who just clicked away from the download page would have downloaded the EXE.
I think it's worth looking as some of the benefits that an installer offers:
1. Runs automatically (and can verify your identity) and allows user to choose install location.
2. Allows you to show the customer your EULA and have them accept it.
3. Display your branding and graphics during the installation process.
4. Generate a start menu and desktop icon.
5. Display a readme file at the end of the installation process.
6. Provides a clean method of uninstalling the program.
These are tangible benefit that you will be throwing away if you just dump you files in zip and expect your customers to work out how to use it. I think this is a bit like throwing the baby out with the bath water if you just want to avoid being listed on an uninstall site.
Sunday, February 01, 2015
(1) Choosing an install location is normal practice for unzipping.
(2) EULA - Your app can just show it when first run.
(3) Branding/graphics during install - who cares. :)
(4) Start menu/icon - Perhaps, but your app can make one anyway when first run.
(5) Display a readme - also can be done on first run.
(6) Clean uninstall - Can't get any cleaner than deleting portable app's folder.
So, I really don't think Setups are needed. Look why:
(1) Web browsers scare the user by saying the file is not commonly download and potentially dangerous, for no valid reason.
(2) Users in locked-down environments can't download exes anyway, but zips are okay (from personal experience!).
(3) Running the Setup on a limited account will NOT let them install to Program Files, which looks weird and may deter them from continuing.
(4) Some AV software will prevent the installed app from launching but will allow an unzipped exe to run (personal experience again).
(5) Fake uninstall websites have a leverage on the app because it comes as a Setup.
I'm sticking with zips for now to see how it goes.
Sign your executables (http://blog.kowalczyk.info/article/lh6f/Buying-a-certificate-for-signing-windows-applica.html)
That will dramatically reduce complaints from anti-virus software.
Sunday, February 01, 2015
Maybe signing will stop AV software complaining, but it won't stop the problem of IE and Win 8 blocking your installs in the first place, as Ralph showed here: http://discuss.joelonsoftware.com/default.asp?biz.5.860189.2
Personally I prefer an .exe
More than once I've forgotten and unzipped on my desktop or in some other folder, only to have the damn thing spew 219 files everywhere..
I don't get the bit where you say "no setup needed"? If it's zipped in a box I need to unzip the thing; with an exe I can just click it?
(Yes, I know some zipped filed will run while still zipped, after you've waited for Winzip or 7Zip or whatever to load and open the thing, but it still feels like an extra step? )
If I have to download it, then choose where to "unzip" it, that's pretty much the same process as choosing where to "install" it, except without the convenience of a desktop icon etc.
Tuesday, February 03, 2015
"No setup needed" is a term used on a few websites I've seen (mainly portable app type sites), to advertise the fact that the app is a simple unzip-and-run affair, instead of the user having to go through a bunch of Setup.exe steps.
> [If I have to] choose where to "unzip" it, that's pretty much the same process as choosing where to "install" it
Yep, which is why I've ditched a Setup.exe verison (for now) and going solely with a zip. Both actions have the same end result: the app is installed somewhere for running.
I must admit I prefer Setups too, but with InnoSetup forcing me to use %APPDATA% as the install location for Limited users, it looks unprofessional. That's my main reason I'm against Setups for now. Even one of my paid users asked why it installs there. I explained why and he answered with "I hate Microsoft". LOL!
So, if anyone knows how I can make InnoSetup install to %PF% instead, as a Limited user, then I'm all ears.
See here: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/8025644/inno-setup-wont-install-to-program-files-on-win-7-for-limited-user
I think limited users can't install under program files because they are limited. Innosetup has no business with this limitation, it's MS. I install under appdata, no problem. One user suggested once that I should offer a PF install for admin users, but I guess I'm lazy.
Does the end user have to unzip it or can it automatically unzip?
I often sent my MS Office templates to clients in a zip file that contains a simple script file to copy them into place. All they have to do it:
1) EXTRACT the folder containing the files.
2) Open that folder then double click the script file to install.
O.M.G. 75% must have me hold their hand to do that. I have explicit instructions saying you MUST unzip the folder or the install will not work. I tell step by step HOW to unzip it.
But they call me and say they can't get it installed. They insist they followed my directions to the letter.
When I remote onto their desktop they have not unzipped the files and they seem completely confused when I mention this.
SO - if your users can download the zip file and just "run" it, it may be fine. But if they need to unzip it, you may create support work for yourself.
(I have an installer for mine too, but need to work with it some before I get fast at bundling their files in it.)
That would be my choice. However you need far more data to make firm decisions.
Thursday, February 05, 2015
I personally am always a tad disappointed when I go to download something and it is zipped. I find it just much easier to download and install something that I can just click on. And I know how to unzip things – it's just the extra few steps that I find annoying. And from what I can tell, usually free open source applications are the ones that are zipped, not commercial applications, although I really am not sure what the state of the field is these days.
> I find it just much easier to download and install something that I can just click on
Very true. I did add to my FAQ page an explanation of why the Setup.exe chooses AppData by default, to help stave off any queries from concerned users. Apparently some people think an app is dodgy if they don't see "Program Files" as the default setup folder. :(
Just read on MSDN that %AppData% is officially the new %ProgramFiles% for Windows 7 and later for non-admin users:
Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7: The property value is the full path of the Programs folder for the current user (for example, %LocalAppData%\Programs.) The identifier for this folder is FOLDERID_UserProgramFiles on 32-bit and 64-bit systems. There is no equivalent CSIDL identifier for FOLDERID_UserProgramFiles. Files in this folder can be accessed only by the user that installed this folder.
Windows Server 2008 and earlier, and Windows Vista and earlier: No per-user capable folder is available. The path is the same as for the per-machine context (for example, %ProgramFiles% or %ProgramFiles(x86)%.) Files in this folder can be accessed by all users."
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