eli5 what is the base install wizard like, and why do so many apps use install wizards?

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eli5 what is the base install wizard like, and why do so many apps use install wizards?

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Anonymous 0 Comments

There are many things that may need to happen before you can use a program.

The most basic is to place the program and all the files it requires in a folder somewhere on the computer. The wizard will ask you where you want this folder to be, create it, copy the program files into there, set the user permissions correctly etc.

But the program may not come with *all* the files it needs because the creator of the program you are installing doesn’t have the rights to distribute those. So the wizard can check if those files are present on your computer already and maybe even download them for you from someone that *does* have the rights to distribute them. (This is the “Installing Visual C++ Runtime” that pops up sometimes when you install games on Steam.)

The wizard can write to the environment variables that make it so that other programs on your computer can find the program you are installing so that they can use it.

The wizard can set up a default configuration for your program so that it doesn’t need to do that when it first runs.

The wizard can create the desktop shortcuts and Start Menu entries you use to launch the program.

And more

Anonymous 0 Comments

Windows requires many things to install most applications. You have to crate the folders for the app’s files, put the files there, make registry entries, do file associations, register the app with the install/uninstall feature, and make shortcuts. The installer does all of this.

Compare with Mac, where for most applications you just drag it to the Applications folder (or anywhere really) and run it. But some do come with installers to allow for a configurable setup.

Fun fact: In the early Mac days, people would go to a store selling Macs where they had applications like Microsoft Office running as the demo. They’d plug in a portable hard disk and drag the application over. Now they have a full copy of Microsoft Office.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Theoretically you could do everything by hand. Move files, write in the registry, install drivers, change environment variables, make shortcuts, whatever. But why not just write a program to have it happen magically. A wizard

Anonymous 0 Comments

>what is the base install wizard like

There isn’t a “base” install wizard. Installers are just programs, and there are lots of different ones. Windows comes with a default installer program Windows Installer (MSI) but not everyone wants to use it for various reasons.

>and why do so many apps use install wizards

Because the process of installing an application on the system can involve a number of different tasks – creating a specific folder structure, downloading or extracting files, setting file permissions, downloading and installing dependencies if required, creating background services/daemons, creating scheduled jobs, adding shortcuts, modifying the registry or file associations, etc. And you want to automate this to make things as easy for the user as possible, so they use your product. Since these are fairly common tasks it makes sense to use an existing product off the shelf specifically designed for this, rather than spend developer time coding a custom installation program from scratch.