Now days, every program you download comes with an “installer.” Without such a program, your new application looks unfinished and unprofessional.
However, most computer science students are not taught how to use such a program. They are never told where how to setup an installer to make their finished works look professional and classy.
Last year, I took my software engineering class. We developed an instant messenger application in VB .NET. It was the biggest project that myself or the other two members of my group had ever undertaken.
When it was time to roll out the finished application, we made sure it looked professional. One step we took was to use a program to create an installer for our software.
The solution we used was called Inno Setup. It was very easy to use, and very professional looking. Most of our classmates were impressed.
Even though Inno Setup worked great, I have recently discovered an even better and more versatile installer. This one is known as Nullsoft Scriptable Install System (NSIS). This adds dozens of great features including the ability to check for required supporting software (like the Java Runtime Environment) and the ability to download online updates.
You can read much more about this great application at http://nsis.sourceforge.net/.