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Questions on installer technology and techniques

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I've read about why the installer is closed-source for now and I understand. I'd just like to get a handle on the technologies used to create it as I've been doing installer work lately with WiX and installing to Vista (which is proving to be quite a pain). My perception of the Paint.Net installer is that it is very smooth and does a lot of things that I'd like to figure out. In fact I think it is one of the best installers I've seen. It seems to run ngen (I guess this is what is going on when optimising) and do uinstalls as well. I downloaded the source hoping to see how the executable was created but as I said, I can see that it has been removed for good reason.

I guess these questions are pretty much targetted at Rick because he knows the code most (I guess), but if anyone with any knowledge of the Paint.Net installer (or similar) has a few moments I'd be very appreciative of their thoughts on the following;

1) The installer is an executable, not an MSI. Was this chosen to prevent reverse engineering or to be more compact and widely supported?

2) I thought I saw an option to include the .Net framework with the installer which was pretty neat as I've always forced the users to go off and download it (I thought MS only allowed this approach, I got it wrong). Have you got any good pointers on shipping a framework with your installer?

3) I guess the installer is written in C++ which seems to be the only way to get the compactness and wide platform support. Is there a good library within C++ that handles a lot of the installer code for you? For example, the detection, uninstallation and relaunch of the installer is very smooth. I think ngen is executed as well so I'd be interested in how difficult this is under C++.

I could go on and on but I think I've asked enough already. I think Paint.Net is a solid product and is far more professional, easy to use and stable than anything else I've seen in the graphic marketplace. As an aside I've been learning Photoshop CS3 lately and it is soooo cumbersome, I have to dig around in unrelated menu structures and what should take me minutes takes hours. That's why I want to learn about the installer, I'd like my applications to give the same impression right from the installation and I think WiX/MSI just won't do that.

So I'll just get back to learning C++ (for installer actions), trying to figure out how to do things in WiX and banging my head against Vista UAC.

Thanks in advance


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