Visual & Installer - Visual Studio extension for creating NSIS and Inno Setup installers

Visual Installer box

VI iconVisual & Installer - Features  

New project types: NSIS Project and Inno Setup Project

Visual & Installer brings two new project types into Visual Studio: NSISProject icon NSIS Projectnsis project
NSISProject icon NSIS Project
and InnoSetupProject icon Inno Setup Projectinno setup project
InnoSetupProject icon Inno Setup Project
.
NSISProject icon NSIS Project (.nsisproj) allows you to create NSIS (Nullsoft Scriptable Install System) scripts (.nsi/.nsh files) and build awesome NSIS installers.
InnoSetupProject icon Inno Setup Project (.innoproj) allows you to develop famous Jordan Russel's Inno Setup scripts (.iss files) and build powerful Inno Setup installers.
Each project contains it's own language: NSIS language and Inno Setup language which are equal to other Visual Studio languages (C#/C++/JavaScript/...) and offer all functionality.

New items for NSIS Project and Inno Setup Project

With Visual & Installer you can have all your installer's files together in one solution.
You can create and add to your project several different items and compile them into single installer - or into several ones - it is up to your decision.
Currently NSISProject icon NSISProject supports NSIS Script files (.nsi), Header files (.nsh), nsL Assempler files (.nsl) and Text files (.txt).
The same applies to InnoSetupProject icon Inno Setup Project where Inno Setup Script files (.iss) and Text files (.txt) are supported.

Sometimes you have a script file with some useful routines you want to use in your project. But this file is part of another project and you do not want to copy it to new project or to maintain two files.

Solution: add file into project as Link - file stays in the old location and project contains only reference to it. You do not need to edit file twice - is available from all projects.
Links are shown with little arrow Links shown in a Solution Explorer.
Links shown in a Solution Explorer.
(shortcut symbol) in a Solution Explorer.

Full integration into Visual Studio IDE

With Visual & Installer you can easily create installer for your software directly from your preferred IDE. NSISProject icon NSISProject
and InnoSetupProject icon InnoSetupProject(s) can live together with other solutions projects - C#, Visual Basic, C++ and many more. Create, edit, and build your installers directly from Visual Studio without need of an external tools!

Also MSBuild properties and parameters are supported in Project properties (see below) - e.g. you can use $(MSBuildProjectFile) etc. More info about MSBuild...

Visual Studio 2005, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2017 support

Visual & Installer works in all recent Visual Studio versions (2005, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2017) - and this list is still increasing!
Create your installer in your preferred IDE - without need to upgrade your current IDE to the latest one!
All editions of Visual Studio are supported, except the Express editions.

We are working on our product every day and we want to support as many Visual Studio versions as possible - let us know which IDE you use!

Build installers directly with other project types

A NSISProject icon NSISProject and InnoSetupProject icon InnoSetupProject are deeply integrated into Visual Studio. They can be built, compiled, cleaned, deleted from solution, unloaded and reloaded back - treat them exactly as other regular project types!
Also their appearance can be customized - set Indenting, Tab size, Line numbers, Word wrap and more for NSIS Languagensis tabs
NSIS Language
, and InnoSetup Languageinno setup general
InnoSetup Language
.

You can use 'Start Debugging' (F5) or 'Start Without Debugging' (Ctrl+F5) actions to run the resulting setup after build if it is named OutFile "Output/<ProjectName>.exe" (NSISProject icon NSIS) or OutputDir=Output OutputBaseFilename=<ProjectName> (InnoSetupProject icon Inno Setup). <ProjectName> cannot contain spaces!

Easy to be integrate into many popular build (automation) systems

Both NSISProject icon NSIS Project (.nsisproj) and InnoSetupProject icon Inno Setup Project (.innoproj) are based on MSBuild so they can be easily integrated into many build (automation) systems.
Every popular build system supporting MSBuild (by default or by external plug-in) is capable of building these installer projects.
Use Jenkins, Maven, Apache Ant, Hudson, Gradle, FinalBuilder or your preferred system together with Visual & Installer and build your installer together with your software product.

See Project Properties for supported symbols and variables (platforms, configurations, ...).

Convert Visual Studio Setup projects (.vdproj) into NSIS or Inno Setup

Visual Studio setup projects (.vdproj) will not be shipped with future versions - starting with Visual Studio 2012 which are unable to open .vdproj files. Many developers who use it for creating .msi or .exe installer packages (also web deployment projects or cab setups) want to upgrade to VS 2012 but they have to look for a replacement.
Visual & Installer offers you the possibility to convert your existing Windows Installer VdProject icon Setup Deployment projects (.vdproj) into NSISProject icon NSIS or InnoSetupProject icon Inno Setup installers.
Simple right click any Setup and Deployment Project in Solution Explorer and choose the Convert Setup project into option. The Project conversion wizardProgress of converting .vdproj file to installer
Progress of converting.vdproj file to installer
will try to automatically convert most of your Setup Projects features into NSIS or Inno Setup script in a few seconds.

It is possible to convert loaded Setup projects (.vdproj)Converting .vdproj file from Solution Explorer
Converting loaded .vdproj file from Solution Explorer
directly without any external tools - but of course also unloaded projects! The newer versions of Visual Studio cannot load solutions with setup projectsLoading .vdproj file in Visual Studio 2012
Loading .vdproj file in Visual Studio 2012
and show error ("Unsupported: this version of Visual Studio does not have the following project types installed or does not support them.") so such projects are disabled (unavailable - incompatible) in Solution Explorer.
Visual & Installer can convert all projects - starting from VS 2002. The original .vdproj file remains untouched, new NSISProject or InnoSetupProjectNew project is created after convesion in Solution Explorer
New project is created after convesion in Solution Explorer
is created in solution with appropriate script files.
Project conversion wizard can handle most of the Setup Deployment project's features (if you have really complicated script with custom actions you may need to add certain features manually):

  • creating files
  • creating folders
  • creating registry keys
  • registration of Assemblies (.dll)) into GAC (InnoSetupProject icon Inno Setup only)
  • registration of Type Libraries (.tlb) (InnoSetupProject icon Inno Setup only)
  • registration of OCXs, COMs, DLLs and other files (InnoSetupProject icon Inno Setup only)
  • font installation (InnoSetupProject icon Inno Setup only)
  • creating shortcuts
  • reading project and product defails (name, GUID, installation path, manufacturer, ...)
  • and more...

This feature also works in Visual Studio 2012 where .vdproj files are not officialy supported!

tip Tip: The 'Convert Setup project into...' items are not present in right click menu in Visual Studio 2015 and 2017.
To use this feature from Visual Studio 2015 and 2017 run standalone application VdProjectConverter.exe in the installation directory.

NSIS and Inno Setup Project Properties

For every project it is possible to set command line options - to modify compilation process, adjust output, define custom symbols, emulate #define and #pragma directives and more.
Using Project Properties (right click the Project) many options can be set - separately for every project in solution:
MSBuild properties and parameters are supported (e.g.: $(MSBuildProjectFile)) - you can use them in all fields.
Properties with spaces must be enclosed with quotes! (e.g.: "string with spaces").

See FAQ section for solution to most common troubles related to project settings.

tip Tip: If the resulting Setup is stored in Output folder you can use Visual Studios actions 'Start Debugging' (F5) or 'Start Without Debugging' (Ctrl+F5) to run the Setup (without setting the Project Properties 'Run Installer' property).
To use these features set resulting Setup name as OutFile "Output/<ProjectName>.exe" (NSIS) or OutputDir=Output OutputBaseFilename=<ProjectName> (Inno Setup)
Building the project (F6) or Rebuilding it simply compiles the project without running the resulting Setup.
For multiple projects in Solution use 'Set as Startup Project' command (Right click the project) to set runnable project.
<ProjectName> is name of project (from Solution Explorer), it CANNOT contain spaces!









NSISProject icon NSIS Project Properties:

Property Switch Comment Group
NOCD /NOCD Disables the current directory change to that of the .nsi file. Compiler
NOCONFIG /NOCONFIG Disables inclusion of <path to makensis.exe>/nsisconf.nsh.
Process Priority /Px Compiler process priority, x is 5=real time, 4=high, 3=above normal, 2=normal, 1=below normal, 0=idle.
Binary Output /RAW MakeNSIS output is binary (allowing Unicode texts). Supported only in Unicode NSIS (2.46.5 and newer, not in NSIS 3!).
Warnings as Errors /WX Treats warnings as errors (Stops compilation on warning).
Preprocessor /PPO Runs only the preprocessor (Prints the result to Output Window).
Safe Preprocessor /SAFEPPO Runs only the preprocessor (Prints the result to Output Window). The safe version will not execute
instructions like !appendfile or !system. !packhdr and !finalize are never executed.
Defined symbol /D define[=value] defines the symbol 'define' for the script [to value]. Parameters are processed by order!
(/Ddef ins.nsi != ins.nsi /Ddef)
User Symbols
Execute symbol /X Executes scriptcmd in script (i.e. '/XOutFile inst.exe').
Launch tool after build - Launch specified application after successful build. General
Launch tool before build - Launch specified application before build.
Run installer - Run generated installer after successful compilation.
InnoSetupProject icon Inno Setup Project Properties:

Property Switch Comment Group
Output /O Output files to specified path (overrides OutputDir): /O<path>. Compiler
OutputBaseFilename /F Overrides OutputBaseFilename with the specified filename: /F<filename>.
SignTool /S Sets a SignTool with the specified name and command: /S<name>=<command>.
Defined symbol /D Emulate #define public <name> <value> /D<name>[=<value>] Directives
Include /I Emulate #pragma include <paths> /I<paths>
Include File /J Emulate #include <filename> /J<filename>
Option /$ Emulate #pragma option -<letter>(+|-) /$<letter>(+|-)
Parse Option /P Emulate #pragma parseroption -<letter>(+|-) /P<letter>(+|-)
Inline Start /{# Emulate #pragma inlinestart <string> /{#<string>
Inline End /} Emulate #pragma inlineend <string> /}<string>
Launch tool after build - Launch specified application after successful build. General
Launch tool before build - Launch specified application before build.
Run installer - Run generated installer after successful compilation.

Syntax highlighting (coloring)

Syntax highlighting was important feature of Visual Studio for ages. Now your NSIS (*.nsi and *.nsh) and Inno Setup (*.iss) files can be colored too!
Improve readability of your scripts in Visual Studio! All colors can be customized - there are many elements supported: Keywords, Comments, Parameters, Variables, Constants, labels, Preprocessor and many more...
Configure them easily in Tools -> Options -> Environment -> Fonts and Colors dialog for NSIS Languagensis-colors
NSIS Language
, and InnoSetup Languageinno-colors
InnoSetup Language
.
However NSIS and Inno Setup scripts are case INsensitive you need to write words correctly to have syntax highlighting working!

Word under cursor highlighting

This feature allows you to quickly find all occurences of specified text (that may be variable, function, macro or any word) in your script.
Click any text in Text Editor window and all occurrences of this word will be highlighted. Click empty space to disable highlighting.

This feature can be adjusted in Settings dialog (Category Text Editor).
* Visul Studio 2010 icon and Visul Studio 2012 icon only.

Braces matching

If you move text cursor behind any curly/square/round brace (opening or closing: ( ) [ ] { }) the matching brace (if exists) is highlighted.
With this feature you can quickly find start and end of your function or procedure parameters list, expression or logical condition.
Braces within string literals ("string literal" or 'string literal') are not highlighted.

This feature can be adjusted in Settings dialog (Category Text Editor).

IntelliSense Complete Word support

Do not waste your time by manual writing whole comands, functions, parameters, directives etc.! Using IntelliSense Complete Word support you can speed up writing your installers.
Simply hit Ctrl+Space and immediately you will see a list of possible word matches. (Yes, exactly as in C++/C# or any other language in Visual Studio!) A short information is shown in tooltip so you can quickly recognize them.

List of all supported IntelliSense types:

Icon NSIS Type Inno Type NSIS color Inno color Example NSIS Example Inno
color Variable Variable color color Var myVar myVar: Integer
color Global variable   Global variable color color Var /GLOBAL myG   GlobalVar: String  
color Variable Static variable color color $0 - $R9 WizardForm
color Constant Constant color color $INSTDIR {app}
color Function Function/Procedure   color color MyFunction MyFunction()
color Callback Event Function / Procedure color color .onGUIInit NextButtonClick()
color Command Pascal code color color ShowWindow IntToStr()
color Parameter Parameter color color /SILENT Common
color Plug-in export - color - Inetc::get -
color Directive Symbol color color !include {#APP_NAME}
color - Directive - color - AppName
color - Flag - color - promptifolder
color Header file - color - "FileFunc.nsh" -
color Code Snippet Code Snippet - - _if _beg
color - Class - color - TPanel

All colors can be changed easily in Tools -> Options -> Environment -> Fonts and Colors dialog.

Note for Inno Setup: IntelliSense is section sensitive - in [Code] section it offers you items related to Pascal scripting (variables, parameters, procedures, functions, ...) and outside of [Code] it offers Inno specific items (parameters, directives, flags, constants, ...). Specific items can be used in all sections.

IntelliSense Parameter Info

Writing installation scripts (especially large) often requires calling Pascal functions or procedures (or commands in NSIS). With this feature you get extra help: as you type function name and type the left parenthesis '(' a tooltip is shown at cursor position.

This tooltip contains detailed description - which tells you the usage of the function or procedure, number and types of parameters and many more useful information.
The tooltip is updated as you write. After comma ',' the tooltip is updated and current parameter is highlighted in bold.

This feature can be adjusted in Settings dialog (Category Text Editor).

tip NSIS Tip:
NSIS has special syntax: parameters are separated with spaces which are not accepted and recognized in Visual Studio correctly.
Thus we added special helper characters to have NSIS Parameter Info feature working correctly:

Parameter Info is triggered by entering the left square bracket '[' character.
To move to next parameter use comma ',' and to skip optional parameter use at '@' (folowed by comma if there is another parameter).
Don't worry about the helper characters: they disappear (or are replaced by spaces) immediately after you type right square bracket ']'.

IntelliSense Quick Info

If you are not sure what certain symbol, parameter or just any word in script means then solve your dilema easily using Quick Info feature!
Move the mouse over some word - and a small tooltip with help will appear with basic information, type, parameters, correct usage.
Quick Info works for most of the code - NSIS commands, proprocessor directives, parameters, variables, constants, flags and also for Inno Setup Pascal functions and procedures, directives, parameters, flagsinno setup quick info
InnoSetup Pascal functions and procedures Quick Info
, ...

IntelliSense Member Completion

The IntelliSense Member Completion is a tool tip that displays a list of possible members for classes (objects), local variables or global (static) variables. If you type variable followed by a period (.) all possible members of this class are presented in a list from which you can choose.

This feature works only for objects because in Inno Setup there are no members available for not object variables (Integer, String, ...). You can move cursor over any classintellisense objects
IntelliSense for classes (objects) in Pascal language
to view it's members.

* InnoSetupProject icon InnoSetupProject only

Navigation Bars allow you to quickly access the most important parts of the script. They are divided into two parts:
- Left one (called Types) is designed for fast switching between important parts of the script and
- Right one (called members) contains user defined content - use it to jump to symbol definition (variable, function, symbol).

Every item in both drop-down boxes contains icon and text. Text (font) style can vary - everything is shown immediately as user types the script into editor. You can also use GoTo feature on all items in these boxes.

Navigation bars are grouped by type of item and sorted alphabetically - allowing you quickly find desired item.



Navigation Bars in NSISProject icon NSISProject:

nsis navigation bars

Left drop-down box (called Types) is used for fast switching between Sections, SectionGroups and Labels.
Icon Type Font style Example
intellisense icon Regular section - Section "Main section"
intellisense icon Invisible section Grayed Section "-Invisible Section"
intellisense icon Bold section Bold Section "!Bold section"
intellisense icon Section without name <Unnamed section> Section ""
intellisense icon Uninstall section Italic Section "Uninstall"
intellisense icon Regular label - Label:
intellisense icon Global label Bold .GlobalLabel:
intellisense icon SectionGroup - SectionGroup "Main group"

Right drop-down box (called Members) contains user defined Variables, Functions, Symbols and Macros.
Icon Type Font style Example
intellisense icon Local variable - Var variable
intellisense icon Global variable Bold Var /GLOBAL globalVar
intellisense icon Function - Function MyFunction
intellisense icon Callback Underline Function .onInit
intellisense icon Uninstall function Italic Function "un.Function"
intellisense icon Page Creator/Leave - Page Custom ShowPage
intellisense icon UninstPage Creator/Leave Italic UninstPage Custom ShowUnPage
intellisense icon Defined symbol - !define DEBUG
intellisense icon Macro Italic !macro MY_MACRO


Navigation Bars in InnoSetupProject icon InnoSetupProject:

inno setup navigation bars

Left drop-down box (called Types) is used for fast switching between Sections, Types and Constants.
Icon Type Font style Example
intellisense icon Section - [Setup]
intellisense icon Type - type TDays = (Monday, Tuesday);
intellisense icon Const - No = False;

Right drop-down box (called Members) contains user defined Variables, Functions/Procedures, Parameters and Symbols.
Icon Type Font style Example
intellisense icon Global variable Bold GlobalVar: String
intellisense icon Static variable Bold MainForm, WizardForm, UninstallProgressForm
intellisense icon Variable - I: Integer;
intellisense icon Parameter Italic PageID: Integer;
intellisense icon Function - function GetData(): Integer;
intellisense icon Procedure Italic procedure CountItems();
intellisense icon Event Function Underline function InitializeSetup(): Boolean;
intellisense icon Event Procedure  Underline Italic  procedure InitializeWizard;
intellisense icon External Function - function F; external '<dllfunctionname>@<dllfilename>';
intellisense icon External Procedure Italic procedure P; external '<dllprocname>@<dllfilename>';
intellisense icon Symbol - #define DEBUG
intellisense icon Public Symbol Bold #define public NAME

Note: There are 3 global static variables in InnoSetupProject icon Inno Setup: MainForm (TMainForm), WizardForm (TWizardForm) and UninstallProgressForm (TUninstallProgressForm).
These variables are always visible and accessible (as they are defined directly in Inno's sources): we attached them to line [Code].

Outlining (Regions) support

Outlining regions (aka Code folding) is a feature that allows you to selectively hide and display sections of a script file. This allows you to manage large amounts of text while viewing only those subsections of the text that are specifically relevant at any given time.
Regions are marked by a tag which provides the standard outlining behavior. The region can be expanded or collapsed. The outlined region is marked by a plus sign [+] if it is collapsed or a minus sign [-] if it is expanded, and the expanded region is demarcated by a vertical line.

Outlining regions can be used anywhere in the script file (*.nsi, *.nsh, *.nsl, *.iss).

regions

For NSISProject icon NSISProject use #region and #endregion to mark the region.
For InnoSetupProject icon InnoSetupProject use //region and //endregion to mark the region.

Outlining regions have no effect on compilation speed, script size or resulting installer's size.

* Visul Studio 2010 icon and Visul Studio 2012 icon only.

tip Tip: Regions overlapping

Be careful when creating regions.
A region block cannot overlap with a automatic region block.
However, a region block can be nested in a automatic region block, and a automatic region block can be nested in a region block.







Automatic Outlining (Regions) support

Automatic Outlining (Regions) is similar to classic regions but everything is automated - you do not need to write #region .. #endregion (or //region .. //endregion) manually but the script file is scanned in background and regions are created automatically.

In NSISProject icon NSISProject these regions are created for functions, sections, section groups and macros:

  • Function .. FunctionEnd
  • Section .. SectionEnd
  • SectionGroup .. SectionGroupEnd
  • !macro .. !macroend

In InnoSetupProject icon InnoSetupProject regions are created for each section and for each procedure and function in [Code] section:
  • [Setup], [Files], [Code], [Types], [Languages], [Messages], [CustomMessages], [Components], [Tasks], [Dirs], [Icons], [INI], [InstallDelete], [LangOptions], [Registry], [Run], [UninstallDelete], [UninstallRun]
  • procedure
  • function

This feature can be adjusted in Settings dialog (Category Text Editor).
* Visul Studio 2010 icon and Visul Studio 2012 icon only.

tip Tip:
Although script files are not case sensitive automatic regions (and whole NSIS/Inno Setup integration in Visual Studio) is case sensitive! If regions are not created then probably you have mistake in your syntax.

Automatic regions (=keywords) should be placed on the beginning of the line followed with a space.

Parsing large script files may take a while - to achieve best performance you can turn this feature off.

Complete linkage to the solution build process

With NSISProject icon NSIS Project and InnoSetupProject icon Inno Setup Project you can do everything you used to do with your projects.

They support Configuration Managerconfiguration manager
Configuration Manager
, Batch Buildbatch build
Batch Build
, you can set Project Dependenciesproject dependencies
Project Dependencies
, Project Build Orderproject build order
Project Build Order
and and many more properties.
Working with projects is easy and also it is possible to adjust properties for each project item (file)!
Launch a Visual Studio, load your solution directly from Start pagestart page
Start page
and work can begin!

Inno Setup Form Designer / NSIS Form Designer

RAD & Installer is perfect tool for quick & easy creating Inno Setup icon Inno Setup or NSIS icon NSIS forms (custom installer pages).

Because both installation systems NSIS icon NSIS and Inno Setup icon Inno Setup are script based, the installers forms are created manually by writing the code in editor.
And that is really simple with provided features like IntelliSense Complete Word (Ctrl + Space)Complete Word (Ctrl + Space)
Complete Word (Ctrl + Space)
, Quick Info Quick Info
Quick Info
, Parameter InfoParameter Info
Parameter Info
, Member CompletionMember Completion
Member Completion
and many other!
Also you can use help of Code SnippetsCode Snippets Templates
Code Snippets
to insert most often used pieces of code and whole form is created within few minutes.
See the Inno Setup icon Inno Setup or NSIS icon NSIS documentation for more details about creating custom forms.

New project from Script

You can easily create new NSISProject icon NSISProject and InnoSetupProject icon InnoSetupProject from your existing script file(s).
Right click the Solution node in the Solution Explorer, select New Project from Script and select your existing script file (*.nsi for NSIS or *.iss for Inno Setup).
Script file is loaded and parsed and new project is created in the Solution. Project is saved in the same dierctory as script file so the script file can be immediately compiled.

Quick jump from Error List window

Did you used to double-click the error message in Error List to quickly jump to wrong line if some error occurred in your code? This is working for NSIS and InnoSetup Projects too! Detailed error description and location is shown in this list everytime something wrong happens during compilation of the script. Do not lose your time navigating among lines and files. Double click the error and correct file is immediately opened and error line highlighted!

Colorized Output Window

Sometimes you need to check the output of compiler (in the Output Window) for results. If compiler's output is very verbosed it may be difficult to find errors or warnings.
This feature colorize lines with errors and warnings in the Output Window (for NSIS and Inno Setup) so they can be recognized easily.

This feature can be adjusted in Settings dialog (Category General).
* Visul Studio 2010 icon and Visul Studio 2012 icon only.

Go To support

If you used to use Go To... commands in Visual Studio IDE you can use them also for your NSIS and Inno Setup scripts!
Simply move cursor on word (variable, function, macro, symbol, ...) and pres any Go To shortcut. All commands are also available through the right-click.
Currently all three commands: Go To Definition (default shortcut is F12), Go To Declaration (Ctrl+F12) and Go To Reference will move the cursor to the line where underlying symbol is defined.

tip Tip:
nsis tooltip Anytime you see a ToolTip (when you move mouse over some word in editor) you can use Go To feature.
Also you can use Go To feature for all items shown in Navigation Bars.

Inno Setup users can also use Go To feature on "{cm:...}, {code:...}, {ini:...}, {reg:...}" constants.

Go To also works on included files - use F12 to open file at cursor.

Find References

Useful feature for large scripts. You can quickly display all occurences of desired item in whole script file.
Click any word in editor and select Find References from context menu (default shortcut is Alt+Shift+F, you can assign it manually). Find References window shows up and all found matches are displayed (in bold) with additional details.

By double-clicking the item in the results list you can quickly jump to the found occurence.


In NSISProject icon NSIS almost all items from Navigation Bar (right drop-down box called Members) are supported:
Icon Type Font style Example
intellisense icon Local variable - Var variable
intellisense icon Global variable Bold Var /GLOBAL globalVar
intellisense icon Function - Function MyFunction
intellisense icon Callback Underline Function .onInit
intellisense icon Uninstall function Italic Function "un.Function"
intellisense icon Page Creator/Leave - Page Custom ShowPage
intellisense icon UninstPage Creator/Leave Italic UninstPage Custom ShowUnPage
intellisense icon Defined symbol - !define DEBUG
intellisense icon Macro Italic !macro MY_MACRO


In InnoSetupProject icon Inno Setup these items from Navigation Bar (Right drop-down box called Members) are supported:
Icon Type Font style Example
intellisense icon Global variable Bold GlobalVar: String
intellisense icon Variable - I: Integer;
intellisense icon Function - function GetData(): Integer;
intellisense icon Procedure Italic procedure CountItems();
intellisense icon External Function - function F; external '<dllfunctionname>@<dllfilename>';
intellisense icon External Procedure Italic procedure P; external '<dllprocname>@<dllfilename>';
intellisense icon Symbol - #define DEBUG
intellisense icon Public Symbol Bold #define public NAME

tip Tip:
Right click the References control to show its Popup menu.

From this menu you can perform many additional useful actions like Find text, Copy, Cut, Delete, Clear, Check, etc. which works with references found in script file.

You can also use shortcuts for these actions.












Rename References

References found using Find References features can be easily renamed with this feature.
Enter the new name, check/uncheck item you want to rename and click the Rename button (or press Enter).

By double-clicking the item in the results list you can quickly jump to the renamed occurence.

Note: By default Symbols (${} or {#}) are not recognized (also not found by Find References feature) in string literals!

tip Tip:
You do not need to write $, ${} (NSISProject icon NSIS) or {#} (InnoSetupProject icon Inno Setup). They are added automatically (if necessarry).

You can press Enter (instead of clicking the Rename button) to rename references quickly and save some time!
Click the Copy button to copy content of References Window into Clipboard (as text).

Hints and tips for writing scripts

Do not waste your time searching manuals and guides. If you make an error in your NSISProject icon NSISProject, Visual & Installer compiler can help you!

Check the warnings list - for every NSIS command and preprocessor directive correct syntax is shown - to help you write your installer faster!

* NSISProject icon NSIS Project only

Code optimizations

Visual & Installer compiler keeps an eye on your code. If you forget to remove some unreferenced item you will get an warning.

Unused or unreferenced install/uninstall Functions, Variables, global/regular Labels and other items are recognized. Clean up your script and save memory!

* NSISProject icon NSIS Project only

Opening script files (Go To file)

This feature is very similar to Go To feature but works only for recognized script files (*.nsi/*.nsh and *.iss).
On line which contains directive !include "some_file.nsh/.nsi" (for NSISProject icon NSIS Project)
or #include "some_file.iss" (for InnoSetupProject icon Inno Setup Project) you can press Go To Definition (default shortcut is F12) and the file at cursor position will be opened in Visual Studio editor.
File is immediately parsed and it's syntax colorized, user defined symbols, variables, functions, ... are loaded and file is ready to use.

IntelliSense Code Snippets support

Visual & Installer includes a code library consisting of several tens pieces of code, called IntelliSense Code snippets, that are ready to be inserted in your script (for both NSISProject icon NSISProject and InnoSetupProject icon InnoSetupProject).
Each snippet performs some task such as declaring variable, creating function or section, writing condition or loop. You can insert a snippet into your source code with a few mouse clicks.
Snippets starts with _ and consists up to 4 characters for quick inserting.

Use them and write your code faster and easier!

Creating custom Code Snippets

You can create your own snippets that suit your business needs, add them to the library, and then use them when needed.
Snippets are simple .xml files with .snippet extension and they follow the same rules as other (C#/Visual Basic/JavaScript/...) Visual Studio snippets. Read Creating Code Snippets article on MSDN to learn more about snippets basics.
Visual & Installer snippets are stored separately for every version of Visual Studio - so you can create different snippets for various VS versions.
Snippets are stored globally for ALL users, per-user snippets (located in C:\Users\%user_name%\Documents\Visual Studio %edition%\Code Snippets) are not supported!

Follow these few simple rules for creating custom snippets:

  • All snippets should start with '_' to avoid collision with IntelliSense Complete Word functionality
  • Snippets must be stored in these directories:
    • %InstallRoot%\NSIS Language\Snippets\%LCID%\User Defined\ - for NSISProject icon NSISProject
    • %InstallRoot%\InnoSetup Language\Snippets\%LCID%\User Defined\ - for InnoSetupProject icon InnoSetupProject
  • %InstallRoot% is root installation folder for Visual Studio (for example C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio 8)
  • %LCID% is Locale ID (this is 1033 for English)
  • Snippets must be valid .xml files with .snippet extension following the Code Snippets XMLSchema Reference.

Plug-ins recognition

Visual & Installer scans NSIS Plugins directory instead of you and shows you all possible commands.
Do not look for manuals, documentation - simply hit Ctrl+Space and all possible exports are immediately shown.
Write your installers quickly and without useless errors!

* NSISProject icon NSIS Project only

nsLanguage (nsL Assembler) support

nsL Assembler (nsLanguage) is a free high-level language for NSIS (* This feature is for NSISProject icon NSIS Project only)
Visual & Installer is World's first editor which offers such functionality as syntax highlighting, code completion for nsLanguage!
With nsLanguage you can write your scripts faster, safer and in the same style as you used to write your code!

nsL is detected automatically and if installed then all *.nsl files in your NSISProject icon NSISProject are compiled by this tool.
You can download latest version of nsLanguage from here (~700 kB) for free.
To have nsL Assembler working properly from Visual & Installer it MUST be installed into NSIS directory - the correct path to this tool should look like "${NSISDIR}\NSL\nsL.bat".
Some features of nsL:

  • The nsL assembler takes nsL code and translates it into NSIS script which can then be compiled into an NSIS installation wizard.
  • nsL has a uniform syntax that is similar to familiar programming languages such as C and Java.
  • Complex expressions can be written freely while being assembled into basic NSIS instructions.
  • Functions are defined and called much like they are in C and Java with the additional syntax for multiple return values.
  • nsL introduces assemble time scope checking of variables as well as automatic declaration and support for global variables declaration and initialization.
  • nsL also provides more powerful pre-processor directives such as macros which can have multiple inputs and outputs, just like run-time functions.


Full version control system support

If you are working on a large projects with multiple files, together with other people you know the situation: after some time without using Source Code Control (SCC) system the development chaos begins... It is possible to integrate various Source Code Control providers into Visual Studio: Team Foundation Server (TFS), Visual SourceSafe, CVS, SVN, etc. You can use them on your NSIS and InnoSetup Projects and your development will be smooth!

Dynamic help system

Visual & Installer is really high tied with Visual Studion and also with NSIS and Inno Setup. If you used to use dynamic help system in your preferred programming language you can use it also for NSIS language and Inno Setup language.
Simply press F1 anytime you need a help and appropriate help (manual file) will be opened. Dymanic help is of course context sensitive! If you are not use about some parameter of you need more info about command then select it and press F1 - again manual is opened and selected item is immediately searched.
No more need for googling or looking for manuals is necessary. Save your time!

MessageBox Designer

Enables you to create (insert) MessageBox in your NSISProject icon NSIS script or InnoSetupProject icon Inno Setup script.
With this handy feature you do not need to manually write the code but you only select design of your desired MessageBox and appropriate code is pasted on cursor position.
Save a lot of time! Simply Right click MessageBox designer
MessageBox Designer
in Code Editor and select MessageBox designer. In designer you can Preview the MessageBox so you immediately see how it looks like! Also you can define result - which button was clicked - and appropriate code is generated MessageBox designer - code is generated
MessageBox Designer - code is generated
and pasted into editor.





tip Tip: The 'MessageBox Designer' item is not present in right click menu in Visual Studio 2015 and 2017.
To use this feature from Visual Studio 2015 and 2017 run standalone application MessageBoxDesigner.exe in the installation directory.

Cross-version compatibility for all Visual Studio versions

When you create NSISProject icon NSISProject or InnoSetupProject icon InnoSetupProject it is stored among other project types (C#/Visual Basic/C++/...) in your solution.
But Visual & Installer projects are designed with Cross-version compatibility for all versions of Visual Studio! (currently 2005, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2015). That means you can create the project (.nsisproj or .innoproj) in one IDE
(e.g. VS 2005) and open it later in another IDE (e.g. VS 2012) without any upgrade or conversion of project!
So you do not need to worry about "What happens when your IDE will become unsupported or outdated"!

Version checking and updating

It is very important to keep your software up-to-date. The latest software release contains important fixes and updates which may prevent many troubles during your work with the software.
Visual & Installer offers version checking at Visual Studio start (can be turned On or Off in Settings dialog) and manual checking.
The updater reads latest version info from our servers and offers you to download and install new version (if available). It also checks for latest NSISProject icon NSIS and InnoSetupProject icon Inno Setup versions so you do not need to visit their websites!

Dark Theme(s) support

Many programmers who work with a computer on daily basis can confirm that looking at a monitor or display for a long time is killing their eyes. Especially the light white colors are bad. That is a reason why more and more people prefer dark themes above light ones.
Visual & Installer contains support for dark themes in Visual Studio. If the Dark Theme option is turned on (Default is Off) the Text Editor and appropriate dialogs (Find ReferencesDark theme in Find References dialog
Dark theme in Find References dialog
, ...) are drawn with dark colors which is very similar to High contrast option in Windows.

Dark theme is detected automatically during installation and you can adjust it in Settings dialog (which sets predefined colors for dialogs, syntax highlighting and other elements).
If you made any changes or you need to adjust colors simply configure them easily in Tools -> Options -> Environment -> Fonts and Colors dialog for NSIS Languagensis-colors
NSIS Language
, and InnoSetup Languageinno-colors
Inno Setup Language
.

This feature works in all versions of Visual Studio, however older versions (Visual Studio 2005, 2008, 2010) do not support dark themes natively you need to install 3rd party extensions.

We recommend to use Visual Studio Color Theme Editor extension. Check this topic on StackOverflow.com for more details.

Visual & Installer Settings Dialog

In this dialog (click Visual & Installer -> Settings in Visual Studio's main menu) you can adjust most of the Visual & Installer properties. Certain options are common for both projects: NSISProject icon NSISProject and InnoSetupProject icon InnoSetupProject and some are for specified feature only.

If you can see text "This feature can be adjusted in Settings dialog." then you can adjust specific feature in this dialog. Some settings may require the Project/Solution reload or Visual Studio restart.
Many of the settings have link next to themSettings dialog - links
Settings dialog - links
which will navigate you to the description of this feature (online manual).

Please notice that not each feature is present in all versions of Visual Studio. So certain options in this dialog may have no effect.
See the Visual Studio versions icons (2005, 2008: Visul Studio 2005/2008 icon   2010: Visul Studio 2010 icon   2012, 2013, 2015: Visul Studio 2012/2013/2015 icon   2017: Visul Studio 2017 icon)   or asterisk (*) for details.

Settings dialog is divided into three parts:

  • 1. Tree with categories (in the left) - Visual & Installer options are divided into several categories. Each category covers different features.
  • 2. Panel with options (in the right) - After you click category node in the Tree the right area is updated and appropriate options are shown.
  • 3. Control buttons (at the bottom) - Use the OK button to save your changes. Clicking the Cancel button discards all changes and closes the Settings dialog.