Skinning in Graphical Installer

Graphical Installer offers two modes for skinning - Basic and Advanced. They can be combined - but not all features can be turned on in the same time in one installer! The main difference between them is a way how many components in installer are skinned.
Please read article about NSIS installer components to understand all terms and concepts mentioned here.

Basic mode

This mode is intended for most installers. It offers possibility to skin:
  • background - picture in main Window [each page, also nsDialogs pages] - .bmp .jpg. gif picture
  • all Buttons in main Window [each page, also nsDialogs pages] - .bmp picture
  • all Scrollbars in main Window [each page, also nsDialogs pages] - .bmp picture
  • components page treelist Checkboxes - .bmp picture

On pictures below is the same installer (main Window, Browse for folder dialog and Language selection dialog from plug-in) skinned in Basic mode and running on Windows XP | Window 7

Window XP
Window 7
Window XP Window 7

Window XP Window 7


When this mode is used all installer frames use current Windows® theme: frames for main Window and for Dialogs. That means installer will look different on Windows 2000/Windows XP/Windows 7...
In this mode it is possible [by using XPStyle on|off] to force controls to use the new XP style when running on Windows XP. This affects the uninstaller too.

See next pictures, on each picture is the same message box using current Windows theme in Windows XP - XP style OFF | Window 7 - XP style OFF and below Windows XP - XP style ON | Window 7 - XP style ON.


Windows XP - XP style OFF Windows XP - XP style ON

Windows 7 - XP style OFF Windows 7 - XP style ON

+ very simple for users

- not all controls can be skinned
- XPStyle ON is not compatible with CheckBox and RadioButton controls on LicensePage and FinishPage [there is a black rectangle under them] This is common bug in many Windows application, we recommend to turn XPStyle off.

Advanced mode

Recommended only for experienced users!
This mode is based on skin files: single file with defined pictures, colors and styles for every control.
For skinning installers we use third party's NSIS plug-in called SkinCrafter. However we use SkinCrafter native format many skins need to be modified to be usable in Graphical Installer!

Currently we support these formats:
  • SkinCrafter skins [*.skf] - this is default format we use
  • SkinCrafter skins with compression [*.skfx]
  • Microsoft Styles [*.msstyles] - import only
  • MSXML format [*.xml] - import only

In this mode every control in installer can be skinned - also all dialogs and message boxes:
  • background of main Window [each page, also nsDialogs pages] - only solid color!
  • Window, dialogs and message boxes frames
  • all Buttons in main Window [each page, also nsDialogs pages]
  • all Scrollbars in main Window [each page, also nsDialogs pages]
  • all CheckBoxes [each page, also nsDialogs pages]
  • all Radiobuttons [each page, also nsDialogs pages]
  • all Static texts
  • all Progress bars
  • all List controls, headers, Spins, Status bars and many other common window controls, even some .NET controls!

Skinned installer
Skinned installer
Skinned installer

Please remember that component skin is set for all group of the components with the same type! If you set yellow colour for "Button" components every component of type "Button" will be skinned - in main Window, in Dialogs even in MessageBoxes! It is not possible to have blue buttons in main Window and unskinned Buttons in message boxes! [just example]
Also if you set skin for Frame all windows, dialogs and message boxes will use the same skin. Frame skin overrides default Windows theme so installer will look the same on every version of Windows.

+ every components can be skinned

- graphic glitches in some components [check box, radio button, static text]
- some plug-ins have trouble with skinning

There may be some limitations in combination of Basic mode and Advanced mode, we will gladly help you with choosing the right mode, feel free to ask!

Skinning of some components MUST be turned off if you want to use them with background picture in Basic mode! Especially Radio buttons, Check boxes and Static texts!

Our team is working hard on Graphical Installer and we are improving it every day. However there may be some bugs or problems in this product. Please let us know about such situations.

unSigned Softworks team