Distributing an Application
Once you have the program written, how do you deliver it to users? You'll need to include the Help file, data files, resource files, and any other custom files that your program depends on.

Almost always, a single installation file is provided to users - either ZIP or EXE - which contains all the files needed to run the program.

ZIP Approach
Many programmers use this approach, where the user is required to create a folder and unzip all the files into that folder, then create a shortcut as needed to run the executable application (EXE). It's a very simple approach that works well, but many users prefer a bit more automation.

Windows XP has a built-in ability to create zip files, plus there are many freeware and commercial applications that provide more features. PKZip is perhaps the most popular commercial package. I own PKZip but more often use the freeware tool JustZipIt, which integrates into the Windows Explorer tool for convenience in selecting and zipping files.

Another unique advantage of .ZIP installation files is that many companies do not allow their employees to download EXE files. This many sites offer a ZIP installation file to support users in such situations. Often, the ZIP file simply contains the EXE installation file.

EXE Approach
Users typically prefer this approach, where the EXE not only contains the files needed for the application, but also contains a short program that will create the folder, shortcuts, and complete other tasks users have come to expect from an installation file. With this approach, the user does not have to perform any tasks except answer the questions asked by the installation software.

Application Distribution Tools
PowerBASIC does not come with a built-in tool for creating installation files, EXE or ZIP. This is not surprising with its emphasis on creating standalone applications which do not need runtime files distributed along with the EXE.

Fortunately there are a large number of freeware and commercial applications available to pick from. The freeware tools available are more than adequate for most programmer's needs. I personally use Inno Setup for creating a distribution file. It's easy to use, has lots of features, and has been around for a long time.

In addition to Inno Setup, here are several other freeware installation programs that can create your installation files.

If you have any suggestions or corrections, please let me know.