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Troubleshooting InstallShield: What to Do When The DLL Being Called Fails to Load


How to Fix The DLL Being Called Encountered a Problem in InstallShield




InstallShield is a software tool that allows you to create installation packages for your applications. It supports various types of custom actions, such as calling functions inside DLLs, to perform specific tasks during the installation process.




installshield the dll being called encountered a problem


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However, sometimes you might encounter an error message that says "the dll being called encountered a problem" or "unable to load a dll" when you try to use a custom action that calls a DLL function. This can happen for various reasons, such as:


  • The DLL file is missing or corrupted.



  • The DLL file has dependencies that are not found or loaded.



  • The DLL file is not compatible with the installation platform or mode.



  • The DLL file is not written or wrapped correctly for InstallShield.



In this article, we will explain how to troubleshoot and fix this error in InstallShield, using some examples and solutions from the web.


Check the DLL file and its location




The first thing you should do is to check if the DLL file that you are trying to call exists and is accessible. You can use Windows Explorer or Command Prompt to locate and open the DLL file. You can also use a tool like Dependency Walker to inspect the DLL file and its dependencies.


If the DLL file is missing or corrupted, you need to restore it from a backup or a reliable source. If the DLL file is located on an external media, such as a CD-ROM or a network drive, you need to make sure that it is properly inserted or connected.


You also need to check if the DLL file is placed in the correct folder for InstallShield to find it. Depending on the type of custom action that you are using, the DLL file should be placed in one of these folders:


  • If you are using an InstallScript custom action with UseDLL function, the DLL file should be placed in SUPPORTDIR, which is a temporary folder created by InstallShield during the installation.



  • If you are using a standard DLL custom action, the DLL file should be placed in Binary table of your installation project, which is embedded in your installation package.



  • If you are using a managed code custom action with DotNetCoCreateObject or CoCreateObjectDotNet function, the DLL file should be placed in INSTALLDIR, which is the installation folder of your application.



Check the DLL dependencies and compatibility




The next thing you should do is to check if the DLL file has any dependencies that are not found or loaded by InstallShield. A dependency is another DLL file that provides some functionality or resources for your DLL file. For example, if your DLL file is written in C#, it might depend on .NET Framework assemblies.


You can use a tool like Dependency Walker to analyze your DLL file and its dependencies. It will show you which dependencies are missing or have errors. You can also use Process Monitor to monitor the file system activity of your installation and see which files are accessed or failed to access by InstallShield.


If your DLL file has any dependencies, you need to make sure that they are available and accessible for InstallShield. You can do one of these things:


  • Copy the dependencies to the same folder as your DLL file, so that they can be found by InstallShield.



  • Add the dependencies to Binary table of your installation project, so that they can be extracted by InstallShield.



  • Add the dependencies to GAC (Global Assembly Cache) of your target system, so that they can be loaded by InstallShield.



  • Add the folder path of your dependencies to PATH environment variable of your target system, so that they can be located by InstallShield.



You also need to check if your DLL file is compatible with the installation platform or mode. For example, if your DLL file is compiled for 64-bit architecture, it might not work on a 32-bit system. Or if your DLL file is compiled for debug mode, it might not work on a release mode system.


You can use a tool like PE Explorer or CorFlags to check the architecture and mode of your DLL file. You can also use Visual Studio or other development tools to recompile your DLL file for different architectures and modes.


Check the DLL wrapping and calling




The last thing you should do is to check if your DLL file is written or wrapped correctly for InstallShield. Depending on the type of custom action that you are using, your DLL file should follow some rules and conventions for InstallShield to call it successfully.


  • If you are using an InstallScript custom action with UseDLL function, your DLL file should be a standard Win32 DLL that exports functions with __stdcall calling convention and uses basic data types as parameters and return values. You also need to declare prototypes for your functions in InstallScript code before calling them.



  • If you are using a standard DLL custom action, your DLL file should be a standard Win32 DLL that exports one function named DllEntry with __stdcall calling convention and uses MSIHANDLE as parameter and UINT as return value. You also need to specify the name of your function and its parameters in Custom Action Wizard of InstallShield.



  • If you are using a managed code custom action with DotNetCoCreateObject or CoCreateObjectDotNet function, your DLL file should be a .NET assembly that exposes classes with COM interop attributes and uses basic data types as parameters and return values. You also need to register your assembly for COM interop on your target system before calling it.



If your DLL file does not follow these rules and conventions, you need to rewrite it or wrap it with another DLL that does. You can use tools like Visual Studio or other development tools to create or modify your DLL files for InstallShield.


Conclusion




In this article, we have explained how to troubleshoot and fix "the dll being called encountered a problem" or "unable to load a dll" error in InstallShield. We have covered some common causes and solutions for this error, such as checking the DLL file and its location, checking the DLL dependencies and compatibility, and checking the DLL wrapping and calling.


If you want to learn more about InstallShield and how to use it for creating installation packages for your applications, you can visit its official website. If you have any questions or feedback about this article, you can leave a comment below or contact us on Twitter.


Examples and Solutions for The DLL Being Called Encountered a Problem in InstallShield




In this section, we will provide some examples and solutions for the error "the dll being called encountered a problem" or "unable to load a dll" in InstallShield. We will use some real cases from the web and show you how to apply the troubleshooting steps that we have explained in the previous section.


Example 1: Install Shield, How to check the exit code but not show error?




This example is taken from Stack Overflow, where a user asked how to check the exit code of a custom action that calls an EXE file without showing an error message to the user.


The user had a custom action that runs in the very beginning of their Install Shield project. The custom action calls an EXE file that is a form with a next and cancel button. If the user cancels, the install should not proceed, if they select next, it should. The user checked the exit code of the custom action to determine the user's choice, but they did not want to show an InstallShield error message when the user cancels.


The solution was to wrap the EXE file in a MSI DLL custom action, which can return different status indicators, such as success, failure, or user cancelled. The user also had to change the error message to say "User Cancelled Installation" instead of "The DLL being called encountered a problem".


Here are the steps that the user followed to fix this problem:


  • Create a MSI DLL custom action that calls the EXE file using CreateProcess function and waits for its exit code.



  • If the exit code is zero, return ERROR_SUCCESS.



  • If the exit code is non-zero, return ERROR_INSTALL_USEREXIT.



  • Add the MSI DLL custom action to Binary table of their installation project.



  • Replace their original custom action with the MSI DLL custom action in Custom Action Wizard.



  • Edit their installation project's UI sequence and add a condition for ExitDialog that checks if ERROR_INSTALL_USEREXIT is set.



  • Change the text of ExitDialog's description control to say "User Cancelled Installation".



Example 2: InstallShield UseDLL() doesn't find dll dependencies in the same directory




This example is taken from Stack Overflow, where a user asked why their InstallScript custom action with UseDLL() function fails to find DLL dependencies in the same directory.


The user had a DLL file that they tried to load during the installation with UseDLL() function in one of their installscripts. The DLL file had two DLL dependencies that were located in the same directory as the main DLL file. When they built the installation with an older version of InstallShield, it found the dependencies and worked fine. When they tried to build it with InstallShield 2016, it failed because it did not find the dependencies.


The solution was to use SetDllDirectoryW() function before calling UseDLL() function to add SUPPORTDIR to DLL search path. This way, InstallShield could find and load the dependencies from SUPPORTDIR, which is a temporary folder created by InstallShield during the installation.


Here are the steps that the user followed to fix this problem:


  • Add prototype for SetDllDirectoryW() function at the top of their installscript.



  • Call SetDllDirectoryW(SUPPORTDIR) in a function before calling UseDLL() function.



  • Copy their main DLL file and its dependencies to SUPPORTDIR during OnFirstUIBefore event.



  • Call UseDLL() function with SUPPORTDIR as part of DLL file path.



Example 3: Calling function inside C# DLL




This example is taken from Flexera Community, where a user asked how to call a function inside a C# DLL from their installation project.


The user had a C# DLL file that they wanted to call from their installation project. They tried to use a standard DLL custom action and a managed code custom action with DotNetCoCreateObject or CoCreateObjectDotNet function, but they got an error message that says "the dll being called encountered a problem" or "unable to load a dll".


The solution was to register their C# DLL file for COM interop on their target system before calling it. This way, InstallShield could create and use COM objects from their C# DLL file.


Here are the steps that the user followed to fix this problem:


  • Add COM interop attributes to their C# classes and methods that they wanted to expose for InstallShield.



  • Build their C# project with Register for COM interop option enabled.



  • Add their C# DLL file and its dependencies to INSTALLDIR of their installation project.



  • Create a managed code custom action with DotNetCoCreateObject or CoCreateObjectDotNet function that calls their C# class and method by name.



  • Add a condition for their managed code custom action that checks if .NET Framework is installed on target system.



Conclusion




In this article, we have explained how to troubleshoot and fix "the dll being called encountered a problem" or "unable to load a dll" error in InstallShield. We have covered some common causes and solutions for this error, such as checking the DLL file and its location, checking the DLL dependencies and compatibility, and checking the DLL wrapping and calling. We have also provided some examples and solutions for this error from the web.


If you want to learn more about InstallShield and how to use it for creating installation packages for your applications, you can visit its official website. If you have any questions or feedback about this article, you can leave a comment below or contact us on Twitter. 4e3182286b


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