Installers Can Only Do So Much

In my response to my earlier post about why uninstallers don’t clean up user files, commenter dan suggests that uninstalling and then installing an application should erase application settings. He argues that this would at the very least help users who have applications that don’t work because, for example, the application settings have become corrupt.

The fix is tenuous at best:

  • It won’t work if the application doesn’t opt in. After all, some applications will want to save those settings.
  • It won’t work if AIR can’t determine where the settings are stored. Yes, we provide a location for that—but it’s a suggestion, and not obligatory.
  • It requires the user to intervene (uninstall/reinstall) to fix a problem the application could address for itself.

The point about corrupt user settings is valid; this can happen and effectively disable an application. And I agree, asking users to find the file containing these settings and manually delete them is unreasonable. But the truly simple fix is to code your application so that it can detect and ignore corrupt settings. Get that right, and users may never even realize something went wrong.