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Monday, December 4, 2006

Adventures in my first WiX Aware Installer

InstallAware has released WiXAware 1.0 For Wix (Beta) today. I've downloaded and played with it a little and it seems pretty promising for a first release. There are a few things that didn't work but it's definitely worth downloading to evaluate.

Here are my first impressions.... I know it's a beta, but these are the things that I found disappointing:

Many dialogs don't have their default control or cancel control set. This is minor but it's very annoying when your trying to get a good first impression. It really shouldn't be that difficult to derive from a class that provides this functionality automatically.

The default project location is C:\Program Files\InstallAware\WiXAware\WixAware Projects. This is brand new software, it should be better then this. I haven't tried running this on Vista yet but I suspect it's going to be requiring the elevated token. While we are at it, there is no check box asking to make a directory for the project. This is typically present and helps the developer to understand where FOO is being installed ( is it WORKSPACE, WORKSPACE\FOO or WORKSPACE\FOO\FOO )

When I create a new Installation Package, I type in my company name/product name and go to pick the application icon with the browse button it sometimes throws an exception. ( File in use, it looks like a previous crashed instance of WiXAware hasn't freed up it's file lock somehow. ) Accessing the icon through the Product Information view handles the error bettter but it's still there. It would also be nice if it could look at EXE's and extract the icon resource automatically.

I created a new install, added a few assemblies and a shortcut and built it. My Product name was XXXX and CNDL1031 warned that the Directory table long name attribute was redundant and should be removed. Otherwise it worked except at run time I noted that the wizard that allowed me to rename my feature didn't left the feature Display name at the old name not the new.

Next I decided to create a custom action. It seems like the wizard dialogs are all messed up here. The first dialog is welcome the second is "Terminate this installation with an error message". Huh? I don't want to write a Type 19 CA. Then I get a CA type selection dialog that includes error terminate CAs. I select it and click next and I'm prompted for "Execute a function from a DLL file" Huh? Now I'm doing a Type 1? There is obviously a lot of work to be done here.

All in all for v1.0 beta what do I think? I like, I see a lot of promise. I had hoped to see visual studio integration since the project extension was .waproj but maybe later. This is exactly the kind of tool that WiX needs IMHO. Now just get Microsoft to buy them for alot of money, throw a lot of development resources at it and WiX and let's see where this puppy goes.


  1. Hmm, the website looks like a copycat of Advanced Installer's website ( That one's been around for years so I am pretty sure "Aware" is doing the stealing.

    I wonder if the product is a fraud as well...

  2. Hi there,

    Now, before I start, I should point out that I'm not 100% impartial. Anyone who googles about me will probably find references to be talking about InstallAware in the past; I know the InstallAware guys because I use their product - and have done for ages (well why not, I find it a lot better than InstallShield)!

    I also know about the development effort that has gone into WixAware, and can categorically say that it is NOT stolen, fraudulent or any other way underhand. It is, however, guilty of one thing. It’s a beta, so it’s a little buggy – which I can attest to, but every bug I submit always gets fixed. However, I also know the guys are working hard on fixing all reported bugs and getting an update released – so if anyone finds a bug, please report it to the WixAware team – otherwise it might not get fixed!

    The website is a different matter though – I guess they should speak to their designers ...

    Andy Neillans

  3. LOL, check this out, they got caught red handed:

    Funny, it seems that they were aware of it and are trying to milk the publicity. That's kind of disgusting...

  4. I hate to pile one thing after another but here is another company claiming that WiXAware is copying their application UI.

    I have to admit they look very much alike.

  5. WixEdit is a free tool to do the same.