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Friday, June 8, 2007

WiX / WiXAware ... thinking about the future

I've decided to spend yet another evening looking at WiX and I really do like it conceptually. While I am still disappointed that a lot of problems that WiX and other setup tools are solving aren't being solved by the Windows Installer team instead, I am slowly coming to accept this as a fact of life.

I really like Votive's ability to integrate in a solution, support MSBuild and show the XML in your WiX project. But I dislike it's limitations in not having any kind of designer view.

I also really like the concept that WiXAware has where you can switch between a GUI and an Editor. The View Designer | View Code story is definitely the place to go. But I dislike the fact that it's waproj isn't MSBuild and it doesn't support VS integration. I also dislike the fact that it seems to throw an exception just about everywhere I click and I dislike the fact that it doesn't support fragments.

But what if Microsoft just threw a bunch of money at InstallAware and bought them? What if Microsoft was to tell Rob Mensching that he had a staff of developers and that they wanted to transform WiX into a full fledged open source enterprise installation authoring tool capable of competing with InstallShield toe to toe?

And what if all of this was to be targeted for Visual Studio Orcas so that when you bought Visual Studio you'd be completely covered for deployment?

The other day I was skimming through a Microsoft Learning Course... #4339 Upgrading from Microsoft VB 6.0: Deploying .NET Framework Applications. The course was very VDRPOJ centric and a lesson introduction claimed:

Unlike the traditional deployment which involves creating script-based setup programs, Visual Studio 2005 deployment uses Windows Installer to create installers which give you complete control over the installation process.

Wow, that's a really bold claim to say VDPROJ gives you complete control over the installation process.

But WiX meets WiXAware meets Orcas..... now that could be one hell of a system. That could really get me rethinking what tools that I use. In fact, if it wasn't for the fact that I live in Texas, that's one project that I wouldn't mind working on.


  1. I have a feeling that WiX integration with VS will come one day. They are already doing it to a certain extent already, right?


  2. WiXAware certainly has the potential to KO InstallShield and become the development tool of choice.
    However, having spent most of last week clicking through errors and figuring out the quirks of an IDE that is supplied without any help, I won't be parting with any money for it just yet.
    MS buy the product? Great idea but...

  3. Anonymous-

    Yes, Votive v3 has VS/MSbuild integration, but it completly lacks any usable Code Designer. You have to like manually authoring XML using Intellisense and Code Snippets. I don't mind doing this on occasion, but it's unacceptable as the primary development means to me.


    I agree, I try to give WiXAware a try, but inevitable I see JIT exceptions everywhere I look. The only saving grace is that they `catch` them and continue the application instead of exiting. Not very pretty...

  4. WixAware has some potential, but right now it's very, very clunky. When I tried it, the MSI files it generated didn't even pass ICE validation. I was a bit surprised that it's using WiX 2.0 as well...if you want to use any features in WiX 3.0 you're out of luck.

    Frankly I'm a bit surprised anyone would even consider an InstallAware product any more in light of their questionable business tactics (see Oops, they did it again: InstallAware "inspired" by competitor's web site, Rob Mensching's blog, and Ethics 101 for examples).