Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tools for developing with WiX

If you are new to WiX or have only heard of WiX, it stands for "Windows Installer XML".

This standard was created by Microsoft several years ago to simplify the process of developing Windows Installer (MSI) files and storing them in source control.

Because the underlying code is simply XML with a specific schema, you can use pretty much any text editor to develop WiX packages.

Of course, to begin developing with WiX, you will need to install the WiX Toolset which can be downloaded from here: http://wixtoolset.org/

Once you have installed this, you can begin developing your WiX packages from within Visual Studio and leverage Visual Studio's Intellisense while composing your WiX files.

Of course, if you are like most people, you probably prefer a UI similar to InstallShield or Advanced Installer in order to create and build these WiX packages.

Well, unfortunately, unlike Windows Installer companies of which there are many numerous tools (NSIS, InnoSetup, InstallShield, Advanced Installer, InstallAware etc.), there are only a handful of tools that provide a GUI/UI over composing WiX packages.

Several years ago, InstallAware released a tool called WiXAware that provided a very good UI for developing WiX packages, however, this product seems to have disappeared from the InstallAware website.

There are 2 other tools that I know of for developing WiX packages with somewhat reduced UI capabilities compared to WiXAware, but here they are:

Therefore, if you choose to foray into the world of WiX for developing your Windows Installer packages, these UI toolsets may aid you in reaching your goals.

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