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Windows Installer XML Toolset released

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Stefan Krueger

Stefan Krueger


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Posted 10 April 2004 - 18:38

(To some of you this may be old news but I was at a Microsoft conference all week and just catching up with the news)

The Windows Installer Xml (WiX) toolset has been released as open source to SourceForge.net. WiX is a toolset composed of a compiler, a linker, a lib tool and a decompiler. The compiler, called candle, is used to compile XML source code into object files that contain symbols and references to symbols. The linker, called light, is fed one or more object files and links the references in the object files to the appropriate symbols in other object files. Light is also responsible for collecting all of the binaries, packaging them appropriately, and generating the final MSI or MSM file. The lib tool, called lit, is an optional tool that can be used to combine multiple object files into libraries that can be consumed by light. Finally, the decompiler, called dark, can take existing MSI and MSM files and generate XML source code that represents the package.

WiX doesn't include a GUI frontend to create the project files. Instead you should use your preferred XML editor.

The tool was created by Rob Mensching (and some other contributors). Rob is a Microsoft employee who has been working on the first version of the MSI engine and Orca. He created the tool in his free time, so - despite what you may have read in the press - this is not Microsoft going Open Source. However WiX is being used by several teams inside Microsoft to create their setups, which indicates that the MSIs it creates are production quality.



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Posted 12 May 2004 - 17:41

I think WiX is the biggest change to the MSI-setup world since MSI 1.0 itself:

1. Politically: Maybe this is not Microsoft going Open Source in general, but this is more than only a private programmer publishing another toolset.
It is the first tool where Microsoft-owned sourcecode is published as Open Source !
(Every sourcefile is copyrighted by Microsoft, and Microsoft lawyers have decided about the details, how and if to publish) And that this happened to a setup tool is maybe occasion, but we setup develeopers shouldn´t hide that shining to our so often underestimated field :-)

2. It will change the economic situation in the setup tool market, I am sure.
Regards, Phil


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Posted 14 June 2004 - 11:45

I read some of Rob's blogs, and I do agree with him that all source files for a project, including the installer, should be in a readable format so that changes can easily be tracked. Using XML "source files" to compile a setup sounds good, but I wonder how well it really works. Have any of you guys tried out this tool?

Edited by Glytzhkof, 14 June 2004 - 11:46.

-Stein Åsmul