As many of you may know, we’ve had two different builds for the WiX toolset: one for the external world (i.e. SourceForge), and the other for the developers working on WiX inside of Microsoft. These two builds were different enough to mess things up from time to time, and at the very least was annoying trying to port from one to the other. Therefore, we’ve decided to start using a new build system. At first we thought we’d use the new and improved MSBuild system that comes with Whidbey. However, we found that it doesn’t support VC++ builds out of the box. Strike 1. We also found that it wasn’t overly intuitive on how to get started with it and maintain it. Strike 2. And to top it off, it doesn’t support building to the 1.1 .NET Framework. Strike 3.
I must say that I think the Visual Studio team has made some great improvements by introducing MSBuild in Whidbey and it’s great in a lot of circumstances, just not ours. I honestly can’t believe that it doesn’t support .NET 1.1 or build VC++ projects. Maybe next version.
Since Bob, John, and I all had previous experience with NAnt, we thought we’d try it out on WiX. So far so good. I only have a couple of the projects converted over, but the build times have greatly decreased (almost by a factor of 10), the build files are much, much more readable than our NMAKE sources/makefile.inc, and it’s just a lot more fun to use NAnt. For one thing, you have the nice IntelliSense when editing .build files in Visual Studio. Also, it should be much easier for people to build the WiX toolset from the SourceForge drop. I’m hoping that we can roll out the NAnt version within a week or two.