Checking in on the Windows Installer XML (WiX) toolset development environments.

After getting the latest round of bug fixes posted in the WiX 2.0.1713.0 release yesterday morning, I decided to check in on the other projects on SourceForge to create development environments for the WiX toolset.  When the WiX toolset was first released, I used to check in on these projects all the time.  However, after a couple weeks of absolu tely no activity I feared they were all DOA (Jenny real ly enjoys that show, by the way).

I started with WiXStudio because the project admin, Terry, was very gung-ho about the project.  We even exchanged a numb er of email messages right after the WiX toolset was released.  Terry dug i nto the object model pretty quickly and determined that the XmlSerializer classe s provided by the core wix.dll weren't going to provide a friendly enough progra mming model.  So, I suggested considering creating a CodeDom of sorts for WiX source files.  Terry jumped on the idea and promptly disappeared.  Well, it turns out Terry has a blog and has posted an entry about the current progress of WiXStudio .  I've subscribed to the RSS feed in hopes more progress appears soon.

Since I felt caught up on the status of WiXStudio, I went back to SourceForge 's search and found the other three WiX development environment projects.  Terry's blog mentioned talking to the WiXGUI project members so I clicked on that one first.  While it appears the project has had more page hits that the WiXStudio project, there is absolutely no other progress displayed on SourceForge.  It appears the onl ine forums have even been disabled.

I then checked out the . NET Installation Generator project.  This project had even fewer hits t han the WiXGUI project and the same amount of progress (i.e. none).  If any one has any news on either of these projects, please feel free to leave a commen t below.  I'm curious if things are progressing silently behind closed door s or something.

Anyway, I was a little disappointed no one had anything working yet so I had low expectations when I went to check the last tool on the list, WiXTool.  Needless to say, I was qui te pleased to see that it actually had files to download.  I downloaded the MSI file (the source code is unfortunately under GPL so I'll be staying away fr om that) and tried to install it.  The package wouldn't install so I pulled it up in Orca and ran basic validation.  There are several serious authoring errors in there (which is unfortunate since it seems the MSI was created by the WiX toolset, guess there are places to tweak down) including missing platform inform ation in the _SummaryInformation stream.  I tweaked the _SummaryInformation stream, tried installing again, and got the executable installed on my machine (but no shortcut since that contained one of the more serious validation errors).  The UI looks pretty basic and straight-forward.  None of the graphical editing seemed to work but the XML editor looked pretty decent. I didn't play with it much after that (just uninstalled the tool), but it was nice to see one of the WiX development environment tools on SourceForge making progress.

Anyway, I will continue to keep an eye on things to see if anything develops.   Hopefully one of these projects will take off.  Lots of people have asked for a decent development environment for the Windows Installer XML toolset and I personally have very little interest in doing any UI-related work.  The WiX toolset keeps me busy enough as it is.

Updated: Fixed a typo in URL and removed a couple invalid spaces

Comments (6)

  1. Terry Denham says:


    I’m still here but had to table the WixStudio for a while due to needing to release our WinForms framework for the company I work for to our internal teams.

    Also I work on the ASP.NET Forums and have been swamped with getting the beta 2 release out the door.

    I was making good progress with the WiXStudio but ran into some problems with getting the object model to deserialize/serialize correctly so that is where it’s at presently.

    I did receive an offer to help from someone this last week and look forward to adding more but I need to find away to work on all 3 without getting myself spread to thin.

    Thanks for the plug and I’ll see about getting the CodeDOM wrapped up (that was the thing holding me back) and then I can upload what I already have with design time support for dialogs.

  2. James Geurts says:

    Rob, I mentioned this before, but it might have gotten lost in a sea of comments… I’ve been working on a project to convert vdproj files to other formats, WiX xml being one of them.

  3. Dennis Jenkins says:

    This morning I wrote a command line tool that dumps a portion of the registry as a WXI file of "Registry" elements. I wrote it for internal use, it does what I want. However, I see no reason to keep it bottled up here. I have no desire to post it to source forge, but if someone is interested, I’ll send it to them and they can host it.

    It has three bugs that I know of:

    1) REG_SZ strings are not escaped.

    2) Does not support Unicode. Uses the ANSI Win32 API functions to access the registry. Output is in ANSI.

    3) Only supports REG_SZ, REG_DWORD and REG_BINARY. REG_BINARY output is untest inside WiX. We don’t use it.

    The source is a single 300 line c++ file. It should compile out of the box with MSDEV 6.0.

    The license would be public domain. The code is nothing sacred nor does it represent any great leap of intellectual property.

    Any takers?

    ps- It would be nice if someone ported it to .NET and convinced Rob to add it to WiX as an additional tool.

  4. Dennis,

    Interesting you should bring this up. I’m currently working on a proposal to create a tool that is a "swiss army knife" of source file processing. I think the new tool could be a place to add code to address your situation here. More thoughts coming in the not too distant future.

  5. Walter says:

    There was a new release of the WixTool on June 16th.

  6. WixEdit v0.2.5 was released today.

    Looks nice to me… 😉 It has been active since march 2005, and the progress on this project seems steady for now. (

    It uses the wix.xsd to determine what elements can be created while editing the wix-xml files, so it isn’t very sensitive to changes in the wix xml definitions. You can specify any version of the xsd by pointing to the wix bin directory containing the wix.xsd in the settings dialog.

    At least you can follow the progress of this project at the website.

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