Creating a setup package/installer isn't glamorous. It's sometimes a pain and usually one of the last things you do.
Yet it's arguably one of the most important.
Your installer/setup is the first thing your users will see and you know what they say about first impressions. It's also one of the scarier things since your poking stuff onto your user's systems. Stuff you're also responsible for making sure gets removed too.
Microsoft helps with the Windows Installer, taking care of much of the infrastructure and grunt work. This leaves you with just needing to build the MSI's.
While the Visual Studio Setup and Package/Installer Projects can do an good job for simple setups/MSI's (though that has been declared dead, end of life'd, retired, won't seem them in the future, etc) as can Install Shield LE, when you need "more guns" you've usually been stuck paying a good buck or two.
That's were WiX comes in. WiX is free as in free, is open source itself, and can be used to build very impressive and professional Setup's. And if WiX can't do it, there are probably WiX Extensions that can...
WiX v3.5 delivers official support for Visual Studio 2010 and IIS7. The standard UI also supports a quite few more languages (but not all of those) and we simplified the WiX language a bit. Plus there are a bunch of bug fixes in WiX v3.5 that makes this release the best version of the core WiX toolset ever released.
What is WiX you ask?
Introduction to Windows Installer XML (WiX) toolset
What is WiX?
WiX is a set of tools that allows you to create Windows Installer-based deployment packages for your application. The WiX toolset is based on a declarative XML authoring model. You can use WiX on the command line by using the WiX tools or MSBuild. In addition, there is also a WiX Visual Studio plug-in that supports VS2005, VS2008, and VS2010. The WiX toolset supports building the following types of Windows Installer files:
- Installer (.msi)
- Patches (.msp)
- Merge Modules (.msm)
- Transforms (.mst)
- WiX supports a broad spectrum of Windows Installer features. In addition, WiX also offers a set of built-in custom actions that can be used and incorporated in Windows Installer packages. The custom actions are offered in a set of WiX extensions. Some common WiX extensions include support for Internet Information System (IIS), Structured Query Language (SQL), the .NET Framework, Visual Studio, and Windows etc.
I'm supposed to try to include a view images or pictures in these posts... Since we're dev-to-dev here, about about a WinDirStat snapshot of the source for WiX 3.5?
Did I also say there's doc's too?
If you're not afraid of a little XML, if you are there are tools to help, and want the the full power of Windows Installer at your beck and call, or just interested to see how to build a installer like project, then WiX just might be your ticket.
Here’s a few more links you might find interesting:
- Building a database installer with WiX, datadude and Visual Studio 2010
- IsWix, "Industrial Strength Windows Installer XML ( IsWiX ) is a document editor based on the Fireworks Application Framework. IsWiX enables non-setup developers to collaborate with setup developers using WiX projects
- Augmenting InstallShield (LE) using Windows Installer XML - Certificates & Augmenting InstallShield (LE) using Windows Installer XML - Windows Services
- WiX Resources – Some help up the learning curve