Ty Anderson

What’s new in the WiX Designer Beta 2?

Last November we introduced the WiX Designer beta 1, a product that fills the void felt by anyone that uses the now deprecated Visual Studio setup tools. We received a lot of enthusiasm and great feedback and we thank you for it.

It’s been a few months and we won’t blame you if you’ve been wondering just exactly when beta 2 will arrive. As you read in Eugene’s announcement, the product development team has been diligently working to add features and resolve issues.

Today, I want to discuss the two new features available with Beta 2:

WiX Designer – user interface editor

We’ve added the new User Interface editor that closely mimics the old Visual Studio setup projects UI editor functions. Thus, for anyone familiar with the old VS way of customizing the screen flow in the setup project, our new UI editor requires no learning curve.

To access the UI editor, you first need to add a WiX Setup project to an existing Visual Studio solution. After you do this, you right-click the setup project in the VS Solution Explorer.

Right-click the setup project in the VS Solution Explorer to access the UI editor

This action displays the menu of WiX Editors. If you click the User Interface Editor option, the user interface editor displays and is ready for your customizations.

User Interface Editor

Look familiar? Yes it does. To complete the setup project’s screen flow, you need to add some dialog screens using each install stage’s context menu (right-click menu)….

Adding a dialog screen using the context menu

And selecting your desired dialog screens.

Select your desired dialog screens.

Of course, you will need to do some configuration. For example, you need to order your screens to your preference.

Order the dialog screens to your preference.

In addition, you can customize each dialog screen’s banner image (the SplashBitmap property). The properties vary by each type of dialog screen.

Support for web setup projects

The WiX Designer Beta 1 only supported desktop setup programs. With Beta 2, we now support web application setup programs. The web is turning out to be a big deal so adding this support seemed like a good idea :)

When you add a WiX project to your web application solution, by default it is a desktop setup project. This is true even if your application is a web application. Thus, if you require a web setup, you need to the WiX setup project to a Web Application Setup.

After you add a WiX Setup project to your web application solution, open the File System Editor. This menu is also available by right-clicking the WiX project within the VS Solution Explorer.

Opening the File System Editor

To convert the project, you need to right-click the Application Folder and click Convert to Web Application Folder.

But, before you can perform the conversion, the file system needs to be clean. Meaning, delete all folder except the Application Folder. If the file system is not clean, the Convert to Web Application Folder menu button is disabled. So clean the file system by deleting everything but the Application Folder.

Clean the file system by deleting everything but the Application Folder.

Then, perform the conversion.

Click 'Convert to Web Application Folder' to convert your project to a web setup

You now have a reference to the WiX Extensions (WixllsExtension.dll) and the IIS virtual directory is ready for your additions, references, etc.

You now have a reference to the WiX Extensions (WixllsExtension.dll) and the IIS virtual directory is ready for your customization.

Two caveats for you as you work with Beta 2

It is a beta, thus we want to be aware of two actions you need to take when using Beta 2:

  1. You need to build your application before you can reference it within the WiX setup program. After you build it, you can reference your applications Project Outputs in the normal manner.
  2. The Product.wxs file requires the following modification in order to output a single MSI file:
    <MediaTemplate EmbedCab="yes"/>

    If you neglect this change, you will also see .CAB file after the build.

Of course this release contains other enhancements and I encourage you to read the release notes to discover more. Download the beta today and see just how easy it is to build WiX projects via the old VDProj method. I guarantee you will master it during your lunch break.

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