Ty Anderson

Video: WiX Designer for Visual Studio 2012 and 2013

For all their new and exciting features, the newest editions of Visual Studio 2012 and 2013 lack a key component… setup projects. If you utilize the Visual Studio setup project templates, Microsoft does not provide any clear or simple upgrade path for the investments you have made.

If this is you, please dry that tear in your eye and rejoice. We have created the Designer for WiX toolset. The WiX Designer provides a set of designers that allow to quickly configure a WiX-based setup project. The designers will be familiar to you as they do just what you expect (e.g. configure file system, add registry keys, edit file types, configure custom actions, and more).

I expect you are curious to see the WiX Designer in action. For you, the curious, we created this short demo.

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  • Mike McGavin says:

    Hello Ty, Pieter, and others.

    Firstly, thanks very much for working on this product. From the video and these blog posts, it looks promising. I was initially surprised that there didn’t seem to be much in the way of GUI editors for WiX projects already.

    I’m slowly trying to slide things to WiX. It seems more preferable for our needs than the other obvious tool people use (InstallShield) which appears far too big and complicated for our requirements. I have a few questions about where you’re going with this, though.

    (1) Does this tool work with *any* WiX project? As in, will it parse an WiX project without losing that project’s existing data? Or does it only work with WiX projects that were created by the tool?

    (2) Do you plan to do anything with detecting project references, or at the very least some kind of drag-and-drop reference interface? I know the installer purists say that you should always know and define exactly what you plan to install on a target system, have proper unit tests on a build server, and so on. That side of the VS setup projects, however, is still something I’ve missed, as frustrating as it was when certain bugs were encountered that caused it to fail to detect references between projects and other referenced DLLs… sometimes at completely random times. I’ve especially missed that functionality when I’ve just wanted a one-off quick-and-dirty installer for something, and methodically typing out many XML lines for every single library or other product I’ve referenced and grouping them into components and so on simply doesn’t appeal.

    (3) Do you plan to include functionality for operations like registering DLLs, which the VS Setup projects used to include? (I’m aware that the VS Setup projects didn’t always do it reliably and without bugs.) Part of the WiX system, at least with what I’ve encountered, is in all the tools which it has. eg. When I have DLLs that need to be registered on a target system, I have a bunch of post-build scripts which run WiX tools like HEAT.EXE, to harvest all the registry information required for that DLL’s registration, and then include the generated file(s) for all the registry keys in the resulting compilation.

    Thanks heaps.

  • Dmitry Kostochko (Add-in Express Team) says:

    Hi Mike,

    Thank you for your interest in our product! Please see the answers to your questions below.

    1) Yes, the product works with any WiX project.

    2) We have plans to implement such a feature though it is not a trivial task. Probably we will be able to find an elegant solution to automatically include all referenced assemblies into a WiX project.

    3) This point also exists in our plans. However, we are going to use the SelfRegCost attribute of the File element.

    Mike, on this page, before the video, you can find a key that you can use for testing the first beta. Just in case you did not notice it…

    If you have any questions or need more info feel free to ask me.

  • Mike McGavin says:

    Brilliant. Thanks, Dmitry.

  • Stephan Steiner says:

    What’s your preferred way to get feedback on this tool?

    I found a few issues when testing over the week-end.

    1) Renaming launch conditions is not possible in the GUI
    2) Adding a project output, then removing it again does not remove it from the wix file
    3) Changing a setup project to 64bit (once you actually manage.. it took me a bunch of restarts and trying to change project properties everywhere for it to eventually take – I suspect a problem with the vix plugin, not the desginer), or the removal of a custom action directly from the .wxs broke all GUI editors.. none lanches anymore (I tried re-adding the lines I removed, but to no avail). Changing back to x86 did nothing.

    Dependency detection would definitely be a nice bonus and help reducing the workload

  • Dmitry Kostochko (Add-in Express Team) says:

    Hi Stephan,

    Thank you very much for your feedback!

    1) Regrettably, we can do nothing about this issue because the WiX schema lacks attributes that we could use to name a launch condition. Maybe, we will be able to somehow resolve this problem in the future.

    As for the other issues, can you please contact our support team (you can find our email address in the readme.txt file located in the product’s installation folder) and we will try to fix them. Thank you!

  • Stephan Steiner says:

    As for the renaming – I’m currently looking at the XML.. couldn’t you save the old string (IEditable et al.), then upon committing the change, look up the old Condition message in the XML, and replace it? Granted, there’s the issue with having multiple matches, but who is going to create two launch conditions with the same message?

  • Dmitry Kostochko (Add-in Express Team) says:

    Hi Stephan,

    Probably I misunderstand you. The Condition element in the WiX scheme can contain only 3 attributes, Action, Level and Message. We cannot save the condition’s name in none of these attributes, nor can we add a custom attribute to the Condition element.

    Please let me know if you are looking for something different.

  • Frank Perugini says:

    Is Beta 2 available yet for testing?

  • Dmitry Kostochko (Add-in Express Team) says:

    Hi Frank,

    Beta 2 of the WiX Designer has been published. You can find more details, download link and a new license key here.

  • Peter says:

    Hi there,

    I posted my question on the original BETA1-blog post. I have a problem getting this software working with Windows Services. Is that something you can confirm?
    If this software ends out as good as it looks like I will definately end up purchasing it. This software is what makes me and VS2013 come together… until now I stick to VS2010 only bcause of the deployer.

  • Dmitry Kostochko (Add-in Express Team) says:

    Hi Peter,

    I have just replied to you here.

    I need something that reproduces the behavior for testing because I cannot replicate the issue on my side.

  • Peter says:

    blaaaah… I’ve tried a couple of times now and I am unable to reproduce my own problem! I hate situations like this.

  • Dmitry Kostochko (Add-in Express Team) says:

    Hi Peter,

    Thank you for letting us know.
    If you have any questions or run into issues feel free to contact us.

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