WiX v3.x: The new stable WiX plan

Since WiX v3.0 shipped, subsequent minor releases — v3.5, v3.6, and v3.7 — have maintained 100 percent source-code compatibility. We added features, including language features, but didn’t remove or change behavior of any language features. Plus lots of bug fixes, of course.

But with Burn shipping its first release in WiX v3.6 and getting a minor bump in WiX v3.7, we “finished” the major features we set out to do during the WiX v3.x series. So now we turn our eyes toward a new major release of WiX: WiX v4.x, where we can make improvements to the language that won’t necessarily be backward-compatible with existing WiX authoring. Plus we can make internal improvements that also won’t necessarily be backward-compatible with existing WiX libraries.

The last time we had this major-release transition, we basically put WiX v2.0 on the back burner and everyone focused on the new and shiny WiX v3.0. While many of us had the flexibility to use prerelease versions of WiX v3.0 — automatically generated short file names FTW! — not everyone does. Between 2007 and 2009, WiX v2.0 was the stable release and no fixes or improvements were available except in WiX v3.0 “beta” releases.

In 2013, we aim to do better.

While a lot of work will go into WiX v4.x, we won’t stop working on WiX v3.x. The is unbounded: As long as there are interested users and willing contributors, we’ll release WiX v3.8, v3.9, v3.10, and so forth. (My personal hope is that we have reason to ship WiX v3.14. Because everyone loves WiX pi.)

We have clearance, Clarence

There are two no-compromise requirements for WiX v3.x releases:

  • 100 percent backward compatibility of authoring and libraries
  • Continued high stability

To that end, here’s the kind of work I see in scope for WiX v3.x:

  • Bug fixes (of course)
  • Small features
  • Platform support (e.g., Windows, MSI, .NET, and Visual Studio)

What’s out of scope for WiX v3.x:

  • Anything that might risk stability either because they’re just big changes or because they touch lower layers of tools or libraries. Those would probably not be taken in WiX v3.x.

In my next post, I’ll discuss what this all means for WiX v3.8, the next release.

5 Replies to “WiX v3.x: The new stable WiX plan”

  1. Great post, glad to see this type of information! Comparing my older WiX v2 setup projects to WiX v3 ones, there’s so many, both obvious and subtle improvements and tweaks here and there that cumulatively make life so much easier, and I’m looking forward to see even more such improvements. FWIW – hopefully there’s a bit more focus on stdba in v3. You see the VS2012 installer and you just wish you could pull in a few features like that on the budget your manager sets for project releases, you know?

  2. Any target date yet for V3.8 – I know may people itching for a release for VS2013 🙂

    Also V4.x if would be great if side by side support was available. I say one of your youtube standups where this was also discussed. I know each new version in the V3.x was just an improvement and 100% backwards compatibility, however it has cause us issues. For instance our main Dev branch its ok to take latest and greatest most of the time however for release versions we are hot fixing its not. Therefore to eliminate risk we avoid updating any component unless 100% unnecessary. This mean developers have to have the correct version installed when doing local builds and we have to have separate build machines with different wix versions. I know there is a solution to check in the correct version of wix – but it would be much much easier if side by side support is there and the build process executed the correct version.

    Anyway all good work – Thanks for the update 🙂

  3. @Gary: The WiX v3.8 post is coming soon. SxS is easy for the toolset and impossible for Votive without significant work to support multiple toolsets. So far, nobody’s volunteered to do that work.

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