To WiX v3.9 and beyond

When we first started talking about the WiX v3.x series and WiX v3.8 in particular, we were already behind schedule in getting support for Visual Studio 2013. That was the forcing function for WiX v3.8 itself: WiX v3.8 had to ship on a schedule and it wasn’t a schedule of our own making. Luckily, that’s just one reason to ship a release:

  1. To support a platform. For WiX, that’s primarily Visual Studio and Windows. It’s a time-boxed release with the time box outside our control and usually imprecisely defined. This was the case for WiX v3.8 though luckily we had a fairly precise time box.
  2. To make particular functionality generally available. Because a lot of organizations frown on “beta” software, there’s value in shipping when we have something interesting to ship. There’s no time box involved; it’s a judgment call based on the accumulated set of bug fixes and implemented features. WiX v3.7 shipped in this model, to release the support for self-updating bundles.
  3. To meet a self-imposed date. This is the classic Scrum time-box model: Every sprint produces a potentially shippable release and every so often, you ship one. The idea of shipping every so-many months is pretty powerful. It ensures users get updates on a predictable schedule. Even better, developers working on new features get them into users’ hands on a predictable schedule and don’t have to worry that what they’re working on won’t see the light of day for years.

So what does this have to do with WiX v3.x?

One of the things I was hoping to hear at the Build conference earlier this month is rough dates for the next “big” releases of Windows and Visual Studio. Rumors abound but it would be nice to plan WiX releases based on something a bit more firm. Assuming the rumors are semi-accurate, we have a year or so before we next have a schedule forced on us. I see three options:

  1. We slip the WiX v3.9 schedule into 2015, to support the 2015 Windows and Visual Studio releases.
    Pros: We wouldn’t have the extra work in doing two releases.
    Cons: We would go a year and a half between WiX v3.x releases.
  2. We ship WiX v3.9 soon to give more time to the WiX v3.10 schedule.
    Pros: It gives development time to when we (should) have more details about the 2015 releases of Windows and Visual Studio.
    Cons: We’d want to ship WiX v3.9 in the next couple of months which means quickly ramping down on the scope of changes we’d take into v3.9.
  3. We give more time to WiX v3.9 and shorten the WiX v3.10 cycle to focus only on platform support.
    Pros: We could keep taking bigger changes for another month or two.
    Cons: Without official dates, we’re reduced to reading tea leaves and entrails for planning. That leaves a bigger risk we could be unprepared if the rumored schedule changes or if the platform work takes more time than anticipated.

Given the pros and cons, I’m proposing option #2: We ship WiX v3.9 soon, in the June/July timeframe. That would give WiX v3.10 10 months (based on current rumors) to prepare for a new version of Windows and Visual Studio.

Feedback? Post it on the wix-devs mailing list. No matter your preference, if you have bugs or features you want to see implemented in WiX v3.x, go grab one and send a pull request. There’s no time like the present.

WiX v3.5 supports Visual Studio 2010 beta 2

So that the WiX Working Group can enjoy Hallowe’en on Saturday, WiX v3.5.1030.0 with support for Visual Studio 2010 beta 2 was released today. You can get the bits at http://wix.sourceforge.net/releases/3.5.1030.0/. This isn’t a full beta release – Burn is still in active development and isn’t ready for prime-time use yet – but we want to support everyone using the beta 2 release of Visual Studio 2010, which shipped last week.

Candy, Visual Studio program manager and WiX Working Group babysitter/cat-herder, had this to say about the features in this release:

Visual Studio 2010 Beta shipped on 10/21. With the team’s hard work and agility, we were able to release the WiX support on VS2010 Beta 2 today! Here are some highlights for this release:

  • Extension Manager Integration – Now you can download and install WiX directly from within the VS IDE by launching Extension Manager
  • Major performance improvement during project building – No more IDE freezing during build
  • Automatic upgrade from VS2008 to VS2010 – no more manual editing of wixproj files to change the tools version
  • Improved IDE experience including drag/drop of nodes, copy/paste of items, and project references
  • Added Visual Studio 2010 Express products detection in the WiX VS Extension – New in Beta
  • Over 40 + bug fixes

I’m pleased we were able to get a release supporting beta 2 out so quickly and I’m very excited about the “no more IDE freezing during build” improvement. There are several other smaller enhancements that will make WiX v3.5 a no-brainer upgrade when it ships next year.

In the meantime, if you’re using Visual Studio 2010, please grab this build and be on the lookout for future weekly releases. Problems, questions? Send mail to wix-users, file bug reports, or submit feature requests.

Highlights of WiX v3.5.0529.0

WiX v3.5.0529.0 was released on Friday, 29-May-2009. You can download it from http://wix.sourceforge.net/releases/3.5.0529.0/.

But please don’t, unless you’re champing at the bit to help us work on the Burn chainer or Votive. This week’s release is focused on getting the v3.5 tree building using the beta release of Visual Studio 2010 and other infrastructure pieces involved in building and publishing a new branch of the WiX toolset. As such, it’s a developer’s release and isn’t ready for general use.

That said, as promised, here’s what you can look forward to in the very near future:

  • Burn, the new WiX multi-package chainer platform.
  • Votive integratation for Visual Studio 2010.
  • Extension support for Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Framework 4.0.

Highlights of WiX v3.0.5329.0

WiX v3.0.5329.0 was released on Friday, 29-May-2009. You can download it from http://wix.sourceforge.net/releases/3.0.5329.0/.

WiX v3.0 is in release-candidate phase, approaching release: There are zero v3.0 bugs open. See Rob’s empty chart. Only critical bugs breaking core use cases would be considered for WiX v3.0 now.

Developer ID Description
Aaron   Updated error message that’s displayed when there’s a mismatch between a database’s codepage and characters used in the database. Oh, if only there were a way of representing all those characters…Alas, until then, MSI databases require codepages and that means that you have to use the right subset of characters for the codepage you’re using.
Aaron   Added a topic on integrating WiX into a Team Foundation Build lab project.
"Various artists"   Fixed typos in error messages, changed the logging output of a couple of MSBuild tasks to not look like error messages, added schema support for links inside element descriptions.
Aaron 2795343 GenerateBootstrapper ApplicationFile must be relative path

So I guess WiX West team in Redmond has been relaxing as WiX v3.0 winds down…oh wait, I guess we have been cooking up a little something

Highlights of WiX v3.0.5322.0

WiX v3.0.5322.0 was released on Friday, 22-May-2009. You can download it from http://wix.sourceforge.net/releases/3.0.5322.0/.

WiX v3.0 is in release-candidate phase, approaching release: There are only 6 v3.0 bugs still open. See Rob’s bug breakdown.

Developer ID Description
Aaron   Removed the block from the WiX installer that prevented installation when the Visual Studio distribution of WiX was installed. Now that the Visual Studio distribution of WiX is no more, is bereft of life, rests in peace, and is otherwise an ex-distribution, the block is no longer needed.
Me   Fixed "missing" pages in the online WiX v3.0 manual. They weren’t missing, just using inconsistent case, which matters on SourceForge’s servers.
Eric 2777114 Problem with wixproj msbuild macro values
Me 2786736 Wix uses wrong msbuild version for .vcproj references
Eric 2792176 ConvertToAbsolutePath task not found VS2005
Me 2792525 Missing punctuation in WixUI_en-us.wxs