Getting from here to there for WiX v3.8

In my last post, I talked about the idea of a WiX v3.x stable series of releases to keep WiX v3.x going until and after WiX v4.x is first released. First up is WiX v3.8.

Remember the kind of work that’s in scope for the WiX v3.x series:

  • Bug fixes (of course)
  • Small features
  • Platform support (Windows/MSI and Visual Studio)

We already have a number of fixes and small features in WiX v3.8 and a few more of each already assigned to v3.8 in the WiX issues database. Biggest, however, is the upcoming platform support work known as Visual Studio 2013: Supporting Visual Studio 2013 with Votive integration and the WiX SDK is really important for the folks who will jump on that bandwagon quickly. It’s already available in a Preview release that’s provided with a go-live license. And on Monday, Microsoft shipped the RC release, also with a go-live license.

They also announced that Visual Studio 2013 RTM will ship on the same day as Windows 8.1 is generally available: 18-October.

And, oh look! It’s already mid-September.

So here are two stakes in the ground:

  1. We should ship WiX v3.8 by the end of the year. That’s within a 60-day window (approximately) after the release of Windows 8.1 and Visual Studio 2013. Due to the year-end holidays (plus Thanksgiving here in the US), the final release candidate should be released no later than Monday, 2-December. (We’ve generally given WiX releases a few weeks of “bake time” where we release a final release candidate, ask everyone to download and test, and wait to see if there’s a bug big and bad enough to fix and slip the release.)
  2. We should ship a reliable WiX v3.8 beta with Visual Studio 2013 support by Halloween. That’s within a couple of weeks of the Visual Studio 2013 RTM release on 18-October. We can start by supporting the Visual Studio 2013 RC release; it’s freely available and hopefully will be the same as RTM as far as WiX is concerned.

There are no code pixies

Currently, the only Visual Studio 2013 support in the WiX v3.8 branch on Codeplex is detection properties in WixVSExtension.

There’s a lot more to do and we need your help to get it done.

Rob and Mike, my fellow carry-overs from the Microsoft WiX Virtual Team days, are both focusing on WiX v4.0. As release manager, I’m committed to getting the WiX v3.8 release out as soon as is feasible. To hit any of the dates I outlined above, we need more than just me working on Visual Studio 2013 support and fixing bugs.

Look at the open issues for WiX v3.8 and join the discussion on the wix-devs mailing list and the weekly bug triage meetings.

Update: wixtoolset.org is back up!

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.