Summary: Reference guide for beginners.This is post #3 of the six-part Learning WiX series. For other topics, see:
Table of contents
- Background (why WiX?)
- Introduction (answers to common questions)
- Getting started (references and tutorials)
- How-to's and missing links
- Slides and demo projects
- Improved demo projects (32- and 64-bit installers)
The answer to the second question is: it depends. Well... sort of. Before you begin, you definitely need to know the fundamentals of the Windows Installer (MSI) technology, such as:
- The overall structure of an MSI package (MSI database)
- The difference between packages, features, components, and deployment items (files, registry keys, shortcuts, etc)
- Custom actions (CAs) and how they are used
- Upgrade types (minor vs. major upgrade)
- Merge modules
To get started, install the current version of WiX Toolset from:
I assume that you will be using Visual Studio to develop setup programs. WiX Toolset includes a Visual Studio add-on, Votive, that enables WiX integration with the Visual Studio IDE. After installing WiX Toolset, make sure that WiX project templates appear in the New Project dialog box:
The WiX Toolset's help file is a good place to start (by default, the help file is installed to C:\Program Files\Windows Installer XML v3\doc\wix.chm; you can find a shortcut to the help document under the WiX program group in the Start menu; the help file can be also viewed online). You don't need to read it all; the first few chapters and how-to articles give you a basic idea of what you need to do to get a functional setup project.
To get more in-depth understanding of WiX, check out more advanced tutorials. The ones I found most helpful include:
- WiX Tutorial by Gábor DEÁK JAHN, Tramontána (official WiX tutorial; a lot of good info, but can be overwhelming)
- Yet Another WiX Tutorial by Rennie Petersen (addresses fewer topics, but in more depth)
- From MSI to WiX by Alex Shevchuk (excellent information helping understand both MSI and WiX)
- WiX Tutorial by r0k0t (awkward format, but great info presented as lessons)
- WiX Wiki (I din't use it much, but noticed a few articles that could be helpful)
- WiX tricks and tips (wiki post at StackOverflow with many good suggestions)
- Creating an installer using Wix v3.0, Votive, and Visual Studio 2005/2008 (simple demo; see also Part 2: the GUI)
my Amazon review):
You can read the Getting Started and Adding a User Interface chapters online.
And here is a list of tools that you may want to check out:
- SharpSetup creates bootstrapper and GUI for your WiX installer in C# and WinForms.
- Wix# (WiXSharp) builds MSI packages or WiX source code from C# code.
- IsWix (Industrial Strength Windows Installer XML) is a document editor that enables non-setup developers to collaborate with setup developers using WiX projects.
- WixEdit is an editor for XML source files for the Windows Installer XML (WiX) toolset to build MSI and MSM setup packages.