Recently we found it beneficial to rewrite one of our Windows installers. The previous one was built with the well-known InstallShield 2008, which is a pretty powerful GUI tool built over a very basic language called InstallScript. You can do pretty much anything you need with the tool, but a lot of it can be rather arcane and not at all straightforward. This is fine and dandy if a team has a dedicated installer engineer, but when the installer is rarely touched it doesn’t tend to work out as well. InstallScript itself eventually runs into using goto statements, something abhorrent to many of us. On top of that, the tool is a few grand per license. We needed to make some major changes to our installer, and knowing the state of the tool and code for the existing one we thought it better to seek out alternatives.
Why WiX? WiX actually comes out of Microsoft, and was amongst the first of their projects to be delivered open source under the Common Public License. Since it’s open source, it’s also free. Before, we had to log into the one machine that can actually make changes to the installer, as we only had the one license. Now, every developer can just have WiX installed on their box outright. Additionally, WiX comes with Votive, a Visual Studio plugin. As we’re already using Visual Studio to develop OfficeWriter, the project in question, this is simply a nice feature we get for free. One doesn’t need Visual Studio or the plugin to develop a WiX installer, however. Continue reading Don’t Pay for Install Tools when WiX Works