Aug 28, 2012

WiX, worst toolset ever

So, I suppose sooner or later every developer out there will face the task of writing a installer for his product. I you are working under Windows, Windows Installer seems like a reasonable choice. I'm not so sure about it now.

Now, there is no some sort official tool from Microsoft for making Windows Installer packages. Huh? Seems like that. Presumably I didn't dig enough for that, so far I found just this nonsence.

But then, WiX! Which is infamous for being used to create Microsoft Office 2003 installer. And it's also internal Microsoft product as well. Certanly it's a big YES compared to nothing. It's even integrates into Visual Studio and adds custom projects for creating installers. And you actually start to think that will be a nice journey. But then you try to find some tutorials, examples and documentation. It is awful, all of these. If you add (but I suppose, it's the reason in the first place) that WiX markup is extremenly unintuitive, complicated and confusing then you will understand that frustration means. Contrary to what you might expect, WiX Toolset it's a pretty low-level tool, which must be backed with good documentation and comprehensive and complete examples.

The feedback is thru this mailing-list style forum with horrible desing. The leading toolset man Rob Mensching is rich for caustic comments like this. And, as you can guess from a thread, WiX Toolset is OK with bugs that lasts for more than 2 years.

The thing that finally really, really helped me out was WiX: A Developer's Guide to Windows Installer XML book. And I'm not sure how much more time I would spend in misery without it.

So for me it's official, WiX Toolset is teh worst tool I've ever encountered in all my developer experience so far. It doesn't mean however you shouldn't use it, but unless you are ought to use Windows Installer, you can consider some other tools out there.

P.S. Useful tips on MSI.

1 comment:

  1. How true, even after five years this was posted.