Writing down the roadmap for the WiX toolset has been on my todo list for a very long time. Those who hang around me already know the roadmap but I always knew I needed to write it down to reach the world wide audience. With the final days of WiX v2 upon us, now is a great time to look at where we are going with the WiX v3 toolset.
What follows is a draft of something that will look very much like the final WiX v3 Roadmap that will show up on the WiX website. Comments are encouraged.
The Vision Statement
The WiX toolset provides the means to create the highest quality setup packages while seamlessly integrating into the standard software build process to enable setup development to be distributed across many developers.
The WiX v3 toolset builds on the solid foundation of WiX v2 to improve the usability of the WiX toolset both inside the core and in layers above the core. By the end of 2007 feature development will be reduced and the stabilization process will become the focus for the next year. Throughout the WiX v3 life time we will follow our "release early, release often" processes and release weekly builds that demonstrate incremental improvements without regressing functionality found in WiX v2.
The following five feature areas will be where we focus development.
1. Core Toolset
a. Patching. A great deal of effort is underway to provide a more flexible, powerful and faster way to create Windows Installer patches. Peter Marcu is leading this effort with significant contributions from Office and Visual Studio personnel.
b. Language enhancements. There are several enhancements planned for the WiX language (wix.xsd) to improve the readability and flexibility of setup development. Enhancements include strongly typed UI controls, Component elements under Feature elements and stable Component GUID generation.
2. WiX Extensions
a. Model stabilization. WiX v3 already has a rich extension model. This feature will be focused on stabilizing the extension model to encourage other developers to build on the WiX core toolset.
b. More, more, more. We will also build additional extension to augment the existing IIS, SQL, etc. extensions.
3. WiX Bootstrapper
a. External UI. Multi-package installations are becoming quite common. This feature will provide an improved platform for developers to create a user experience that spans disparate packages. A standard external UI will also be provided with the WiX toolset.
b. Web Download. Microsoft provides many of the redistributables online today. The bootstrapper will be able to acquire such redistributables from the web rather than require them to be distributed with the developers' package(s).
4. Votive v3
Justin Rockwood will continue to be the lead on the efforts here.
a. MSBuild Integration. Seamlessly integrating with the build process is a core part of the WiX toolset vision. Votive provides this integration into Visual Studio and MSBuild in WiX v3.
b. Designer Framework. Much like the core toolset accepts extensions, Votive v3 will grow into a platform for "designers" to integrate with the setup development experience.
a. Votive Integration. Integrating the ClickThrough UI with Visual Studio can provide a much better development experience. When the designer framework is developed in Votive, ClickThrough will provide a rich example.
b. More Application Types. We will grow the number of application types supported beyond the Isolated Applications and Office Applications today.
Beyond the WiX v3 Roadmap
There are currently no definitive plans beyond WiX v3. There has been some discussion about continued Votive features in a WiX v4. I have proposed that the WiX v4 contain the WiX v3 core toolset while improving the bootstrapper, Votive and (possibly) ClickThrough. This would follow the model set forth by the .NET Framework v3. So we are entertaining a great many different ideas.
In the meantime, we have plenty of exciting work ahead of us in WiX v3. And keep coding, you know I am.