A week ago a very big accomplishment happened very quietly. The development team inside Microsoft responsible for creating the .NET Framework 4.0's (NETFX4) bootstrapper finished the initial transformation into the WiX toolset's bootstrapper, Burn. Yes, you read that right. Burn will now be based on the same code that shipped the .NET Framework 4.0 to hundreds of thousands of Beta users.
First, a little bit of history. At the beginning of July 2009, I described what Burn is all about. Back then I had hopes that Burn would be useable by the end of month or, at least, mid-August. At the end of July, the NETFX4 bootstrapper team approached me and suggested that we consolidate bootstrapper efforts. It took a bit of convincing but, by the end of August, I agreed that we should start from the NETFX4 bootstrapper codebase instead of the code that was under development in WiX.
So I wrote a high level feature requirements document that basically summarized my introduction to Burn plus its container support. The NETFX4 bootstrapper team took those requirements and built a plan to enhance the NETFX4 bootstrapper to reach feature parity with the Burn under development in WiX. The plan's execution took a bit longer than expected since the team was unexpectedly attacked by some extra Visual Studio 2010 work and the H1N1 virus (yes, swine flu literally wiped the team out for a few weeks). Despite the challenges, the NETFX4 bootstrapper team delivered and I finished the integration of the code into the WiX toolset last night.
With this new foundation in place, everyone can really get involved. I'll be talking more about Burn again. In particular, I'll explain how you can get started using the bootstrapper. I'll also focus on what changes you should expect as we add more features and incorporate feedback into the code. There's still plenty of work to get done but having a consolidated effort on a single bootstrapper is a huge benefit for everyone involved.
I look forward to your feedback about how Burn works for you and what should be done to make it better.
PS: For those of you that build the WiX toolset, this initial drop of Burn requires some libraries that are only available in Visual Studio Professional or better. It's high on my list to remove this requirement so that WiX v3.5 will build with freely available tools like WiX v2.0 and WiX v3.0 do.