The state of the WiX toolset, October 2010.

After five months of heads down coding on Burn in WiX v3.6, it is past time for me to take a deep breath and look around. A quick glance tells me that we are doing okay but we are late. The core contributors of the WiX toolset are working hard but we are fragmented so progress is slow. Let's look at where we are at with WiX v3.5 and WiX v3.6 in detail.

WiX v3.5 status

At one point we were under the delusion that we could maybe finish WiX v3.5 by July, 2010. At that time, I considered cutting the early IIS7 custom action support. However, there was an outpouring of requests to keep the IIS7 functionality in WiX v3.5 so we did. That hurt the schedule badly because Eric ended up splitting his time between Votive and IIS7 bugs.

  • Votive for Visual Studio 2010 - is looking good. Bugs are at zero and Votive works better on Visual Studio 2010 and 2008 than it ever has before. Huge kudos to Eric St. John for picking up this herculean task where the Visual Studio team left off.
  • IIS7 custom action - is close. Again, Eric picked up where the IIS team left off and fixed a bunch of issues. Just this work was enough for one person, the fact that Eric stepped up and took on IIS7 with Votive (since there was no one else) is impressive.
  • DTF on NETFX4 - has been a continued problem. Jason is no longer actively contributing to WiX so others are starting to pick up the slack. Unfortunately, we've been caught by surprise on these NETFX 4.0 compatibility issues.

Conclusion: WiX v3.5 might make "production" by the end of this year. If we keep finding issues that cannot be punted then the escrow process could slowly burn into March 2011.

To be clear, the core toolset of WiX v3.5 is as stable or more stable than WiX v3.0. It's just the features listed above that need to be finished.

WiX v3.6 status

Burn, baby. Burn. September 30th was a big day for me. That was where Fredrik and I finished the core feature work for Burn. I felt so relieved to finally have that day successfully behind us. Now we turn our attention to the bug backlog and start driving toward the end of WiX v3.6. I am now splitting my time fixing bugs in both releases.

  • Burn - on target and only 5 years late. Seriously, I expect we'll be done with the first version of Burn in 6 to 9 months which is incredibly important because it is years late.

Conclusion: WiX v3.6 is progressing exactly as Fredrik and I predicted it would last year. It will feel great to finally see Burn in the market early next year.

Summary

In closing, we are making progress but it is frustratingly slow. We ended up in a situation where we are fighting on too many fronts (Votive 2010, IIS7, DTF, Burn). Most of that is my fault for not making the hard cuts early. I still hold out hope that we will look back and say things turned out for the best.

Anyway, there are three ways you can help us out:

  • First, you can regularly download the latest build of WiX v3.5 and file any bugs you hit. That will tell us how we are doing in that release.
  • Second, you can dig in and root cause the issues you hit. Helping us fix bugs will obviously help us finish everything faster.
  • Third, you can support the WiX community. Go out there and answer people's questions on wix-users@lists.sourceforge.net. Respond to the people on Twitter getting acquainted with the WiX toolset and help them get over the learning curve. Finally, you can occasionally say nice things about the people spending their free time working on WiX toolset. That definitely helps with the morale around here. :)

 

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