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  • Blog Post: How to relocate the Package Cache

    Visual Studio can require a lot of space on the system drive . Based on years of data collected from customers’ installations from the Customer Experience Improvement Program , we took advantage of this feature in Burn – the Windows Installer XML (WiX) chainer – to eliminate most errors...
  • Blog Post: Windows Installer XML (WiX) v3.6 Released

    The Windows Installer XML (WiX) team has released version 3.6 which, most notably, released a powerful and customizable chainer named Burn . The Visual Studio 2012 setup applications were built on Burn using features such as package caching , reference counting , and sticky patching to improve the overall...
  • Blog Post: How Visual Studio 2012 Avoids Prompts for Source

    Requiring source packages during installation , repairs , and even uninstall are common occurrences for some customers. The core issue is that Windows Installer needs the source location of the package and its files to install - and can't find them automatically - when attempting to restore the machine...
  • Blog Post: Easier Authoring for Slipstreaming Patches

    Slipstreaming Windows Installer patches is, technically, installing the MSP simultaneously with the MSI as a single transaction. This is, effectively: msiexec /i D:\product.msi PATCH=D:\patch.msp The applicable transforms (both the authoring changes and patch transforms) are applied to the MSI and...
  • Blog Post: Announcing Windows Installer XML v3.6 Release Candidate

    On a day of many great Release Candidate (RC) announcements , I should not forget another important RC milestone: Windows Installer XML (WiX) v3.6 RC . We’ve made a lot of improvements, simplified some scenarios, and fixed a lot of bugs. Download v3.6 RC and give it a try and let us know if you find...
  • Blog Post: Packaging Caching in Burn

    There are times when repairing or servicing a product that source media is required. As more product installs move to web-based installs, these prompts for source are harder to solve. In order to replace missing, corrupted, or older files, the source is required because those files have to come from...
  • Blog Post: Introducing Sticky Patching and Add-ons

    Late last week I checked in a feature for Windows Installer XML’s (WiX) chainer, Burn , that I’m really excited about (ask my colleagues): sticky patching. This is a feature at the bundle (what we call our composition of packages for Burn ) level that supports related bundles of type “Patch” and “Addon...
  • Blog Post: Introducing Package Reference Counting

    These days it’s more common to install products composed of more than one installer package. Modern applications are often a loose fitting of localized components and being authored into a single package just isn’t practical. For example, a localized application will undoubtedly have neutral or single...
  • Blog Post: Introducing Managed Bootstrapper Applications

    Now that WiX v3.6 has been released , I introduce the managed bootstrapper application (MBA) interoperability layer. It’s been available for a while actually, and if you’ve installed any builds of WiX v3.6, or the Microsoft Visual Studio 11.0 Developer Preview you’ve seen it in action. While Burn – the...
  • Blog Post: Restart Manager functionality in WiX 3.5

    WiX 3.5 provides features to integrate with Visual Studio 2005, 2008, and 2010. But like many add-ins, since new files are being added they certainly can’t be in use by devenv.exe. So when we call devenv.exe /setup as part of our install, the changes may not show up in running instances of Visual Studio...
  • Blog Post: Comparison of PatchWiz and WiX v3 Patch Build

    The Windows Installer SDK ships a library named patchwiz.dll . This contains the logic to build a patch from pairs of database packages ( .msi files, or simply MSIs) along with other configuration properties. Another tool that the SDK ships is msimsp.exe which uses patchwiz.dll and parses command line...
  • Blog Post: Test your conditions

    When testing the serviceability of your product before you ship, it’s important to test any conditions you might have on the product, features, components, and actions. Feature conditions can set the install level of a feature when the package is installed. But as the Condition table documentation states...
  • Blog Post: Detecting Visual Studio 2008 Service Pack 1

    The Visual Studio 2008 RTM and SP1 detection keys are largely the same as the Visual Studio 2005 SP1 detection keys , and are documented below. But there is a caveat for released and upcoming versions: the shared detection value can be overwritten by an older installation of the same release. For...
  • Blog Post: Windows Installer XML (WiX) v3 Beta Released

    Since plans were made to ship WiX v3 in the box for Visual Studio 2010, the WiX working group has been working on fixing all outstanding bugs in the WiX v3 code base. Bob Arnson uploaded packages last week as a test on SourceForge and this week the following installation packages were uploaded on the...
  • Blog Post: Windows Installer 4.5 is Now Available

    Windows Installer 4.5 is now available on the download center for a variety of platforms, including Windows XP SP2 and newer, Server 2003 SP1 and newer, and both Vista and Server 2008 RTM and newer. The Windows Installer 4.5 SDK is also available as a separate download , and the documentation has been...
  • Blog Post: Another Workaround to Add New Components to Existing Features

    Yesterday I described an issue when adding new components to existing, not-installed (absent) features the feature tree is installed. This can lead to prompts for source or failed installations. One workaround is to add new, top-level hidden features. This works well unless new resources have a dependency...
  • Blog Post: Adding New Components to Existing Features Installs the Feature Tree

    As Developer Division starts to ship patches for the Visual Studio 2008 , some users are being prompted for installation source media. This is a resulting of Windows Installer needing the original source files if, for example, files are missing from disk when you repair your product or backup files are...
  • Blog Post: Get Binder Variables for Assemblies without Installing into the GAC

    Binder variables in WiX are variables that are resolved, coincidentally, at bind time. This is when the linker, light.exe , collects file information, assigns auto-GUIDs, and generates the output packages among other things. There are binder variables for all versioned binaries, and binder variables...
  • Blog Post: Patch Families in WiX and Windows Installer

    Patch families were introduced in Windows Installer 3.0 as a means to sequence patches even if applied in any order, and to supersede previous patches. Supersedence allows for easier delta patching and allows more patches to be installed than the 127 limit . When we started developing the new patch build...
  • Blog Post: Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 Service Pack 1, and How to Detect It

    No doubt you've heard the Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 was released . Aaron Stebner has posted a list of links to 3.5, as well as 2.0 Service Pack 1 (SP1) and 3.0 SP1. It's important to note that if you install 3.5 you're actually getting 2.0 SP1 and 3.0 SP1 both. The .NET Framework 3.5 consists of the...
  • Blog Post: EXE Custom Actions are Bad

    Windows Installer custom actions that launch executables (base custom action type msidbCustomActionTypeExe , 0x2) are typically bad and should be avoided. How are they bad? Let the Windows Installer team count the ways . During internal audits we question any EXE custom actions (CAs) but inevitably some...
  • Blog Post: Transform Validation in WiX Patch Build

    In the latest WiX v3 drops a new element is supported to configure transform validation bits. The default is still 0x0922001f but you can now configure them. Torch.exe was also modified to accept transform validation bits using the same flags as msitran.exe in the Windows Installer SDK, as well as transform...
  • Blog Post: Column Types Cannot be Changed in a Patch or Transform

    Transforms can change just about anything in an installation package - even the code page. Transforms can also add and drop both tables and columns but they cannot, however, change the column type. This is true for patches as well, since a patch package contains transforms . At their core, transforms...
  • Blog Post: WiX v3 Patching Improvements

    In last week's release some changes to patching with WiX were made with more exciting changes to come. Peter Marcu has implemented some changes he'll talk more about on his blog , but suffice to say has reduced the number of commands and command line arguments required to build a patch. I've added some...
  • Blog Post: Unchanged Files Break Patch Uninstall

    I've discussed a couple different reasons that Windows Installer 3.0-style patches - those with the MsiPatchMetadata table in the patch package itself - might not be uninstallable. I explained another reason in a discussion about the new patch build support in Windows Installer XML (WiX) v3 recently...
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