[wix-users] More Advanced WiX Bootstrapper UI

Rob Mensching rob at firegiant.com
Fri Aug 21 09:07:55 PDT 2015

The wixstdba is fairly barebones. It is simple for simple installations and designed to point the way for more complex requirements. All the features of WiX Extended Bootstrapper Application were contributed to wixstdba in WiX v3.8 (I think).

Burn is designed to take multiple installation packages and represent them as a single entity (single progress bar, single ARP entry). That allows you to break up your installation into more logical distribution units. Breaking your installation into more logical units can get you wins in downloading and servicing. Plus Burn does a bunch of things to increase chance an MSI will install successfully (download resume, retry installations) and update successfully (package cache is a huge boon).

Oh, and you can write custom BAs that can look very pretty (MSI UI is limited).

If you have a single small MSI and just need to install the .NET Framework and don't care if the user sees multiple installation dialogs (or are willing to do the work to unify the progress bars) then Burn may look a bit like overkill. There are still advantages to using it for the smallest of MSIs (e.g. never ship naked MSIs over the internet) but it does take more work (especially if you need more extensive UI than provided by the default wixstdba).

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-----Original Message-----
From: wix-users [mailto:wix-users-bounces at lists.wixtoolset.org] On Behalf Of Alasdair King
Sent: Friday, August 21, 2015 5:17 AM
To: wix-users at lists.wixtoolset.org
Subject: [wix-users] More Advanced WiX Bootstrapper UI

Matt Hauk:
"I have a question about how people are using / expected to use the WiX Bootstrapper, in particular with reference to the UI component. It seems to me to be incomplete as it stands for anything beyond bundling prerequisites."

There isn't a bootstrapper in WiX:

The referenced setupexe/setupbld was removed a couple of versions back, and that was ONLY a bootstrapper - install pre-reqs, run MSI

I write bootstrappers in VB6 because I don't know enough C++ and VB6 doesn't have any dependencies so I know it will definitely run. They then launch MSIs built with WiX. This is particularly important because WiX has complete translations for the de-facto Windows Installer dialogs in many languages, saving me much work. And the UI looks like users expect from an installer, so that's great.

I would characterise the situation as "Use WiX for building your MSIs, because it's incredibly good at that: use something else for bootstrapping, because Burn is not a bootstrapper".

However, you might find the "WiX Extended Bootstrapper Application"
does what you need, since it adds lots of the UI features that you want to Burn: I tried it out, and it looked plausible, but I was still spending more time wrestling with Burn than it would take to do a simple bootstrapper.


I'd be very interested to hear other thoughts: I'm sure Burn is the same high quality as the rest of the WiX system, but it's never made sense to me, so I'd love to see anything on using it.

Alasdair King

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