[wix-users] Database creation issue

Edwin Castro egcastr at gmail.com
Fri May 11 09:57:47 PDT 2018

In previous emails I have explained about how immediate, deferred, and
rollback custom actions work. Please review those emails. Also review


as that blog post does a really good job explaining when various actions
are actually executed. Specifically pay attention to the "My Saw Tooth
Diagram" and 'Framing the "Saw Tooth" Diagram' sections.

Please do take the time to understand the blog post above. I've noticed
that many of the problems you are running into stem from not understanding
the execution model of the Windows Installer engine. Understanding how the
Windows Installer engine works is very important because it decides what we
can do. WiX cannot do anything to change how the Windows Installer engine

You can use immediate actions in the InstallUISequence for the "UI Client"
line in the Violet Region. Immediate actions run right away and cannot
modify the system.

The "Generate" line in the Orange Region represents immediate actions in
the InstallExecuteSequence scheduled between InstallInitialize and
InstallFinalize. These immediate actions run right away and cannot modify
the system. Their purpose is to make decisions about what needs to happen.
They generate an "install script" (the Teal Region) that will be executed
later on by deferred actions. Those InstallSqlData log lines come from an
immediate action running in the Generate phase. That immediate action gets
the SQL scripts to execute writes them to something called
"CustomActionData" that will be read later by an appropriate deferred

The "Commit Server" line in the Orange Region is when deferred actions can
be executed. These deferred actions can change the system but they do *NOT*
have access to almost anything in the MSI database. They need to be told
what to do through "CustomActionData".

In the context of the WiX custom actions for running SQL scripts, all this
means that all the SQL scripts must be written to "CustomActionData" before
they can be executed later. Remember that the actions are not "called" once
per row in the table. Rather the action is called once and the action
processes everything in one or more tables (for immediate actions) or
processes everything in CustomActionData (for deferred or rollaback

Note this is not a limitation of the WiX implementation of its custom
actions but rather a restriction imposed by the Windows Installer engine.
If you want different behavior, you'll need to implement it yourself within
the same restrictions. Specifically, you could write your own custom action
to execute a large SQL script that you have installed to the file system.
You can then read that script *only* when you need it rather than depending
on all scripts being read into memory. The downside is you are installing
the script to the file system. That may or may not be a bad thing in your

Edwin G. Castro

On Fri, May 11, 2018 at 12:52 AM, Ven H <venh.123 at gmail.com> wrote:

> Thanks a lot Edwin. For the rollback part, as you mentioned, I scheduled
> them before execute. So, now, it seems to be getting executed during
> rollback. For the other scripts, I can see in the log that for every SQL
> script file, it is logging the following message
> *InstallSqlData:  Scheduling SQL string: <SQL statement>*
> It is logging the above for all the scripts, but upon refreshing the
> databases in the SQL Management Studio, I don't see any objects created
> yet. So, looking at the log, it seems it is only scheduling all the scripts
> first, before it even starts to execute them. Is there a way, we can
> control this behavior, i.e., execute each and every script as per the
> sequence, before just scheduling all at once?
> Regards,
> Venkatesh
> On Wed, May 9, 2018 at 7:00 PM, Edwin Castro <egcastr at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Since you have not provided a verbose log for us to see what is actually
>> is going on (always get a verbose log, always) the best I can do is make a
>> guess.
>> In the past I sent email about how immediate custom actions decide what
>> to do and schedule rollback and "execute" deferred custom actions to run
>> later by the server process when the install script is executed.
>> It might be possible that the immediate custom action is failing with the
>> "out of memory" error you are seeing. In that case none of the actions
>> would actually run.
>> But your question implies that at least some of the "execute" deferred
>> custom actions are running so one would expect some of the rollback custom
>> actions to run. Of course those rollback actions will only run if they are
>> sequenced before their "execute" counterparts. Perhaps the rollback you
>> expect is not happening because it is not scheduled correctly.
>> Then again, you are running out of memory. Perhaps it *IS* trying to run
>> the rollback but it can't because it ran out of memory!
>> Really, the only thing we can do here is make guesses without the verbose
>> log. What does the verbose log say?
>> --
>> Edwin G. Castro
>> On Wed, May 9, 2018, 05:52 Ven H via wix-users <
>> wix-users at lists.wixtoolset.org> wrote:
>>> I have an MSI which has lots of sql script files (around 1500) to create
>>> around 8 databases and tables, stored procs, views, indexes, functions
>>> and
>>> so on. These sql script files are executed in a sequence. Almost towards
>>> the end, there is a very big file in the 8th DB (around 138 MB). This
>>> file
>>> basically has insert statements with binary data.
>>> When I install the MSI, I expect that it would create all the 8 DBs but
>>> will fail only when it reaches this script. But it gets stuck for a very
>>> long time, before it finally throws the error saying "Failed to allocate
>>> memory to CustomActionData string.". But when I check the log, I can see
>>> that it is logging all the sql statements from the previous scripts
>>> before
>>> this file.
>>> Although, there is a rollback script to drop everything in case of
>>> error, I
>>> thought, when I refresh the SQL Management Studio, I would see the
>>> databases during installation, but I don't. So, does it try to load
>>> everything into memory first before starting to execute? If not, why does
>>> it not create the databases during installation and then rollback after
>>> error? Can anyone please provide any inputs?
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