[wix-users] Looking for Advice/Opinion on Approach

Bryan Dam bryand at recastsoftware.com
Fri Dec 27 08:44:27 PST 2019

I've spent the last few weeks looking at our existing WiX installers and doing different proof of concepts to get a better understanding of our options and their pros and cons.  Before I finally commit to one of them I figured I'd throw it out there and see if anyone with more experience was willing to lend their advice.

Here's the situation:
Our product has three components: a client, server, and agent.  Each have and will continue to need their own WiX-created MSI installers.
The Server install includes a bunch of custom UI to configure IIS (including cert generation/selection) and create a SQL database via a bunch of custom actions.
The Server requires the .NET Core Hosting Bundle (not just the .Net Core runtimes) be installed as a pre-requisite.
The Agent installer installs a service that the installer UI allows the user to configure it to run as System or provide service account credentials to use.
In order for certain functionality to work the agent needs to be installed on the server with a service account.

The goal is to improve the server install user experience by installing the .NET Core pre-req (we have lots of disconnected environments), the Server, and optionally install the Agent using a seamless UI.

Things I've looked at:
1) Burn with one of the standard bootstrapper applications.
Due to the IIS/SQL configuration we need to get a bunch of input from the user via the installer UI.  The only option here was to use the MSI's existing internal UI which 'works' but was deemed by my team as not sufficient from a UX perspective.  They want the whole thing to feel like a single installer versus chaining 3 different installers together.

2) Burn with a custom bootstrapper application written in C#.
Recreate the Server and Agent installer UIs in C# to get the needed parameters and call each installer silently with those parameters.  Right now this is viewed as the most promising solution.  For this to work we need to pass the credentials to the Agent installer which gets properly hidden in most of the logs but is shown in plain text in the actual bundle package's command line.  Maybe there's a solution there but I'm not optimistic.

3) Making the Agent a feature/component of the Server install.
Haven't gone too far down this road but this would solve the 'password in the log' problem above but I think creates other issues.  Doesn't solve installing the .NET Hosting Bundle and the agent still needs its own stand-alone installer which could make things tricky: what if someone runs the agent install on a server that installed the agent as a feature?

Anyhoo, sorry for the wall-o-text there but if anyone has thoughts/opinions/advice I'd love to hear it.

  Thanks everyone,

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