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WiX v3.x: The new stable WiX plan

Since WiX v3.0 shipped, subsequent minor releases – v3.5, v3.6, and v3.7 – have maintained 100 percent source-code compatibility. We added features, including language features, but didn’t remove or change behavior of any language features. Plus lots of bug fixes, of course.

But with Burn shipping its first release in WiX v3.6 and getting a minor bump in WiX v3.7, we “finished” the major features we set out to do during the WiX v3.x series. So now we turn our eyes toward a new major release of WiX: WiX v4.x, where we can make improvements to the language that won’t necessarily be backward-compatible with existing WiX authoring. Plus we can make internal improvements that also won’t necessarily be backward-compatible with existing WiX libraries.

The last time we had this major-release transition, we basically put WiX v2.0 on the back burner and everyone focused on the new and shiny WiX v3.0. While many of us had the flexibility to use prerelease versions of WiX v3.0 – automatically generated short file names FTW! – not everyone does. Between 2007 and 2009, WiX v2.0 was the stable release and no fixes or improvements were available except in WiX v3.0 “beta” releases.

In 2013, we aim to do better.

While a lot of work will go into WiX v4.x, we won’t stop working on WiX v3.x. The is unbounded: As long as there are interested users and willing contributors, we’ll release WiX v3.8, v3.9, v3.10, and so forth. (My personal hope is that we have reason to ship WiX v3.14. Because everyone loves WiX pi.)

We have clearance, Clarence

There are two no-compromise requirements for WiX v3.x releases:

  • 100 percent backward compatibility of authoring and libraries
  • Continued high stability

To that end, here’s the kind of work I see in scope for WiX v3.x:

  • Bug fixes (of course)
  • Small features
  • Platform support (e.g., Windows, MSI, .NET, and Visual Studio)

What’s out of scope for WiX v3.x:

  • Anything that might risk stability either because they’re just big changes or because they touch lower layers of tools or libraries. Those would probably not be taken in WiX v3.x.

In my next post, I’ll discuss what this all means for WiX v3.8, the next release.