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Wix Toolset: Quick Introduction You Need Before Using It

The Wix toolset offers you with the most powerful tools available to create your windows installation experience. It lets developers create installers for the Windows Installer that integrates seamlessly.

About the Wix Toolset

Wix is an open-source project. The original brain behind this ingenious project is Microsoft. Rob Mensching is the one maintaining it now. You can check out this Wix tutorial or download the latest binary and source code releases.

Wix has a set of in-built tools at its core that are used to create the Windows installer packages, compile source codes and link them to build executables. Some examples include, exe set-up packages, MSP patches and MSM merge modules.

Wix command-line tools can work with any automated build system. The command line supports MS Build, Team Build and Visual Studio.

On top of the Windows Installer, Wix includes several other extensions with added functionality. An example is that Wix can create SQL Server databases, install IIS websites, register exceptions in Windows Firewall, and many other functions.

Burn (Wix bootstrapper) enables you to create set up bundles that can install prerequisites. Burn allows you to download packages or put them together into one downloadable .exe.

Wix SDK contains native and managed libraries. Chiefly, they make it easy to create codes that work with Windows Installer, while allowing custom actions in both C++ and C#.

Features and Advantages of the Wix Toolset

  • It is a free open source
  • Allows unrestricted access to Windows installer
  • It uses a declarative approach
  • It uses the complete integration into application build processes
  • One can access support for team development for third-party and in-house
  • There is possible integration for application development
  • It uses the source code against GUI-based assembly of information

Wix Documentation

Below is what it contains:

1. Reference manuals

Click here for a comprehensive WixToolset v3.x reference manual

2. Licence

The Wix toolset is released under the Microsoft Reciprocal License (MS-RL). Using a reciprocal licence ensures that others who build on the effort of the Wix community give back to it. The licence ensures that fixes and improvements to the Wix toolset are published.

Sometimes misinterpreting the reciprocal license is unavoidable. The solution is using the statement provided by the Outcurve Foundation of which .NET has reaffirmed.

Microsoft Reciprocal Licence (MS-RL)

It governs the use of the accompanying software. Using the software means that you have accepted this license. If you fail to accept the license, do not use the software. You can find additional information about this license here.


The Wix toolset governance is managed and led by a benevolent dictator. The person is responsible for the general strategic direction on top of the everyday maintenance of the project. On the other side, the community guides the decision-making of the benevolent dictator through contribution and active engagement.

Roles and Responsibilities

Project leads

Bob Arnson and Rob Mensching share the role as benevolent dictators. They serve the community by working towards understanding them fully so as to meet as to meet as many needs as possible.

In like manner, they ensure that the project stays alive in the long term.

This role is quite diplomatic as they have to ensure that the project expands and the community remains loyal to it.


This is a group of contributors who have made remarkable contributions. The community depends on them to write code directly to the repository. Most of the time these people are programmers who contribute different roles.

A committer focuses on one aspect of the project and brings in their expertise which earns them respect from the community and the project lead. This way, they are able to influence the community.

Even so, they neither have official roles, nor power in determining the direction of the project.

Markedly, they have informal control, for example, they can modify parts of the code for they have informal control.

Do you want to become a committer? By being a regular Contributor, you can be appointed by the Benevolent Dictator.


These are community members who submit pull requests for a project which may occur one-time or over time.

Contributors are expected to submit small pull requests initially to the end that they build confidence in the community after which they can send larger ones.

Another key point is that the contributor must sign a Contribution License Agreement before they put the first pull request into the repository.

Do you want to become a contributor? Participate in the project as a developer.


These are the most important members of the community who have need for the project. They make the project purposeful.

There are no specific requirements to becoming a user.

It is important that you take part in the life of the project as much as you can since your contributions allow the project team to ensure that they satisfy the needs of users. Simple user activities include:

  • Writing documentation and tutorials
  • Informing developers on strengths and weaknesses from the view of a new user
  • Promoting the use of the project
  • Taking part in the mailing list
  • Requesting for features and filing bug reports

Do you want to participate as a user? Download the Wix Toolset and participate in the mailing lists.

Online meetings

Click here for a Wix tutorial with guidelines on the online meetings.


Development involves:

  • Logistics and coding
  • Building Wix
  • Code style
  • Wix improvements proposal
  • Contribution licence agreement

Mailing lists

Mailing lists are a great platform for asking questions and making suggestions and engaging with Wix users and developers.

As such, make sure you first subscribe to the list before sending the emails.

This prevents spam on your mailing list. To join a mailing list, click here.


1. What is Wix toolset for developers?

In full, Wix is Windows Installer XML. It is a toolset with a free software that builds Windows installer packages from XML. It consists a command-line environment that developers can integrate in their build processes to create MSM and MSI packages.

What is Wix tool?

Wix tool allows you to create a Windows installer-based deployment package to use in your application. The toolset is based on a declarative XML authoring model. You can use Wix on the command line through MSBuild and Wix tools.

What is Wix in Visual studio?

Wix uses Votive, which is a visual studio add-in. It allows creating and setting up of projects using the Visual Studio IDE. On the same note, it is also known for supporting syntax highlighting, IntelliSense for .wxs source files which adds a Wix set up type .wixproj to the visual studio.

How long does it take to build a website with Wix?

This depends on the Wix feature that you prefer to use. The Wix ADI (Artificial Development) allows you to create a professional website in just a few minutes by answering a few questions. Contrary, if you want total freedom in creating a website, you can start from scratch and design your website using the drag and drop features on the Wix Editor

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