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Wix Nixes Orca

Tuesday, April 6, 2004

Maybe 10 months ago I downloaded Orca to tinker with an MSI file on a setup and installation project. While it was nice to twiddle inside of the MSI tables with Orca (ever read the story behind Orca?), the experience is nothing like Wix, which can decompile an MSI file into XML. This is great, because I can now check installations into a source repository as a text file and do DIFFs if needed.

Of course, you can also compile an XML Wix file into an MSI, which means no more fiddling around in a GUI to make changes in an opaque file for you. For some reason Visual Studio setup projects always worry me because I don’t know exactly what I’m changing when I do a save. I always feel there is something sinister at work in the background.

Even more interersting:  the project has been open sourced by Microsoft. It is definitely a strange feeling to go to SourceForge to download MS bits.

That leaves DTS packages as the only other binary pieces under source control that I'd rather see as XML.

Reid Gustin Tuesday, April 6, 2004
I hope you like it! I wanted to make really clear that dark (the decompiler executable) is the newest part of the WiX project, and it still under very active development (read: has bugs). I'm not saying it doesn't work, just that you should be aware. If you're looking for a chunk of the project where contributions would be most welcome, the decompiler fits the bill!
<br>The XML compiling into MSIs is the current core use case, and is what many groups inside Microsoft use it for (and is relatively stable from a development point of view, and extremely solid from a reliability point of view).
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