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Windows Installer XML Samples

This repository contains samples I use for Windows Installer XML (WiX) workshops and trainings.

If you will participate in one of my trainings and you are looking for a list of software and tools you are going to need, please read the corresponding blog article.

Although my main business is our SaaS solution time cockpit, I also offer trainings and workshops on various software development topics. MSI with WiX is one of them. If you like my samples and slides and you want to get a jump-start by doing a workshop with me, please contact me at

Related blog posts

Every now and then I write blog posts with detailed information about certain topics. Here are links to WiX-related posts (might be out of date, please check for a list of all available posts):


Feel free to download my WiX slidedeck.



WiX Basics

Demo installer for learning WiX basics. It covers:

  • Basic structure of WiX files in Product.wxs (e.g. Product, Package, MediaTemplate, Directory structure, Components, Shortcuts, Registry Values, Features, references to built-in UI, etc.)
  • Signing of MSI packages including generation of dev certificates in SignMSI.cmd

.NET Project and Installer in a Single Solution

Another demo for learning WiX basics. In addition to WiX Basics it covers:

  • Usage of project references in WiX projects (see Product.wxs): <File Id="FILE_DotNetToolExe" Source="$(var.DotNetTool.TargetPath)" KeyPath="yes" />
  • Binder variables (see Product.wxs): Version="!(bind.fileVersion.FILE_DotNetToolExe)"
  • Preprocessor (see Product.wxs): <?if $(var.ProcessorArchitecture)=x64 ?> ... <?else ?> ... <?endif ?>

Registry Searches

Another demo for learning WiX basics. In addition to WiX Basics it covers registry searches (see Product.wxs).

Composite WPF Application With Installer

This sample contains a composite WPF application that uses MEF (Managed Extensibility Framework) for loading extensions and Sandcastle for generating SDK documentation (see CompositeWpfApp.Documentation).

The sample contains two setup projects. CompositeWpfApp.Install generates a single installer. CompositeWpfApp.InstallCab generates an installer with multiple CAB files. See blog article Shipping large MSI installers via Azure Blob Storage for how to deploy MSI packages with multiple CAB files via web and Microsoft Azure.

The sample also contains a Burn bootstrapper sample in CompositeWpfApp.Bootstrapper. It create two separate MSI files (one for the application, one for the extension) and chains them into a single installer exe (see Bundle.wxs). It uses the built-in UI of Burn.

Harvesting and installing COM DLLs

This sample demonstrate how to create a WiX setup installing a COM DLL. It also comes with a simple COM server written in C# that can be used for experiments (see SimpleComServer.cs).

The sample harvests the COM DLL during compilation. Check project file if you want to see how this is done. The installer itself is therefore quite simple.

	<HarvestFile Include="$(ProjectDir)..\ComDllToRegister\bin\$(Configuration)\ComDllToRegister.dll">

Installing Windows Services

I have created this sample to demonstrate the creation of MSI packages for installing Windows Services.

The sample contains a simple demo service written in C#. This demo service just writes into Windows Eventlog on a regular basis (see EventLoggingService.cs).

The installer used to install the demo service is shown in Product.wxs.

<Component Id="CMP_Service" Directory="INSTALLFOLDER">
	<!-- Install service executable -->
	<File Id="FILE_EventLoggingService" 
			KeyPath="yes" />
	<!-- Install service -->
	<ServiceInstall Id="InstallELS"
					Description="WiX EventLoggingService Sample"
	<!-- Set start/stop/remove options -->
	<ServiceControl Id="ControllELS"
					Wait="yes" />

C++ Custom Actions

This is a more advanced WiX sample. It demonstrates the development of a custom action written in C++. The scenario of the sample is a MSI package for installing a Visual Studio Snippet. The target directory is determined by a combination of different custom actions.

A detailed description of the sample can be found at VisualStudioSnippetInstaller.

.NET Custom Actions and Custom MSI UIs

This is a more advanced WiX sample. It demonstrates the development of a custom action written in C# to validate a given SQL Server name (see CustomAction.cs). If you want to play with it and debug the C# custom action, just add the following two lines to the beginning of the custom action:


The C# custom action is used in the installer Product.wxs. Note that this installer has a custom WiX UI in AdditionalDialog.wxs. It calls into the C# custom action.

Adding the IIS Server Role, installing ASP.NET web applications

This sample consists of two parts. First, Product.wxs contains an installer that makes a Windows Server 2012 a web server by adding the necessary features using dism.exe. It does that by using WiX's CAQuietExec64 feature so that the output windows of dism.exe is hidden. Additionally, this sample shows how to use the WiX WixUtilExtension to find out if IIS is already installed (IISMAJORVERSION property).

The second part of the sample demonstrates how to install an OWIN ASP.NET web application into IIS using WiX. For that, the sample contains a very simple web site in Startup.cs. The installer Product.wxs performs the following tasks:

  • Install the files necessary for the OWIN web site
  • Create a new website in IIS (iis:WebSite)
  • Create a new virtual directory in the website (iis:WebDirProperties)
  • Creates a new application pool for the application (iis:WebAppPool). Note that the pool is configured to use the v4.0 integrated pipeline so that OWIN will work.
  • Creates a new application in the website (iis:WebApplication) and makes it using the new application pool

Creating Patches

This sample (Patch) just demonstrates the basics of patch creation with WiX.

Custom Burn Bootstrapper UI

This sample demonstrates how to use WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation) to create a custom bootrapper UI using WiX Burn. It consists of the following parts:

Note that:

  • The WPF UI uses MEF (Managed Extensibility Framework) for dependency injection
  • The WPF UI is built based on the MVVM (Model View ViewModel) design principle using the Microsoft Prism framework
  • For demo purposes, the WPF UI handles (nearly) all Burn events and writes them into the log (including parameter values, see InstallerMainWindowViewModel.cs). If you want to learn about custom bootstrapper UIs, you can run the sample and generate a log file (Bootstrapper.exe /log log.txt). Afterwards take a look at the log file. You will see the order and parameters of the Burn events. Play with different scenarios (e.g. install, uninstall, etc.) to understand how the events work.

Tip: A great source for learning how to use WPF together with Burn is the installer of the WiX toolset itself. Grab the sourcecode (see and step it through in the debugger (see tip above about how to attach a debugger to C# code running with WiX and/or Burn).

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