Twenty years ago today, the WiX Toolset was released as Open Source. Twenty years is a long time in the software industry. So, while many people like to focus on the Open Source part of the WiX story, I want to take a moment and reflect on what enables the WiX Toolset to thrive after all these years.

A Principled Accomplishment

When I look back over the last twenty years, I believe we've come so far by staying true to one guiding principle.

Installation packages should be built as part of the standard development process

That means developers edit text-based source files that are managed in source control and compiled as part of the build process, just like all the other code that makes up a product. This was an idea I shopped around Microsoft as an intern in 1998. When I returned a year later as a full-time software engineer, I started a small side project to implement my idea using a then-new technology called XML. That is how the WiX Toolset was born.

Along the way, like-minded software developers inside Microsoft joined me to create a small community working together on WiX. On April 5, 2004, WiX was made available publicly, and our small community grew outside the walls of Microsoft. We celebrate that day as our anniversary because that was the day all of you were finally able to join us on this mission to create the best software installation packages possible using standard development processes.

Adapting to Change

Development processes also changed over the last twenty years. Everything is faster now. Twenty years ago, it was common for packaged software to release every couple of years with a service pack or two in between. Today, (pretty much) all desktop software is distributed online on a quarterly or even faster release cadence.

The principles that provided the foundation for the WiX Toolset allowed it to adapt quite well to the world of many git branches and continuous integration build systems. And with WiX v5 released today, one year after the release of WiX v4, we're also adapting to the expectations of development tools today.

So, if you'll indulge me, I'll end this twenty year reminiscence by promoting FireGiant a little. FireGiant employs that small group of developers who work on the WiX Toolset. If you are looking for software installation insight, guidance, tools, and/or everyday support for your product, we have the experience to solve your software installation needs.

Check out how we can partner with you today.