With the WiX Toolset we can create Windows installation packages (MSI) from xml files. And the only thing that we need is the WiX Toolset and a text editor.

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In this example (Figure 1) we will use the WiX Toolset add-in (Votive) for Microsoft Visual Studio that is part of the WiX Toolset installation so we don’t have to worry about the WiX Toolset build process.

To create a basic setup that is based on WIX we need to write an XML file with the extension *.wxs. To help you create the MSI there are some (free or paid) tools available, but because WIX is XML based a lot of the available editors are text editors.

To make it easier to create a WiX based MSI you can use tools that will hide the xml for you and only show an (GUI) Graphical User Interface where you can change things like product name, manufacturer, or the location where the program will be installed. Some tools will have a nice Wizard to create you're MSI steps like adding files.

The problem here is that when we hide the xml we need to stick with that software product because with a lot of tools the result will be is a MSI file and not the XML file (Figure 2) and switching to another setup tool will undo the work already done.
This doesn’t have to be a problem but in some cases it can be. What if you just want to change a small thing to the MSI or you want more control over the setup build process or the company where you work is using the WiX Toolset without an option to use other tools to change the setup.

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The solution to this problem is not to use a tool that uses the WiX Toolset to create the MSI but to use the WiX Toolset an edit the xml with WixPie and you’re favorite text editor. (Figure 3)

WixPie is not just a tool to create MSI files, with WixPie you can create or change the XML files that you need to build the MSI file with the WiX Toolset.

And with WixPie you have the freedom to edit you’re XML code directly but with the option to switch to a GUI to display or change the XML.

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