Building Windows Installers with the WiX Toolset

PyOxidizer supports building Windows installers (e.g. .msi and .exe installer files) using the WiX Toolset. PyOxidizer leverages the Tugger shipping tool for integrating with WiX. See Using the WiX Toolset to Produce Windows Installers for the full Tugger WiX documentation.

Tugger - and PyOxidizer by extension - are able to automatically create XML files used by WiX to define installers with common features as well as use pre-existing WiX files. This enables Tugger/PyOxidizer to facilitate both simple and arbitrarily complex use cases.

Extensions to Tugger Starlark Dialect

PyOxidizer supplements Tugger’s Starlark dialect with additional functionality that makes building Python application installers simpler. For example, instead of manually constructing a WiX installer, you can call a method on a Python Starlark type to convert it into an installer.

PyOxidizer provides the following extensions and integrations with Tugger’s Starlark dialect:

Adds a Python resource type to Tugger’s starlark_tugger.FileManifest.
Adds an iterable of Python resource types to Tugger’s starlark_tugger.FileManifest type.
Converts a PythonExecutable to a starlark_tugger.FileManifest. Enables materializing an executable/application as a set of files, which Tugger can easily operate against.

Converts a PythonExecutable to a starlark_tugger.WiXBundleBuilder.

This method will produce a starlark_tugger.WiXBundleBuilder. that is pre-configured with appropriate settings and state for a Python application. The produced .exe installer should just work.


Converts a PythonExecutable to a starlark_tugger.WiXMSIBuilder.

This method will produce a starlark_tugger.WiXMSIBuilder that is pre-configured to install a Python application and all its support files. The MSI will install all files composing the Python application, excluding system-level dependencies.

Choosing an Installer Creation Method

Tugger provides multiple Starlark primitives for defining Windows installers built with the WiX Toolset. Which one should you use?

See Tugger’s WiX APIs for a generic overview of this topic. The remainder of this documentation will be specific to Python applications.

It is is important to call out that unless you are using the static Python distributions, binaries built with PyOxidizer will have a run-time dependency on the Visual C++ Redistributable runtime DLLs (e.g. vcruntime140.dll). Many Windows applications have a dependency on these DLLs and most Windows machines have installed an application that has installed the required DLLs. So not distributing vcruntimeXXX.dll with your application may just work most of the time. However, on a fresh Windows installation, these required files may not exist. So it is important that they be installed with your application.

When using PythonExecutable.to_wix_msi_builder() or PythonExecutable.to_wix_bundle_builder(), PyOxidizer will automatically add the Visual C++ Redistributable to the installer if it is required. However, the method varies. For bundle installers, the installer will contain the official VC_Redist*.exe installer and this installer will be executed as part of running your application’s installer. For MSI installers, Tugger will attempt to locate the vcruntimeXXX.dll files on your system (this requires an installation of Visual Studio) and copy these files next to your built/installed executable.s

If you are not using one of the aforementioned APIs to create your installer, you will need to explicitly add the Visual C++ Redistributable to your installer. The starlark_tugger.WiXMSIBuilder.add_visual_cpp_redistributable() and starlark_tugger.WiXBundleBuilder.add_vc_redistributable() Starlark methods can be called to do this. (PyOxidizer’s Starlark methods for creating WiX installers effectively call these methods.)