A patch family has 2 meanings in this context, it specifies which changes you would like in any given patch, and also provides a mechanism for supercedence and dependency tracking. I'm not going to get into supercedence here other than to say that for each patch family in a patch will get an entry in the MsiPatchSequence table.

The PatchFamily element is a child of the Patch element. You can have as many PatchFamily elements in a Patch as you want. Under a PatchFamily element, there is a set of Reference elements that can be used to pull various items into your patch. Just as in your product authoring, referencing anything in a Fragment will result in that entire fragment being pulled in. WiX will handle file and media sequencing as well as the Sequence tables for you.


This PatchFamily would select the Fragment that contains the Component "MyComponent" and add it to the patch.

<PatchFamily Id="MyPatchFamily" supercede="yes">
    <ComponentRef "MyComponent" />

One thing to note is that there are rules about patch families. Once you ship a patch family, you must keep its references the same or add to it (grow it) but never remove items from it. All items in your product must be a part of only one patch family. When you change the build that you are targeting (re-baseline), patch families start over so you can change the contents and asociations at this time.