Tag Archives: 5.0

App-V 5.0 (Beta1) Shortcut Editing Tricks

I have been having a problem with some of my sequences with the new App-V 5.0 Beta1 release; sometimes the client doesn’t get changes I make to the shortcut/FTA settings in the sequence editor.

I mentioned this to Patrick before I headed off to speak at the Citrix Synergy “Geek Speak Live” in San Francisco last week. He was supposed to be looking into those deployment and user config files and figure out just how and where we really want to use them (a work still in progress), but he couldn’t make progress unless he knew just what the client would reliably get from a given sequence without them. So he figured something new out.

In the App-V 5.0 Beta1 sequencer, the sequencer detects shortcuts and file type associations created during the installation phase. Previously, I have reported issues (with 4.6 SP1) that if FTAs are created during the Configure phase these will be missed, and this still applies to the 5.0 Beta1. This issue is creatly seen with sequencing 7Zip if you do not launch 7Zip after installing itduring the installation phase.

But in the 5.0 Beta1 sequencer, the later application editing phase that used to be in the wizard has been moved to the sequence editor. This move is a good change as it means that whichever wizard option you take you can still get to the application editor. But that only helps if the changes are remembered!

What Patrick figured out through trial and error, is that in the sequence editor we seem to be able to make some changes but not others.

  • Deleting an entire application (from the app name) works
  • Removing a shortcut from within an application works
  • Removing an FTA from within an application works
  • Changing the name only of an application works
  • Changing the location of a startmenu shortcut from the main dialogfails
  • Changing the location of a shortcut from the advanced dialog works

So if the application added a shortcut during install phase to the startmenu, for example to the root of the start menu so that it appears without a subfolder, you should not try to edit the location in the location box next to the startmenu check box. If you do, the client will get the old location for the shortcut. The only way to change the location of a startmenu appears to be to uncheck the startmenu box and then add a new shortcut using the advanced menu.

The bottom line is that with 5.0 Beta1, if at all possible, make shortcut changes manually in the installation phase to ensure that the client gets what you expect. If you must edit shortcuts in the sequence editor, only do so in the advanced dialog.

Breaking into the new APP-V 5.0 APPV format

Note:This is part of a series on App-V 5.0: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5

One of the new surprises to be seen in the App-V 5.0 Beta is that the old SFT format is gone, replaced by an AppV format.  So what’s up with that?

The SFT format was created for the original SoftGrid product in order to support the groundbreaking file system we created to support streaming on a block, rather than file, basis.  This file system, which we called the “Jigsaw” file system internally, was unique from any other file system due to this feature.  Most of the Softricity patents were based around this file system and it’s usage.  Any other file system, CIFS, NFS, and others, could only remotely copy entire files, but this file system could bring over portions of files on an as-needed basis.  To make use of this unique feature, we needed a file format that presented these blocks to be streamed, and this was the SFT format.

In the App-V 5.0 Beta, Microsoft has removed the Jigsaw file system, as exposed by the Q: drive, and thus also chose to eliminate the SFT format and replace it with a new AppV format.  I think that this effectivly eliminates block level streaming, but I stopped being a fan of that feature many years ago, so big loss there.  So just what is this AppV formatted file?

Basically a compressed folder.  After sequencing a new package with the 4.0 Beta, I made a copy of this .AppV file, and renamed the file extenstion to .zip.  Now I can browse and look into the APPV file.  I’m not sure if I can make any changes here, as it might be based on a compressed format with something special that I might break by saving a change, but at least I can look around.  Here is an example:

AppV format

So since the SFT format is gone, does this also mean the end of the 4GB limitation?  You betcha!

App-V 5.0 Beta: The End of CSIDLs

Note:This is part of a series on App-V 5.0: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5

Plowing my way through the new Sequencer.  Looking at the options page of the sequencer, the ParseItems look a little different.

ParseItems

One of the most important jobs of the sequencer is to make the package Machine, OS, and User neutral.  The sequencer does this by locating hard coded paths in the windows registry, file path info, and maybe looking into some files like .ini files (although some of that latter support has been removed over the years).

When we built the product, we latched onto a Microsoft developer technique to produce code that was OS neutral – CSIDL.    This stands for “Common System InDependent” plus something starting in the letter L.  Different documentation in the day called it “List” or “Link” depending on which you found.  CSIDL solved the problem of a client windows installed to the Windows folder or WindowsNT folder (which was popular at that time), or on a drive other than “C” (popular under Citrix).  When Windows Vista came out, it also solved the problem of “Documents and Settings” versus “Users” folder names.  So whenever the sequencer saw “C:\WindowsNT” it would replace it with “%CSIDL_WINDOWS” in the sft package.  Then the client could replace the CSIDL with whatever was appropriate there.

Microsoft originally documented the CSIDLs in a KB article that has long since been removed.  It was updated in each OS release to include sections of OS specific changes.  App-V, at least prior to 5.0, used these CSIDLS like environment variables in these Parse Items.  There were a few non CSIDL additions as became necessary, like the famous %SFT_MNT% (representing the Q: drive).

But with Windows Vista, Microsoft deprecated CSIDL and removed the KB (It seems they now have one with a partial listing ) and started recommending developers use a new, but very similar KNOWNFOLDERID  KNOWNFOLDERID syntax.

It was unclear how App-V would handle this transition, and until this Beta they have been able to ignore it.  But here in the 5.0 Beta, we can see that they have replaced the old CSIDL syntax with an App-V specific syntax that they can map into whatever the OS supports to help with the mapping.  This is nothing more than in internal plumbing change that will make it easier as the OS continues to evolve.