App-V Sequencing

by [Published on 12 Jan. 2010 / Last Updated on 12 Jan. 2010]

The basic steps in creating a virtualized application using the App-V application virtualization product.

Introduction

In my last article, I described the installation of the App-V Sequencer. In this article, I will describe the basic steps needed in order to create a virtualized application using the App-V application virtualization product.

The creation of a virtualized application with App-V (formerly known as SoftGrid) is called sequencing. The complete package is created using the Microsoft Application Virtualization Sequencer. Just like other application virtualization products, this App-V (or MAV) sequencer has to be installed on a clean system. The best way is to use a virtual machine, so you can use the snapshot technique to quickly recover the sequencer station back to his original state.

The first step is to start the Microsoft Application Profiler software component. By default, the shortcut is located in Start Menu\All Programs\Microsoft Application Virtualization\Microsoft Application Virtualization Sequencer.


Figure 1

The process of creating a new sequence needs to be started using the New Package button.


Figure 2

The Sequencing Wizard will start automatically. The first step is to fill in the package name. Although you can fill in anything it is best practice to use the 8.3 Naming Convention Name, which is required in the so called asset folder (the folder in which the application is installed on the App-V Drive). Therefore, I used AcrRdr8 as the package name. In the Comments field you can fill additional information. I often use this field to mentioning the person who created the sequence and the full application information.


Figure 3

If you checked the option “Show Advanced Monitoring Options” in the first step, the dialog box below will appear. For most applications, you do not need to alter these settings. For specific Microsoft applications this can be done to use Microsoft Updates. The block size does not need any tuning.


Figure 4

Next you can start the Monitoring process via the Begin Monitoring button which loads the virtual layer.


Figure 5

Before you can start the actual application installation you need to specify where the application will be installed primarily. App-V is using a specific drive and it is best practice to install the applications on the partition with the drive letter that the App-V client uses for the App-V drive (default is Q). Only install the application on another drive (probably C: ) when the App-V drive cannot be used, because of performance reasons.

It is also very important (as I just mentioned) that the asset folder is created with the 8.3 naming convention.


Figure 6

Next, the actual application installation can be started. In this article I will use Acrobat Reader. Remember that it is best practice to install the application on the App-V Drive, so change the destination location to the asset folder.


Figure 7

When the installation of the application is finalized, you need to recall the App-V wizard again and use the Stop Monitoring button.


Figure 8

When necessary additional installations are required (and the previous application required a reboot) then Begin Monitoring can be used again to continue with the next installation. In this case we do not need any additional applications, so we continue with the Next button.


Figure 9

Optional additional files can be updated. This option is not very efficient, so most people do not use them. Only when upgrading an existing sequence with one or two files is this dialog box useful.


Figure 10

In the Configure Applications window, the available shortcuts are displayed. You can edit the shortcut(s), add and/or remove them.


Figure 11

During the application process you can start the applications. Within App-V this task has two purposes. First, some applications need some configuration parts done at first startup (for example adding a license key). Secondly the steps performed during this application launch are added in the so called Feature Block 1 (FR1). FR1 is the first part (together with the required components to start the application) that will be streamed to the client, so the most used features are directly available for the users. Although with App-V 4.5 the caching methods are changed, it is still a good idea to add logical actions like “open a file”, “create a new file” and so on.


Figure 12

After the application is launched and you started the necessary options you can continue with the wizard via the Next button.


Figure 13

With the Finish button the wizard is closed and the sequencer pops up again.


Figure 14

Within the sequencer several tabs are displayed. The first tab, where you are required to configure settings, is the Deployment tab. Within this tab you need to configure the protocol used by your App-V server, an optional name of the App-V server (if you are not using the environment variable %SFT_SOFTGRIDSERVER% or your own environment variable), the used port can be changed and the path need to be specified. It is best practice to use the same name as the asset folder. This path is the location of the package on the App-V Content Directory.

You can also configure which platforms you would like the application to start from (it is only a simple check).

New in App-V 4.5 is the option to enforce security in the virtual layer (in previous versions Full Control was always applied). I do not recommend that you use this setting, only in particular scenarios should this be evoked.

App-V sequences can be used in several ways. One of the options is standalone (i.e. you do not need a App-V server). If you would like to use the standalone part you can check the option Generate Microsoft Windows Installer Package.


Figure 15

On the tabs Virtual Registry and Virtual File System you can make changes to the registry settings and files. You can delete, edit or add both registry and files on these tabs. You can also configure if the registry and files within the sequence should override or merge with the local available information.


Figure 16

App-V also supports virtualized services. When services are detected those are displayed here and changes to the configuration can be made.


Figure 17

The OSD is the part of the sequence that is used to start the application. It is possible to make changes to the OSD file via the sequencer, but this process is pretty inefficient. Better ways are to manually edit the OSD file using a text editor or using the OSD editor provided by Jan van der Elst.


Figure 18

When all the changes are made to the package the sequence can be saved using the save button.


Figure 19

It is a best practice to create a separate folder for each sequence. I always use the same name for the folder that I used for the package name and the asset folder. In this case AcrRdr8, which I also used for the file name of the SPRJ file.


Figure 20

The following step is to copy the sequence folder to your App-V Content folder(s).


Figure 21

Depending on the way you enrolled the App-V infrastructure. When using the Full Infrastructure deployment the sequence should be added to the management console. After adding the sequence to the console to the application is available to the end users.

When using the lightweight infrastructure option you need to arrange that the application is assigned using your way to deliver applications to the end user (for example using a User Management Product).


Figure 22

Conclusion

In this article I explained the steps to create a virtualized application using the Microsoft App-V Technology. The virtualization process is called Sequencing, using the App-V Sequencer. Besides the step by step guide the article mentions several best practices for sequencing applications.

The Author — Wilco van Bragt

Wilco van Bragt avatar

After working for a couple of consulting firms as a senior technical consultant and technical project leader Wilco started his own freelance company VanBragt.Net Consultancy in April 2008. Wilco is certified n Citrix (CCIA, CCEE/CCEA, CCA), Microsoft (MCITP, MCTS, MSCE, MSCA) and Prince2 (Foundation). Wilco is also a RSVP (RES Software Valued Professional), Citrix CTP (Citrix Technology Professional) and a Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional) on RDS.

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