Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Thinstall becomes ThinApp: Life is (Still) Good

I'm glad to see project "Northstar" is getting closer to RTM. Formerly called "Thinstall", it will now be "ThinApp" and adds some very useful new features since it was acquired by EMC/VMware last year. Among the notable new features are "Application Link" and "Application Sync".

"Application Link" adds inter-package communication and process linking, whereby one virtual application package or session can communicate with another. This is extremely useful for decoupling staple products like .NET Framework or JRE from the many applications that rely upon them. Not to mention different versions of each. For example, you can build two JRE packages, one for 1.4 and another for 1.6, to suit specific application needs, and then build separate packages for those applications. That allows for using the JRE 1.6 package with more than just one application and still having all of them contained and delivered as virtual apps.

"Application Sync" adds something like SoftGrid streaming to deployed packages. Sort of. It's not really a feature block capability, but more like the update and repost capability where packages self update after the source is updated. This is something you select/specify during the package building process. Once you specify the URL to the source package, each time the remote/desktop package is launched, it will check the source location for a newer version and automatically download it if necessary. You can even specify the checking frequency, from 1 minute to however many days or whatever. There's more, so refer to the web site and demo videos for more information, or read the documentation, and download the beta and give it a try.

If you currently only use InstallShield or Wise or whatever to package MSI installers, MST transforms, etc. and have never really given AppVirt technologies a try, you should. You REALLY should. They can save you an enormous amount of time and headache. The benefit in terms of cost vs savings will vary according the complexity of your environment and the manner by which you prepare, deploy and maintain software products on your clients.

Video examples of both features are linked from the bottom of the Project Northstar web site.
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