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App-V Tools Part 7

In previous App-V Tools articles I took a look at all kind of freeware tools available for App-V 4.x and earlier called SoftGrid. Now Microsoft released App-V 5 a while ago. With App-V 5 the whole product is redesigned so all previous tools cannot be used on this environment. However the App-V community is really great and there are already a whole bunch of new freeware tools developed and published. In this seventh part of my App-V tools series I’m going to look at the first set of App-V 5 tools. There are already more out, so expected a part 8 (and probably more) in the near future.

 

App-V 5 Configuration Editor




The first utility I would like to introduce is the App-V 5 Configuration Editor (ACE) created by the guys behind Virtual Engine. The tool is delivered as a single MSI file and the installation is really straight forwarded. You can specify the shortcuts placement, the destination location and you need to accept license agreement. ACE can be used to edit the new user and machine XML files. If you are familiar with App-V you can compare those files with the previous OSD files. Read this article for more information about those configuration files. By default those files should be edited directly in the files, so there is no GUI build around it by Microsoft. ACE is providing that GUI for the most common options in those files like StartProcess, StartVirtualEnvironment and many others. Also the shortcuts can be edited. What I really like of the ACE is that you can compare the original XML and the XML that will be generated by ACE reflecting the changes you have made with the tool.

Immidio App-V 5 VE Launcher

One of the most used tools in App-V 4.x environments were the tools that made it really easy to start utilities within the Virtual Environment to troubleshoot sequences. Immidio App-V 5 VE Launcher is a utility that offers the same functionality for App-V 5. The tool is based on PowerShell, so the tool is delivered as a PS1 file. After starting the PS1 file a GUI is started you can select the package out of a list of available packages on the client (assigned to the user), followed by specifying the executable you would like to run within the virtual environment (for example cmd.exe).

The specified executable is started after hitting the run button and troubleshooting can be started.

App-V 5 Server Best Practices Analyzer

The App-V Server Best Practices Analyzer (BPA) is an addition to the Microsoft Baseline Configuration Analyzer. Therefore the Baseline Configuration Analyzer 2.0 need to available for installing the App-V Server BPA (a link is provided when you start the installation of the App-V Server BPA). The App-V Server BPA is delivered as a single MSI file. The installation needs to enable PowerShell remoting for which an approval is asked during the installation. Also the license agreement need to be agreed during the installation.

After the installation you need to start the Microsoft Baseline Configuration Analyzer, select the server you would like to check (you can use local if you installed it on the App-V server, but that is not a best practice) and select the App-V Server 5.0 BPA. Next you can select which tests you would like to run to which servers. After the test a report will be shown as below shown figure.

By default the warnings and errors are shown, but you can change the view so all results are shown. At the defaults and warning more information is provided about the issue including the impact and a resolution.

App-V 5 Package PowerShell CmdLets

Again delivered by the people behind Virtual Engine are the App-V 5 Package PowerShell CmdLets. This is a PowerShell module to see or extract the information available in the .Appv file, without opening the package within the sequencer. The files in zip file you download need to be added to the module directory (this can be based on the user or machine module folder). After adding the directory to the module folder you are ready to open PowerShell and import the module (Import-Module VirtualEngine-AppV5). After that you are ready to execute the available commands (via Get-Command –Module VirtualEngine*). Most of the commands will be used for troubleshooting the packages and see quickly the information with the package.

I personally found App-V5FilePackage and App-VFileReport useful to have quickly access to the information of the package

NoMoreFour

App-V 5 is using a complete new format for the packages. Logically this is causing that packages sequenced for App-V 4.x cannot be used anymore within App-V 5 infastructures. Logically Microsoft created a solution that the packages can be converted into the App-V format. This is done on the App-V sequencer using (you are guessing for a fridge)…… PowerShell. NoMoreFour by Michel Stevelmans is offering this converting option using a GUI. NoMoreFour is delivered as ZIP file, which exist of three files (one executable and two DLL files). Just copy those to a location together and you can start the utility (so no installation is required).

NoMoreFour is using three steps: What, where you can add the App-V 4.x into the GUI;
where, to specify where the converted App-V package should be placed and Now, where you can test or actually execute the conversion. Logically the succesrate of the conversion is still dependent on the PowerShell scripts, NoMoreFour is just creating a user interface around the standard provided tools.

Conclusion

In a pretty short time period several freeware utilities are already available for the App-V 5 platform. Most of them are currently providing GUIs for functionality that is now only available as PowerShell commands or the need to open the sequencer for just looking at information in the package. My personal favorites for now are the App-V 5 Configuration Editor (ACE) and the Immidio App-v 5 VE Launcher.