A very quick update about what is coming in 3.3.It is not an exhaustive list of new features but rather just some of my favourite highlights.
3.3 is a major overhaul of ConversionBox that includes some great new enhancements and new features.
My top features
• Automatic conversion of executable installers and scripts to App-V
• Advanced Reporting
• All Windows 7 ISO’s are now supported (x86 and x64)
• New CLI functionality
• Multiple conversions
• Assisted Mode
Executable Installer conversions – no silent arguments required
It is the automatic conversions of executables and scripts that I am particular excited about.
We were often asked why we don’t offer executable conversions. Everyone else is offering “automated” executable conversions so why not AutonoWare?
Well, I always had a problem with other solutions that offer this functionality in that they are not really giving you the full picture and when you drill down into their solution it becomes clear that you need to provide silent arguments beforehand. I believe that providing a silent argument beforehand for every application is not Automation.
I mean, what’s the point of an automation system if you need to find the silent arguments for every executable that you want to convert? Not only will you need to find these silent arguments but you will also need to test them before you start any auto-conversions. Do this a few times over and you quickly realize that you were better off doing it manually in the first place!
At AutonoWare, we believe in doing it right as much as we believe in automation that makes your life easier. Honesty and transparency is very important to us and that’s why for example we will never tell you that everything can be automated, but we provide you with a powerful reporting engine to quickly establish what is really possible and what is not.
We wanted to do it right and if we were going to bring out an executable conversion module then it should be in a form of true automation and not just a semi-automated solution that others are offering.
It is this belief in doing it right that took us over a year in development to come up with a solution to convert executables in a truly automated fashion.
From 3.3 onwards, you can now also drag and drop in any executable or script and ConversionBox will do the rest for you. No silent arguments are necessary. ConversionBox will even figure out what is (and isn’t) an installation routine.
All ReportFull features are also available when dragging in executables and scripts. If you want to quickly figure out what installation executables are compatible with Windows 7 or App-V then just drag it all into ConversionBox and run a ReportFull. The best thing is that it is completely free if you have a ConversionBox Base License.You can then quickly find out at no additional cost which applications can be auto-converted and which ones you have to send to the Sequencing specialists.
Make sense of your sources
This is especially useful if you are given a big mix of applications that contain MSI’s, executables and installation scripts. Instead of spending valuable time sifting through the mix, you can now just run ConversionBox, then quickly prioritise your workload. You will then instantly know which applications can be automatically converted with ConversionBox and which requires manual effort and which need vendor support. By the time your manual sequencing experts have started you will probably have a huge chunk of your applications in UAT already, which in turn will leave the UAT pipeline free when the manual packages come through.
Not just a fancy UI
Actually converting executables by providing the silent arguments beforehand (again – not really automation) is technically very easy and we have had it available via our command line interface for a while now. We didn’t really promote this well as we believed it wasn’t real automation.
Incidentally, if you read my previous blog “WHAT’S UNDER YOUR HOOD? POWERSHELL?” then solutions that require you to provide a silent argument is yet another indicator of them just using the App-V PowerShell command. So if anyone else claims that they can auto-convert executables then ask them if they can do it without the silent arguments !
Complete Windows 7 support (32bit /64bit)
In previous versions we only supported certified Microsoft ISO’s but have found that a lot of our customers create their own deployment ISO’s and wished to use them in their automated conversion process. In response to this we have now updated our ISO installation routines to include all Windows 7 ISO’s. Just drag in any Windows 7 ISO and ConversionBox will do the rest for you.
ConversionBox now also supports the 32bit version of Windows 7 and our reporting will detect issues for both CPU types automatically.
A 16bit file that is launched on a 64bit machine will raise an error for Win7 64bit but not for Win7 32bit as the 16 file will probably launch on 32bit system.
I think ReportFull is indispensable if you are still deciding to either roll out Windows 7 64bit or 32bit or if you are not sure whether to sequence on a 64bit or 32bit environment .
You might find that you have loads of legacy 16bit applications and hence decide on a multiple CPU platform roll out strategy and as such will probably want to sequence on a Windows7 32bit platform. ConversionBox can help you make that decision accurately and quickly.
If you ever need to make a decision on whether to go to 64bit or if virtualisation is for your organisation then please do yourself a favour and run ReportFull. It will quickly give you an actual non-biased view of your application estate.
How can we be so confident of this? We are so confident of this because we actually install the application in our reporting and not just scan the file.
If you like analogies then think of ConversionBox reporting as a trusted friend that is standing out in the rain telling you that it is actually raining versus a pretty presenter in a studio far removed from the situation telling you that there is a 60% chance of rain. The presenter relays a complex prediction (based on 1000’s of rules they say) and your trusted friend cuts right through all of that by giving you the actual weather. Which one is more accurate?
(We actually give the testing based on flat file scanning (the presenter interpretation) away for free. Just download the ConversionBox Trial and switch on ReportLite)
ConversionBox together with the new ISO installer now gives you 3 levels of specifying your own pre-requirements. You can now set pre-requirements at:
- An ISO level – your own requirements that are “baked” in with your custom ISO that you provide.
- A Session level – modify the base session – see previous blog “HOW TO CREATE A CUSTOM IMAGE WITH MICROSOFT OFFICE IN CONVERSIONBOX.”
- An execution level – specify a pre-requirement script that runs before the conversion process.
Actually, there is a 4th level of installing pre-requirements by using the new “Assisted Mode”. In Assisted Mode, you can install your pre-requirements manually before the conversion process.
Assisted Mode lets you interact with the conversion process to make user specific adjustment to the installation. Registering a product with a serial number is a good example of this but you can also chain multiple applications together, in addition to installing pre-requirements beforehand.
Just drag in any folder with dependencies and it will automatically be mapped for you. Then just run the installations for the pre-requirements before you carry out the actual installation. It is as easy as that!
1.) Just drag in a folder with your requirements.
Overhaul of the Command Line interface
The CLI has also been re-developed from the ground up to give even better performances when converting from a script. The /i switch now also handles executables and scripts. In order to convert “setup.exe” to App-V with all possible app-v features just use:
ConversionBox.exe /i setup.exe
That’s it – no silent argument and nothing else needed.
Of course, you can also still create a conversion script directly from the Reporter or just send it straight to ConversionBox. In short, all ReportFull features that you are used to from previous versions are now also available for executables and scripts.
Execute Multiple Modules
Multiple modules can now be selected and executed simultaneously. In the below example, ConversionBox will execute all the “switched on” modules in sequence.
So, what’s next?
Well, I cannot divulge too much here now but suffice to say that we are all aware of other so called “automated cloud “ solutions that are really just a web page slapped over a tool running in the background. Suffice to say, we are spending a lot of our time playing around with Azure goodies.
I am also hoping to have some more time in the coming weeks to delve a little more into the executable and script conversion technology and write up a proper dedicated blog on this matter.
Stay tuned ..
CTO and founder of AutonoWare