Best practices to use for sequencing in Microsoft App-V (SoftGrid)

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SUMMARY

This article describes some best practices to use for sequencing in Microsoft App-V (SoftGrid). It also contains some frequently asked questions about the sequencing process. 

MORE INFORMATION

Use the following hierarchy of resources when you are preparing to sequence an application:
  • If a recipe exists, the recipe supersedes any other recommendation. A recipe is a document that contains step-by-step instructions that describe how to package an application by using App-V (SoftGrid) Sequencer. The recipe is based on a set of step-by-step instructions that are created when you perform a local installation of the application to prepare for sequencing the application.
  • The best practices that are described in this article.

Definitions

There are two steps in which you can specify installation paths. This article uses the following terms to describe the paths that you must enter:
  • Installation directory
    The "Installation directory" is the path that you enter in the application-specific dialog box and in the application-generated dialog box. These dialog boxes ask you where you want to install the application. The dialog boxes appear early in the Sequencer Installation Phase.
  • Asset directory
     The "Asset directory" is the path that you enter in the App-V (SoftGrid) Sequencer-generated dialog box that asks where you want to install the application assets. This dialog box appears as the last part of the Sequencer Installation Phase. Make sure that this directory is created in advance.
  • The client destination drive
    The "client destination drive" is the operating system drive from which the App-V (SoftGrid) packaged application is run. This drive is also known as the App-V (SoftGrid) mount point drive. Each application will be mounted on the client computer as Q:\Asset directory. In this path, "Q" is the typical drive letter. On the App-V (SoftGrid) Sequencer computer, you must re-create the client destination drive by using a partition that uses the same drive letter to sequence.

Best practices

  • Before you perform the sequencing operation, make sure that you know how to install and how to run the program. Make sure that you read all installation instructions that are associated with the program. Also, you may want to learn how the program runs. And, you may want to learn the components of the program that the user will need. To improve the sequencing process of a program, document the installation and the post-configuration procedures for the process. When you do this, you can prevent the need for unnecessary troubleshooting during the sequencing process because no important steps will be skipped. Items to document include the following:
    • The application components that are required and the components that will be installed
    • The updates, such as adding new files to the package, that must be performed in App-V (SoftGrid) Sequencer after the installation
    • The post-installation configuration steps that have to occur in App-V (SoftGrid) Sequencer
    • What users typically do with this application immediately after it starts
    • The file types that are associated with this application
    • Any workarounds for issues that may occur if the application does something that App-V (SoftGrid) currently does not support
  • Always document the step-by-step sequencing process to create a "recipe" that uses the standardized template. When you do this, you can give the recipe to someone inside your organization or to an external user so that they can re-create the same package.
  • Use the Comments field in App-V (SoftGrid) Sequencer, the Abstract tag, to record the version of App-V (SoftGrid) Sequencer, to record the service pack of App-V (SoftGrid) Sequencer, and to record the operating system with the date. When you do this, you will have a record of this information when you revisit the sequence later.
  • Always sequence on a computer that has a clean operating system. Make sure that no extraneous applications are installed. The operating system should mirror a typical client on which the sequenced applications will run. A client computer is defined as the computer on which the App-V (SoftGrid) Client software will run. The client can be a Microsoft Windows desktop client, or it can be a terminal server. After the sequencing system is set up, make an image by using a disk image product such as Symantec Norton Ghost. After each sequencing session, you have to rebuild your sequencing computer, or you have to reload an image on to the computer. You may have to sequence the application for each target operating system. For more information, see the "Can I sequence an application on one operating system and then stream it to another operating system?" section.
  • Configure the App-V (SoftGrid) Sequencer computer with at least two primary partitions. Make sure that the first partition, drive C, has the operating system installed and that it is formatted as NTFS. The second partition, drive Q, is used to store the cloned base image. This drive will be used as the destination path for the application installation.
  • Sequence to the client destination drive, typically drive Q. Make sure that the Installation directory is on drive Q and that the Asset directory is on drive Q. App-V (SoftGrid) Sequencer contains functionality to handle exceptions. For example, you can sequence to drive C for applications that will only install to drive C. For more information about how to do this, see the "What do I do if an application must install to drive C?" section. 
  • Sequence to a unique 8.3 directory name. This applies to the Asset directory and to the Installation directory. For example, the following directory names are correct:
    • Q:\MYAPP
    • Q:\MYAPP.001
    However, "Q:\My Application" is not a correct directory name. See the "Why should I sequence an application to a root folder that has a unique name of eight characters or less?" section for more information.
  • Sequence to a folder in the root of the drive. Do not sequence to a subfolder. For example, you cannot sequence to the following locations:
    • Q:\
    • Q:\Temp_Files\Folder name
    If the suite has multiple parts, install each application in a subfolder of the Asset directory. For example, if your Asset directory is "Q:\AppSuite," use the following subfolders:
    • Q:\AppSuite\Oracle
    • Q:\AppSuite\App
  • Always use globally unique paths, SUITE tags, and package names across the set of application sequencings. For example, do not install multiple Microsoft Office sequencings to the same Asset directory name or to the same SUITE tag. Use a standardized naming scheme for the Asset directory that can be incremented for new revisions. For example, use either of the following directory names:
    • Q:\OFFXP.v1
    • Q:\OFFXP.001
    See the "Why should I sequence an application to a root folder that has a unique name of eight characters or less?" section for more information.
  • Configure the application in the Install Phase. Then, test the application in the Install Phase. After you complete the installation of an application, you may have to perform several manual tasks that are not part of the application installation process. These steps may involve configuring a connection to a back-end database, copying updated files, or performing other tasks. Perform these tasks in the Install Phase, and then run the application to make sure that it works.
  • Run the application until the program is in a static state in the Install Phase. You may have to run the application many times. For example, run StarOffice or run Acrobat multiple times to complete all registration requests and to complete all dialog box requests. These applications perform different tasks when you start them the first time, when you start them the second time, and in some cases, each time that you start them later. When you start the application many times, you can make sure that only relevant application code will be installed into Feature Block 1 during the Execution Phase.
  • Use the Shortcut Wizard to start each executable file in a suite of applications. When you do this, each application will have the required initial start data on the App-V (SoftGrid) client.
  • If an application requests a valid restart, click Stop Monitoring to enable App-V (SoftGrid) Sequencer to process the restart tasks. After the restart tasks are complete, click Stop Monitoring, and then click Install Again to continue to install the application if you have to. If the application installer prompts you to restart, click Yes. Many applications unnecessarily request a restart.
  • Sequence as much as you can in a single pass of the Install Phase. Do not click Stop Monitoring after each installer unless the application has to be restarted. You do not have to click Continue Monitoring to reenter the Install Phase unless a restart task is required.
  • Click Stop Installation only if you have to. App-V (SoftGrid) Sequencer monitors the application installation by using a background process. It monitors the first process, the Setup.exe process or the Install.exe process, and any child processes that the installation starts. App-V (SoftGrid) Sequencer also monitors certain services, such as Windows Installer, that may be involved in the installation of the application. When the installation is complete, sometimes App-V (SoftGrid) Sequencer will not detect the application because the installation did not end all the child processes. When this occurs, click  Stop Installation to stop the monitoring process.
  • Disable the Install on First Use option. Some applications have this option for certain components. Make sure that no components are sequenced with this option. You must click either Run from My Computer to install this component, or you must click Not Available not to install this component. Do not install application components that will not be used by any of the targeted users.
  • When you sequence on a Terminal Services computer, configure the operating system to use Application Hosting mode instead of Remote Administration mode.
  • When you sequence large applications, use two hard drives. App-V (SoftGrid) Sequencer uses %TMP%, %TEMP%, and its own scratch directory for large temporary files. If you redirect these directories to a directory on a separate hard disk drive, you can shorten the sequence time. The %TMP% environment and the %TEMP% environment should be changed in the System control panel for the specific user account that will be used for sequencing. To change the App-V (SoftGrid) Sequencer scratch directory, click Options on the Tools menu, click the Path tab, and then change the directory that appears in Scratch Root. For example, on your primary hard disk drive, you have a "C" partition and a "Q" partition. And, on your secondary drive, you have an "E" partition. On the "E" partition, you can redirect the specified directories to E:\SEQTMP.
  • If you use Windows Vista to sequence your application, and the application will be streamed to a App-V (SoftGrid) client computer that has User Access Control (UAC) turned on, UAC should turned on for the sequencing computer prior to the sequencing process.
  • Exit the Windows Defender service and any other antivirus or malicious software (malware) protection software to improve system performance during the sequencing process.

Frequently asked questions

What do I do if an application must install to drive C?

To simplify the Sequencing process, we recommend that you use the same drive for the Installation directory, for the Asset directory, and for the App-V (SoftGrid) client mount. By default, App-V (SoftGrid) labels the drive "Drive Q." Because certain applications must be installed on drive C or because some application must be run from drive C, App-V (SoftGrid) Sequencer accommodates this requirement. In this case, do not give the Asset directory the same name as the Installation directory. We do not recommend that you sequence to drive C for the following reasons:
  • Depending on how the sequencing is performed, the process may introduce small App-V (SoftGrid) overhead or a significant App-V (SoftGrid) overhead.
  • The specific drive letter, "C", must be present on the App-V (SoftGrid) client.
To accommodate this situation, specify a directory on drive C for the Installation directory during the sequencing process. Then, specify a directory on drive Q to use as the Asset directory. This causes the whole application to be run on the App-V (SoftGrid) Virtual File System. Do not modify the FILENAME attribute to point to drive C. The executable file that is specified in this attribute must point to drive Q.

What do I do if I have to sequence an MMC snap-in or an Internet Explorer plug-in?

Note Examples of Internet Explorer plug-ins include different versions of Java runtimes, different versions of ActiveX components, different versions of Flash runtimes, and different versions of Shockwave runtimes.

Even though you cannot sequence core operating system components such as Windows Internet Explorer, you can create multiple virtual environments for each of these applications. Make sure that you do not install these applications during the sequencing process. Instead, refer to the local copy of the application. This causes the local application to be pulled into a virtual environment that includes the desired version of the plug-in that was sequenced. The correct versions of the core operating system components on the App-V (SoftGrid) clients must match the versions on App-V (SoftGrid) Sequencer.

To create the sequence, follow these steps:
  1. Create an empty folder on drive Q.
  2. Point to this folder when App-V (SoftGrid) Sequencer asks where the application was installed during the installation phase. 
  3. Install the plug-in to this location on drive Q during the installation phase.
  4. During the execution phase, test the application by using local shortcuts. Then, save the sequence.
  5. Modify the .osd file to point to the local core operating system executable file by using appropriate parameters.

    For example, if you are sequencing an Internet Explorer plug-in, use the following parameters:
    FILENAME="%CSIDL_PROGRAM_FILES%\Internet Explorer\IExplore.exe"
    If you are sequencing an MMC snap in, use the following parameters:
    FILENAME="%CSIDL_SYSTEM%\MMC.EXE"
    PARAMETERS="%SFT_MNT%\Asset directory name\path to an .msc file"

Why should I sequence an application to a root folder that has a unique name of eight characters or less?

You must use a globally unique name because each application is mounted on drive Q as "Q:\Asset folder name." We recommend that you use eight characters or less to make sure that the short path names of the files are correctly preserved on the client. Certain operating system components require short names. For example, when Microsoft Office XP is installed on the App-V (SoftGrid) Sequencer computer, it is assigned the short path name of "Micros~1". When Microsoft Office 2000 is installed on the App-V (SoftGrid) Sequencer computer, after the computer has been hosted to the original state, it is assigned the short path name of "Micros~1".

If Microsoft Office XP is streamed to a fresh client, it is given the short path name of "Micros~1". If Microsoft Office 2000 is then streamed to the same client, it is given the short path name of "Micros~2". This causes the application to fail because non-parsed registry keys point to "Micros~1".

If you hardcode two applications to Q:\Office, and then you try to stream the second version of Office when the first version of Office is already streamed, the App-V (SoftGrid) client will be unable to correctly mount the second version of Office on the drive Q.

Can I sequence an application on one operating system and then stream it to another operating system?

Yes, App-V (SoftGrid) lets you sequence on one operating system and then stream it to another operating system. However, the application may not work correctly if it detects the operating system version when the application is installed. The application may select different components depending on that detection. This may cause problems depending on the component compatibility with other operating systems. Before you try to stream an application to another operating system, determine whether additional sequencings are required for each operating system. You may have to contact the application vendor.

What are the current limitations of the Save-As feature?

The current version of the App-V (SoftGrid) Sequencer Save-As feature requires that the package root directory, the asset directory, be changed as part of the process. This can cause applications that have hard-coded paths or that have some forms of copy protection to fail after a Save-As operation. To work around this problem, resequence the application without using the Save-As feature.

The third-party products that this article discusses are manufactured by companies that are independent of Microsoft. Microsoft makes no warranty, implied or otherwise, about the performance or reliability of these products.

Properties

Article ID: 932137 - Last Review: October 13, 2010 - Revision: 5.1
APPLIES TO
  • Microsoft Application Virtualization for Terminal Services
  • Microsoft Application Virtualization for Windows Desktops
  • Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.6 for Terminal Services
  • Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.6 for Windows Desktops
  • Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.5 for Terminal Services
  • Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.5 for Windows Desktops
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