In the current SoftGrid implementation, there are three distinct methods of providing users with an updated version of an existing SoftGrid application. This article will review the three methods and the associated benefits and considerations. When discussing the different methods for updates, it is assumed that users are already running an existing version of the application, delivered through SoftGrid.
SoftGrid applications are stored with a unique GUID identifier that is embedded into the SFT file at the time of sequencing. This allows the SoftGrid server to manage applications independently of their filenames or content. On the SoftGrid client, the machine and user settings for each application are managed by the SFT GUID, allowing settings to be managed at the same level. This information forms the basis for the methods below.
Active Upgrade: The first application update method is called Active Upgrade. In this configuration, the existing package is copied down to a sequencer workstation. The package is then Opened for Package Upgrade, a function found in the sequencer. The sequencer will extract out the contents of the SFT file and restore the application to the end state from the last sequence. The sequencer user then simply restarts the Monitoring process in the sequencer, and once monitoring restarts, the user performs any updates to the application as necessary.
Simple file and registry changes can be made, along with more complex updates such as a package installer like a service pack. Once the application updates have been completed, the sequencer user stops monitoring and the sequencer will process all the updates. The Shortcut Wizard is then re-run, reconfirming that the application still works in SoftGrid. The package is then saved in the sequencer. The sequencer will recognize that this package is an update and append an underscore and an increment number to the SFT files (e.g., EXAMPLEAPP.SFT becomes EXAMPLEAPP_2.SFT). Once the sequencing is completed, all of the new package files are copied up to the content share. Next, the SoftGrid administrator adds a new Package version into the SoftGrid Management Console, referencing the new SFT file. Once that is complete, the new application is ready and available for all users who have permissions to the application. All new application launches will receive the updated application, and all existing users will still use the old version until they restart the application on their clients and receive the update.
The primary advantage of this method is that the upgrade is seamless to the end-users. The icon that represents the application on their client machines really represents a living application, always with the latest version. The user simply launches the application and they are presented with the most up-to-date version of the application. Since the application’s SFT is updated, the GUID stays the same, which means all machine and user settings are still associated with the applications are retained for users. Also, no desktop refresh is required for this update, as it’s done on the SFT file that is being launched by the users. The primary consideration for this method is that both the existing version and new version cannot be served to users simultaneously. The user will always get the latest version upon application launch. Also, once the update is made available on SoftGrid, it is available to all users provisioned to the application. There is no current method to provision the new version to specific users or AD groups.