Presenting the VEToolkit

From the RES Community Hero dept. My good friend Iain Brighton over at Virtual Engine in the UK has for quite some time offered a pretty amazing toolkit which will help you in your daily work with RES Workspace Manager. It’s about time I gave it a proper review. The VEToolkit is to the RES Workspace Manager what Robin is to Batman! It’s a great sidekick as it picks up where WM leaves off by offering multiple functions, which are all triggered by the green button in the lower right of the app.

This application is in continued development (beta 3) at the time of writing. In this article I’ll give you a detailed introduction to it’s capabilities along with usecases and show you where to download. I should probably also mention the VEToolkit is free! Interested?

BuildingBlock Spinner – This feature helps move buildingblocks between test and production environments. As you may know, buildingblocks are configuration exports from within RES products. Let’s say you have two domains; TEST and PRODUCTION. You have created some applications which in your test environment, assigned to groups in that domain. When you export building blocks of said apps, the access control info (i.e. domain+groupnames) will be exported as well. This means you would either have to manually edit the apps, or search and replace the TEST domain name with PRODUCTION. This is exactly what the spinner does. On top of this it can use the domain names as prefix and you can chose if you want to save the resulting changes in multiple or just one merged buildingblock.

POL Converter – This most excellent feature helps you grab the live user policies of any production system and convert them into registry settings, which you in turn can import into RES Workspace Manager. This effectively will speed up getting rid of existing AD based user policies in a RES WM managed environment. This way you don’t have to go back and enumerate the policies via the templates loaded into AD and build them manually into Workspace Manager. Using this feature is easy: Simply run the toolkit on your DC and point the policy converter to your C:\WINDOWS\SYSVOL\sysvol\<your domain>\Policies\ and look for the .POL files to convert. The resulting regfile will be placed where you specify it.

ADM(x) Template Merger – This is useful if you have several NT policy templates which you always need to use together anyway. The way the RES Workspace Manager handles .ADM(x) files is that it will import them into the WM Datastore so you don’t have to worry about distribution. When using the settings from the policy admin templates, you can however only edit one at a time. Using the merge functionality in VEToolkit you can combine the ADM(x) files which you need to have in one tree inside the Workspace Manager policy editor. There are two separate tabs as you can’t mix .ADM and .ADMX files as they have different formats.

GUID Locator – One of the powerful features of the RES Workspace Manager is the ability to set many configuration settings to Run-Once. This allows you to apply settings to users on a voluntary basis, such as “We think your Terminal Emulator app should use Courier as the default font – but if you hate it, you are allowed to change it.” When a Run-Once setting is applied to a user, a check/semaphore file is created in the users RES homedrive under <X:>\pwrmenu. The file will have the format of: <GUID>_<TYPE>.once. The file content itself is just a clear text time-stamp. The GUID will be generated when the RES object (registry setting, etc) is created.

The challenge with the Run-Once feature, is resetting it on a per-user basis. I covered this process a year ago in article RG020. It’s very easy if you know what .once file to delete, but mapping the right setting to the right GUID can be quite time consuming as the article illustrates. Again the VEtoolkit to the rescue! Using the GUID Locator, finding these is a snap. Just point the tool to C:\Program Files\RES Software\Workspace Manager\Data\DBCache\Objects and the GUID’s along with the name+description of the config items will be displayed. Note: It seems currently the name field is blank at the moment, but I’ve let Iain know about it. The resulting output looks like this:

Once you have the GUID of the .once file you need to delete, you could use it create a Managed App which reset an application to “factory settings” by deleting the .once file. This is useful if you’re not currently employing the User Settings feature of Workspace Manager, or if you in addition to the Restore User-Settings wizard want to provide a way to reset an app all the way, where initial Configuration actions on the app are re-applied.

With this article, I hope to have peaked your interest in the VEToolkit. Only thing remaining is where to download. You can pick it up at Virtual Engine’s site. Registration is required. It’s well worth your time though, so go have a look.


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