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About Them GUIDs

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Posted: 4 May 1999
 

Not to be confused with a marine cephalopod mollusk (a squid, that is), the GUID (for Globally Unique Identification) plays a central role in Application Launcher's software distribution process. When Application Launcher distributes an application to a workstation, it stamps the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE Registry hive with a special, randomly generated number. This is how it keeps tabs on that application on that machine.

Here's a sample Application object GUID: {5A0511440-77C5-11D1-A663-00A024264C3E}. Remember, they are randomly generated. Chances are you'll never have to manually enter in one of these. You can use GUIDs to track and troubleshoot distributed applications. Suppose, for example, if you want to ensure that a particular application has been distributed to a workstation, you can compare the GUID as recorded in the Application object's Distribution property page with the GUID that is currently stamped in the workstation's Registry. You can find Application object GUIDs in the Windows Registry by browsing to

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE
\SOFTWARE
\NetWare
\NAL
\1.0
\Distribute
\<treename>

Click the GUID to see the Application object's Distinguished Name (DN) among the Registry values. Note that GUIDs can be stamped on a "per workstation user" basis. See "Track Distribution Per Workstation User" in online Help for a lengthy description of how this works, particularly with roaming profiles.

Using Version Stamp to Trigger Redistribution
The Version Stamp (found on the Distribution property page) is simply text string representing the version of the application which is used to the customize the Application object's GUID. In fact, any change you make to the Version Stamp is like changing the GUID.

The Version Stamp might or might not have anything to do with the actual version of the software. It's just a tool to help you upgrade applications. It lets you control the version of Application Launcher-delivered application.

For example, suppose you create an Application object and give it a Version Stamp of "1." You distribute this application and your users run it. Then you realize that you need to change several settings to the application, either as a result of re-importing an Application Object Template (.aot or .axt) file or changing settings on the Registry, .INI Files, Macro, Text Files or Icons/Shortcut property pages. By changing the Version Stamp text to a unique number (such as "2"), the changes go into effect the next time the application is run.

If the Run Once option (on the Identification property page) is checked and you change the Version Stamp, the Run Once option causes the application to run again once. This is useful when upgrading application software to a new or different version. For example, suppose you purchased new application software and want to update an Application object. By changing the Version Stamp number and selecting the Run Once option, the application runs once after installation even though a previous version might have already run once.

Need to Distribute a Suite of Applications?
If you distribute a lot of application suites then you'll like the Sync Distribution GUIDs option on the Tools > Application Launcher Tools menu. This option synchronizes the GUID for the Application objects that you select. In essence, it causes Application objects to share the same GUID.

Let's say you want to distribute a suite of applications including a word processor and spreadsheet. You run snAppShot to discover the installations of both but create two Application objects from the same snAppShot. One Application object installs the suite and runs the word processor. The other Application object installs the same suite and runs the spreadsheet. Once both applications are distributed to the workstation, you would synchronize their GUIDs. Now when users run either application, Application Launcher installs the suite only once and runs the desired application. Here's what you do:

  1. While holding down the Ctrl key, highlight the Application objects you want to share the same GUID.
  2. Choose Tools > Application Launcher Tools > Synchronize Distribution GUIDs.

If you want to un-link or un-synchronize the GUIDs for a set of Application objects, re-select them and choose Generate new GUIDs from the same menu. This re-randomizes the GUIDs so that they once again stand on their own.

Goodies in the Toolkit
The Z.E.N.works Application Management Toolkit offers two utilities to help you get your GUIDs straightened out.

The first is the GUIDSYNC, which does the same thing as the Sync Distribution GUID option on the Application Launcher Tools menu, only it is run from the command line for ease of administration.

The second utility, APPGUID, is a Snap-in component for NetWare Administrator 32. APPGUID.DLL requires the NetWare Administrator 32 that ships with Z.E.N.works. It is dependant on NWAPP32.DLL that comes with Z.E.N.works 1.0 or above. This utility makes it easier to synchronize GUIDs between Application objects. For example, you can select the Application object from a list that carries the GUID you want to propagate to all others in the list.


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