I posted a blog about Cameyo 2.0 almost a year ago. It got a pretty positive response, I have since, also mentioned it on a recent webinar. A line I have used over and over in regards to Cameyo is that it’s a great tool for somebody to learn about Application Virtualization with, I always held back from completely endorsing it as an Enterprise ready product. Well, a lot has changed in the last year.
Firstly for those new to this. Cameyo is a tool which creates virtual applications that are portable. The tool allows you take a Windows application, perform a capture of the installation and create it into a virtual application. This virtual application will be a .exe. You can deploy this .exe to your users, make it available on a share or even just put it on a CD\DVD or USB key. Your users could even take their application away on a USB key and run them from say a hotels Windows Kiosk machine. Your users could also simply download and use apps from their Cameyo account on the website.
Just like with last year. Cameyo does offer a whole host of applications for free on their website https://www.cameyo.com you just register for an account and away you go. Also the principal of Cameyo remains the same, it enables you to create what I refer to as a portable virtual application, essentially you take your Windows application and do a capture of the installation, Cameyo then produces a .exe. Believe it or not, launching this .exe will launch the allow you to launch the application. Why is this amazing? It’s because you don’t need any installation any more, you’ve got this .exe file which you can run pretty much from anywhere, you can even capture all apps you need, drop them on a USB key and have everything you want on the go. You can also upload the applications to the Cameyo website, the apps will appear under ‘My Applications’ when you login. The number of application that you can upload is limited unless you purchase an enterprise license. The tool is still free for use for 50 or less users BUT there’s now many cool features which have been added and are exclusive to Enterprise users.
Of course as always, you can also download cameyo and create your own virtual applications
Like with all good capture tools, you’ll want to setup a Virtual Machine with snapshotting capabilities first, this is to ensure you can easily and quickly revert to a clean state in between each application you create\capture. It’s a good idea to ensure any services which may conflict are also disabled.
In terms of application setup for the capture, there is none. You simply download the Cameyo.exe from the Cameyo website.
Create a Virtual Application
Click Capture an installation and click OK
Cameyo will bring you the home screen with all various options e.g. Updates, Edit a Package etc.
Edit a package quite simply will allow you open a previously captured application in order to edit it.
You should notice a notification appear above the task bar indicating that an initial snapshot of the machine state is being taken
When complete that notification will now inform you to install whatever application you’d like to capture. Be it one standalone application, many inter-dependent applications etc. You can also notice that Cameyo does allow for the capture of installation reboots. Good job! So upon completing the installs and configurations for the apps you want to virtualize, simply click ‘Install done’
The notification will now show that a post-installation snapshot is being taken. Basically, the tool is comparing the machine state now, with the machine state from the initial snapshot, whatever has changed is assumed to be belonging to the application you wish to virtualize and so this is what’s included in your virtual package. NOTE: This is why it’s a good idea to disable Windows Updates and any other service which may interfere, you don’t want unwanted files or registry changes from these services included in your package.
Your package should now be completed successfully. You can click OK to close out or hit Edit Package to take a look under the hood and possibly make further changes.
Interestingly you can now see you have the option to select whether the application runs from the local disk or now, the option to run from RAM. This means no need to leave any footprint on the machine, making this a very attractive option for VDI and Cloud environments. The virtual applications also run quite quickly.
Isolation mode sets the level of interaction your virtual application is allowed during run time with the system. You can ensure the virtual application is completely isolated and so cannot write to local machine, which is great for a virtualization platform, you do this by using Isolated. Similarly the Data mode can work quite well, this only allows certain user run time locations such as Desktop, Documents and shares. Full Access allows the virtual application to write anywhere it pleases.
Startup allows you to set entry points for the application. With Cameyo your output is a single .exe file. When you launch this file you get a prompt for which application to run. If your application contains maybe multiple inter-dependent applications or even one application with multiple shortcuts, you’ll want to ensure these are set here. I will show a screenshot of how this looks in the testing section further down.
You can also change the Vendor, Application, Version and .Exe’s ICON file, as you wish.
You can change the data storage for the run time Sandbox to hard disk, USB, Dropbox. In the same directory as the executable or a custom directory.
Within the Cameyo Advanced Settings you can see that you can get even more granular with how the virtual application functions. You can set the level of integration the application is allowed with the local OS. Can it interact with Windows Explorer for things like shell extensions? Can it re-create it’s shortcuts and file type associations (what I find cool about this option in Cameyo is that the shortcuts are dynamic so if a user moves the single .exe file, the shortcut will change on the fly like Magic!) and finally No integration allowed at all, which maybe you want to keep all of your apps more independent.
You can how the app behaves on exiting. This again is great for a VDI world but also for a portable world. If you use your app on say a Kiosk or in an Internet Cafe or something, maybe you want to be sure that your user sandbox or nothing else is left behind. Well, you can set that here.
You can also set to exclude certain child processes. This is good incase you capture something which is inadvertently running on the capture machine or even is intentionally running as pre-requisite for the app but you know the app will be locally on the machine, you can exclude it to ensure it runs locally and not as part of the virtual environment.
Finally you can save a separate .DAT file which will live with .EXE if the app is larger than 2GB, from what I understand from VMWares explanation in regards to ThinApp (which has the same option) this is due to issues in regards to shortcuts and end user experience with larger applications. It’s a good idea to have the .DAT file in these exception cases.
When ready you can go ahead and save your application.
Your virtual application is ready for use.
Create a virtual application with the Online Packager
You don’t have to capture every installation if you don’t want. Maybe you only want to capture a few applications for personal use or maybe you need to capture something quick and need it on the go. Well, you can do this via the Online Packager on the Cameyo website.
You can see the tool requires that the application not require connectivity during the installation and it must have a silent installation, this is because the Cameyo automated tool needs to carry out the install for the capture, if it’s not silent then it requires manual intervention which automation cannot handle. You set your platform baseline e.g. 32-bit Windows XP and simply browse to your installer. Interestingly, which I haven’t tried yet, there’s now an option to simply point to the location of the installer on a vendors website or some other site. Pretty cool. When ready just click submit.
The wheels are now set in motion.
And just like that, without any intervention needed on your part. A virtual application has been created! You can click to download or alternatively the e-mail address you sign in to the site with, will also have the e-mail notification with a link to download.
You can also see your application now appear under My Apps.
Launch the .exe, you’ll see if you had more than one application, you’ll be able to select which one to open. The application will then open and run as configured. It’s as simple as that!
Like I said at the top, quite a bit has changed which makes Cameyo a much more viable option for the Enterprise. Something which was added to the tool is the new Blueprint option which allows you to create templates for performing your captures, templates ensure a higher rate of success and can aide when capturing the more complex of applications. Once you’ve captured a troublesome app successfully, you can save the blueprint to use for future versions.
The text file contains a lot of configurable templates settings.
The tool now supports a larger range of languages!
Fonts can now successfully be virtualized using Cameyo. With the Enterprise version you can enable a very granular level of custom scripting e.g. running a vbscript at a certain event (launch of the application) to perform a required task (possibly set a registry key) Also with the enterprise version, you have a simple means for automating the packaging in your own environment, without the need for using the nifty online packager by using a command line driven XML based package editor. Also with the Enterprise version you have the option to split out the user settings from the applications binaries.
Something which I have not tried yet but am aware of is the possibility to use a third party tool called ASG to centrally manage your Cameyo created virtual application which should ensure Cameyo gets a much more wider audience!
I still love Cameyo as a means for creating my own portable applications for personal use. Sticking them on a USB key or portable hard drive. Cameyo is really making strides to get further into the Enterprise space, with Cameyo you can enable your users to use the Online Packager and empower them to use their own applications. They don’t even need to download the app in some cases! Just input the link. But the bigger win for Cameyo now is the ability to centrally manage the apps with ASG, Cameyo itself has great features which benefit a cloud and VDI environment but management is where it has possibly fallen short in the past. Well, not anymore with the advent of ASG. You now have a means to centrally manage your user applications. My only annoyance when using Cameyo is that when you open an existing package to edit. The Icon you set disappears, it’s a little nuisance which appeared in the previous release also, it’s not a biggy but it’s good to be aware that you may want to use an Icon extractor and keep a copy of your icons, at least until there’s a fix. Overall, I am very impressed with Cameyo and the progress in the last year. I’m excited to see what else is in the works!