A few weeks ago I had a twitter conversation with Jurjen Van Leeuwen (featured in my Blogroll) that was the catalyst for this blog post, we’re both Microsoft MVP’s for App-V, we both contribute to the Application Virtualization Smackdown Whitepaper and We both also have something else in common, we’re both fans of Spoon.net! Jurjen and I tweeted each other about Spoon’s Browser Studio and how impressive it is. The power of being able to spin up any Browser with all of your Runtimes and Extensions in under five minutes is pretty damn cool. The fact, I’ve now stopped sequencing my browsers with App-V for personal use is also pretty damn cool to me. It was just too much effort to keep up with Google and Mozillas ridiculous release schedules. I’ll be damned if I spin up a VM and go through that effort every few weeks, I’ll also be damned if I download and install the damn things. That’s why Browser Studio is now my primary source for my browsers of choice.
Jurjen actually turned me onto Spoon during a call we had over two years ago, discussing the different Application Virtualization technologies on the market, he insisted that I should check out Spoon. So I did and I was very impressed! After a few months I got a trial of Spoon Server and Spoon Studio and I was again, very impressed, I even wrote a blog post about it. Which you can find HERE The gang over at Spoon have been busy. They have multiple innovative new products. One of which is Browser Studio, the topic of this post.
Browser Studio is a sleek web based wizard which allows you to create virtual application container of browsers (Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer) customized to your liking. You can pick what runtimes to include e.g. Java and Flash Player, what extensions to include e.g. Adblocker, You can also give it a unique name as you may have multiple instances of the same Browser…Multiple instances you say? This bad boy allows you to build any version of these Browsers going back to version 2.0 for Firefox, the dreaded version 6.0 of IE and version 16.0 of Chrome (at the time of this posting). This product is the perfect solution for Web Developers who require a controlled pristine browser for testing purposes and multiple versions to boot! No need to spin up multiple virtual machines which is expensive and a pain in the ass to manage. The browsers you create with Browser Studio are virtual application containers. They are isolated and can operate side by side without conflicting. They can all be run from your own desktop. Sweeeeeet!
Why would you want to use Browser Studio?
I’ve already talked a little bit about why I personally use Browser Studio. Working in the virtualization space, I have been trying to get as many of my applications virtualized as possible. I have many apps sequenced with App-V but I struggle to find the time to keep on top of things. With Spoons great service Spoon.net I could instantly access many applications which I use every day like Skype, Evernote and Spotify to name a few. These applications don’t need to be installed, they are virtual applications using Spoons container based technology. And those are great!
Of course with my browsers I need more, I need runtimes like Flash Player to play my YouTube Videos, Java for viewing some of my favorite sites, .Net, Adobe Reader etc. When using Chrome and Firefox there’s also multiple extensions\add-ins that I use like AdBlocker. In traditional packaging or virtualizing, I would need to either create separate packages for each and link them together before deploying or I could create one big virtual package with everything I want. This is a painful way of working, as each one of these components get’s updated quite regularly and in turn requires manual effort to ensure the update is rolled out. With Browser Studio, I get what I want in under five minutes.
But this isn’t just for people like me who use it for their day to day browsing. It also has the massive benefits for Web Developers that I already mentioned. As an anecdote, I personally would have found this very useful for a former client who had a social media marketing team who operated inside their own controlled virtual desktops for updating the various outlets, as well as testing any changes in multiple browsers.
For a Demo, Check out my tutorial video right here, or if you’d prefer, feel free to continue reading for a detailed step by step description and more information.
Browser Studio Demo from Rory Monaghan on Vimeo.