Frontline Chatter Podcast

 

First, let me summarize what’s on the Podcast and where you can listen to it. Then I’ll ramble on a bit about what an honor it was to be on the Podcast, what great guys the hosts are and a little tale about how I proposed to my then girlfriend shortly after recording this. You guys can read it if you want. Most importantly, however, You can follow and listen to the Podcast here:

FrontLine Chatter Podcast

We talk about Unidesk, AppVolumes, A little about App-V and other application virtualization technologies. It was a fun conversation and I can’t wait to get back on again! I also can’t wait to hear from the next guest. Kees Baggerman! This could be an incredible platform for us Tech bloggers to spew the kind of bullshit, only other techies can understand and tolerate ūüôā

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Spoon.net – Docker for Windows

I’ve posted several times about Spoon in the last few years. They are a startup based out of Seattle, Washington. Something I have stated about Spoon during some of my presentations is the fact that they are constantly innovating and bringing more value to their existing products, as well as creating new exciting products that make us Techie types foam at the mouth. Well, they’ve done it again. If you attended any of my presentations over the last year in which I talked about Spoon and you subsequently went out and got your own Spoon account, you may have noticed that Spoon.net has changed. That’s because the Spoon Application Library and Cloud Storage features are now on Turbo.net. For more about Turbo.net and some of my previous posts about Spoons Application Virtualization offering, check out some of my previous posts HERE

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Turbo.net

Spoon.net still exists but is very different!

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New Spoon.net

You can see that the ‘new’ Spoon.net features some different applications\platforms and some new options like Hub. It’s much more of a developers platform than a users portal. What are we even talking about here?

Spoon enables you to package your application into an isolated virtual environment, often referred to as a container. These containers are portable, no client is required to run them. Meaning you can take the application and run it from any Windows machine.

Spoon.net is the home to the latest Spoon initiative. In many ways, Spoon has not changed the product that much from the product some of us may know and love, in fact you can still purchase the Spoon Studio and Spoon Server tools. But there are some significant changes, Most importantly is the HOW involved with creating the ‘containers’.

Docker is now hugely popular. Personally, I took a look at Docker a few months ago just to see what it was all about. As somebody, who is pretty heavily invested in App-V, my immediate thought was that Microsoft really needed to get something similar developed around App-V or possibly even a separate product. Docker is basically a platform that allows developers to easily create their own isolated application containers for their applications and host them in a portal to share with colleagues. A Portal like GitHub. Providing an excellent platform for Dev Testing. It’s pretty awesome BUT it’s Linux based, so that may be limiting it’s appeal a little bit. It allows the ability to inject some of the Linux Kernel components in with the isolated application, ensuring they are completely isolated and run purely within the container. Maintaining the integrity of any testing systems being used. All well and good but what about those of us who spend their work days in the Windows trenches? Spoon.net is the answer!

So what does that mean to those of us working on the Windows platform with Spoon? It means we can provide developers with the Spoon Plugin, which they can use to easily package\containerize the applications they are working on. Simply by running some commands from the command line. There’s no need to learn how to use a packaging tool or any of the theory or terminologies that come with it. If you can install your application and use the command line, you can create a container.

What are some of the benefits for isolating your virtual applications with Spoon, why even bother? By isolating your applications, you ensure you keep your testing machine in a pristine state. When you have multiple applications that are isolated, you ensure they can run side by side without any conflicts, for example a conflict due to requiring a different version of a shared DLL. How about this, you have some applications you’ve created that require the latest and greatest…or not so greatest version of Java, you also have some legacy applications that you’ve inherited that require an old version of Java. You can containerize Java and use the specific version you desire for any application. Ensuring they can work side by side on a given machine. This is not possible with a¬†traditional install.

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Spoon Browser Studio

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.

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