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How to create web based portable applications

(DISCLAIMER: Following article is for information purposes only.)

(You can also download a PDF version of this tutorial.)

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Web based portable applications are applications which can run directly from internet without the need of any installation procedures or administrator privileges. (It’s Application streaming actually! Google it for finding out the technical details)

Now if you have already read my following two previous posts you must have got an idea of what I am going to cover in this tutorial. If you have not read those, I recommend you to please take some time and have a look at ‘em.

Okay, let us begin now…

What all you will need? (These is not prerequisites and you can also directly jump to the steps)

  • Clean PC – Clean Virtual Machine (No software installed)

A good tutorial with screenshots is available at Geek to Live: Run Windows XP inside Vista with Virtual PC http://lifehacker.com/238071/geek-to-live--run-windows-xp-inside-vista-with-virtual-pc

STEP 1. Install Spoon Plug-in

Go to http://spoon.net/Start/?a=SpoonAppStudio , if your machine does not have plug-in installed you’ll notice the image there saying install the plug-in. (Do not worry this plug-in installs without admin rights.)

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Click on Install Plugin, a download window will appear, click on save to save this file on your machine. (File size is ~ 2.72 Mb). After download is finished, run the downloaded file by double clicking on it and the Spoon Plug-in gets installed automatically.

(NOTE: If you are using Firefox you may get a warning that browser needs to get restarted in order to finish the plug-in installation, Click Ok to restart your browser)

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STEP 2. Spoon Application Studio

Once you are done with the Plug-in installation, go to http://spoon.net/Start/?a=SpoonAppStudio . Now click the Start button to start the application.

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STEP 3. Using Spoon Application Studio for creating Portable Applications

If you want to get a detailed description please download the Spoon Application Studio Guide (PDF Version) http://www.spoon.net/AppStudio/Spoon%20App%20Studio%20User%20Guide.pdf or have a look at its online version. http://www.spoon.net/AppStudio/Docs/webframe.html

After the buffering is complete the App manager will load and gets open in a new window

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In the wizard click “Virtualize a third party component” you will get to the next step that is Capturing the before snapshot. Read the instructions if you want to then click Next button to begin the capturing process.

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After you click the Next button, Capturing process starts. It takes a while around 5-7 minutes to complete this “before” snapshot. Following is the progress window shown when this process is going on.

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After the ‘Before Snapshot’ is complete, minimize the Spoon Application Manager window and proceed with the installation of the application you want to virtualize. Here in this case let us take example of ‘Rocket Dock’ which a windows application providing dock like Apple Mac for Windows Operating Systems.

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Proceed with the normal installation procedure, as you do for any application.

After finishing the installation, maximize the Spoon Application Manager’s window and Click Next.

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Clicking ‘Next’ will trigger the ‘After Snapshot’ capture process. It will once again give you the progress window as show below.

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After the ‘After Snapshot’ capture process gets finished, you will be presented with ‘Select Startup file’ dialogue box. Here in this step all you have to do is select the executable file which is the entry point for your program. In simple words it the exe file which runs when you double click on application icon.

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As mentioned in the above mentioned window, just select the ‘Exe’ of the application you just installed. (You can also select multiple files by pressing Ctrl key).

You will then be presented by ‘Select Output file’ dialogue box, Click next and select a folder to save the output file. The output file is nothing but the Configuration settings made by the Spoon Applications Manager.

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Give the name you want to give for your program and Click Save.

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Finally you’ll be presented with the last configuration dialogue box.

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Uncheck the checkmark in ‘Run the Virtual Application now’ and click Finish. This will save the virtual application configuration and build the virtual application for you. A new window will open showing the progress, as shown below.

Once this is finished, Click ‘ok’ to complete the process and now your Virtual Application is ready to be published.

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STEP 4. Publishing the Virtual Application

In this step, I will talk about how to publish your virtual applications online and post it on your blog or website, so that anyone can access and use those applications.

After you click Finish in the earlier step, you’ll be on the main page of Spoon Application Manager Studio. Here click on the rightmost button, which is ‘Publish to web’.

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You’ll be presented with the spoon login dialogue.

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Enter you ID and Password in this and hit ‘Ok’.

You’ll then get to the following window

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In this window, you can enter information about your program, such as name of the application, its version, domain, description etc. Since we already build the virtual application, there is no need to check Rebuild App option, just directly click ‘Publish’ button.

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As soon as you hit publish, file upload dialogue box opens. What this will do is take the application data from your machine and upload it to Spoon’s Server Space. It will take time depending upon the size of your program and the connection speed. But it’s worth waiting you know. :)

Once the application gets uploaded you’ll get the following screen.

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Click ‘Manage’ which will open your browser with Spoon’s login page.

STEP 5. Making Application available over internet for free!

As soon as you click Manage the following page opens.

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Type in your credentials and click ‘Continue’.

This will open you published application page, which contains list of applications you have created and published using Spoon, if this is your first application you’ll only get only one in the list. It will look like the following

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Click on the Application Name, which will open the application details page.

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Scroll to the bottom of this page and you’ll see Applications HTML code and other details about your application.

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Now click on the Profile button. (Actually profiling is running your applications couple of times in order to construct its model of your application)

You will get to page which looks like other hosted applications already hosted on Spoon.

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Wow, your application is available with Start button, just like other applications available on Spoon’s website. Click on the Start button and application buffers and starts.

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(UPDATE: The People from Spoon read this entry and fixed their code, so the following workaround does not work anymore. I am working on some other workaround and will update it once I find it. Please leave a comment if you want to help me with this)

However you can still create Virtual Applications as presented above and can use anywhere in the world by Logging into Spoon with your ID.

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STEP 6. Publishing these applications on your blog or Website

You were required to enter your username and password to run this application, and the HTML code provide by the website does not work because you have not paid anything to Spoon. So, how to actually make your applications available over internet?

Now, here comes the fun part. Let us see a workaround which allows us to publish these applications to our sites and blogs…

Login to Spoon, Select the application you want to publish, Click on its name which will open the applications details page, scroll to the bottom and click on the ‘Profile’ button. (Please look at the screenshots of the above steps)

Now on the Application page (The one with Start button on it)

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Click ‘View’ in the browser menu bar and select ‘Page Source’ in Firefox and Page -> View Source in Internet Explorer 8.

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Just look at the source code and find code that looks like the following

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Copy this code! This is the actual code that you require. Now using this code you can share your application with the world.

Simply use this JavaScript code wherever you wish to publish your application, and all this without spending a dime!

Have fun Experiencing the Power!

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