Finally a launcher for all portable programs?

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webfork
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Re: Finally a launcher for all portable programs?

#46 Post by webfork » Mon Apr 27, 2015 4:55 pm

UGMFree wrote:If PAF was an open standard it should be possible to install it silently but this feature has been removed a long time ago.
I can't help but think you're confusing "open" with merely inconvenient to your current goals.
UGMFree wrote:PAF format is yours but no one can say that your format is an open format.
Their format is an open format because:
  • The code is open and GPL'd
  • There's guides out there on how to do it yourself and there's over 100 example programs to draw from
  • You could easily take the code and fork it in a totally different direction including but not limited to getting a silent install process
More to the point, there's a program that does silent installs without modifying code: Portable Update.
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Re: Finally a launcher for all portable programs?

#47 Post by UGMFree » Tue Apr 28, 2015 5:43 am

Hi webfork.
webfork wrote:
UGMFree wrote:If PAF was an open standard it should be possible to install it silently but this feature has been removed a long time ago.
I can't help but think you're confusing "open" with merely inconvenient to your current goals.
UGMFree wrote:PAF format is yours but no one can say that your format is an open format.
Their format is an open format because:
  • The code is open and GPL'd
  • There's guides out there on how to do it yourself and there's over 100 example programs to draw from
  • You could easily take the code and fork it in a totally different direction including but not limited to getting a silent install process
More to the point, there's a program that does silent installs without modifying code: Portable Update.
You are right.

My misuse of the term "open" is dangerours and inappropriate and I apologize for this.

Naturally I didn't intend that their source code is closed but that their implementation produces closed installers. In fact they partially closed "the use" of the PAF format, not the related source code.

Here's the evidence: if a program different from "PortableAppsPlatform.exe" or located in a different folder than "PortableApps.com" or having a product name not like "PortableApps.com Platform" or with a company name different than "PortableApps.com" tries to launch any PAF installer, it is forbid to start the installation in silent mode.

Code: Select all

[...]
;=== Check that it exists at the right location
		DetailPrint '$(checkforplatform)'

		${If} ${FileExists} `$0\PortableApps.com\PortableAppsPlatform.exe`
			;=== Check that it's the real deal
			MoreInfo::GetProductName `$0\PortableApps.com\PortableAppsPlatform.exe`
			Pop $1
			${If} $1 == "PortableApps.com Platform"
				MoreInfo::GetCompanyName `$0\PortableApps.com\PortableAppsPlatform.exe`
				Pop $1
				${If} $1 == "PortableApps.com"
					;=== Check that it's running
					FindProcDLL::FindProc "PortableAppsPlatform.exe"
					${If} $R0 == 1
						;=== Do a partially automated install
						StrCpy $AUTOMATEDINSTALL "true"
[...]
From PortableApps.com platform source code: http://code.openhub.net/file?fid=-nKtN0 ... ed=true#L0

Every check you see in the code could be easily workarounded but, at my place, this is called cheat and I'm not that kind of person.
My SyMenu PAF implementation doesn't workaround any check but crudely unpacks the PAF file, it is a simple 7zipped archive, and tries to rebuild the file structure by hand. Crazy enough... but this is a perfectly legal reverse engineering activity.

You are right, the code could be easily forked but every PAF available on the Internet continues to be compiled with the PortableApps installer version and not the forked one so the silent install will remain for exclusive use of the PortableApps platform.

A final consideration that is also an open question for all the TPFC audience.
If all the programs packed with a PAF installer are a community asset, is it right that a unique single launcher could use them in an integrated mode?

What do you think about this?

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Re: Finally a launcher for all portable programs?

#48 Post by Midas » Wed Apr 29, 2015 3:22 am

UGMFree wrote:A final consideration that is also an open question for all the TPFC audience.
If all the programs packed with a PAF installer are a community asset, is it right that a unique single launcher could use them in an integrated mode?

What do you think about this?
  • For me, yet another of the many niggles (you could call them 'papercuts') that keep me from a wider use of PAFed programs... :?

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Re: Finally a launcher for all portable programs?

#49 Post by webfork » Sun May 03, 2015 4:41 pm

UGMFree wrote:If all the programs packed with a PAF installer are a community asset, is it right that a unique single launcher could use them in an integrated mode?
This is related to a larger issue in open source referred to as "the tragedy of the commons" meaning that if you have a community property, there's no sense of ownership. As such, I'm okay with open projects like theirs having a tether to a "home" or launcher program. In other words, they're allowed a certain level of self-promotion.

Keep in mind that you're welcome to start up http://www.MobileFreeware.com with almost all the PortableApps.com software and modify it however you want. All you have to do is remove the trademarked material, but that's something the GPL enables. As such, it's definitely a community asset and is (hopefully) going to live on long after it's creators move on to other things.
UGMFree wrote:Every check you see in the code could be easily workarounded but, at my place, this is called cheat and I'm not that kind of person.
Actually the GPL is there to enable that kind of freedom. The genesis of the license came from getting around dumb restrictions (at the MIT Media Lab once upon a time). It's far from a cheat.
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Re: Finally a launcher for all portable programs?

#50 Post by UGMFree » Mon May 11, 2015 12:04 am

:) We definitely have different thoughts.
webfork wrote:As such, I'm okay with open projects like theirs having a tether to a "home" or launcher program. In other words, they're allowed a certain level of self-promotion.
Self-promotion shouldn't be closure.
Self-promotion is when you open a program and see a splash screen with the PortableApps credits.
Anyway they are very clear asserting that every program packed with their installer has an automatic integration only with the PortableApps launcher. So if the program owner accepts this limitation, or the license is compatible with that... everything is alright.
webfork wrote:Keep in mind that you're welcome to start up http://www.MobileFreeware.com with almost all the PortableApps.com software and modify it however you want. All you have to do is remove the trademarked material, but that's something the GPL enables. As such, it's definitely a community asset and is (hopefully) going to live on long after it's creators move on to other things.
(...)
Actually the GPL is there to enable that kind of freedom. The genesis of the license came from getting around dumb restrictions (at the MIT Media Lab once upon a time). It's far from a cheat.
This PortableApps case is strange because we can't use the normal meter to evaluate the phenomenon.
I risk to repeat myself but the real assets here is not their applications source code but all the PAF programs packed with their installer.
So me or another person could take the installer source code and change it or whatever, but the programs packed with the PAF installer continue to be packed with the official branch and for that reason continue to refuse to integrate with any other launcher.
To understand better the problem if, ironically, I ask to John T. Haller to modify the official branch and open up to other launchers and he accepts, anyway we have tons of programs packed with the old installer version that won't work with no other launcher than PortableApps.com until the new release of every single program.

And, sorry for this, but pretending to be another program owned by another company, it's cheating regardless for the license.

Anyway... this thread should speak about the SPS and not the PortableApps thing... (I never thought I'd became a moderator of myself :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: )

For all the people that are not using SyMenu I tell that a new SPS Builder version has been released so, please download it.

In the meanwhile the SPS program suite has grown again.

SyMenu suite: 166 programs
NirSoft suite: 251 programs
Sysinternals suite: 57 programs

Grand total: 474 programs...
yes we are very close to 500!

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Re: Finally a launcher for all portable programs?

#51 Post by sl23 » Sun May 24, 2015 3:13 am

I'm still none the wiser as to how this works! Are you saying that an app won't show updates unless you have a new SPS file for that app that tells SyMenu there's an update?

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Re: Finally a launcher for all portable programs?

#52 Post by UGMFree » Sun May 24, 2015 10:49 pm

sl23 wrote:I'm still none the wiser as to how this works! Are you saying that an app won't show updates unless you have a new SPS file for that app that tells SyMenu there's an update?
Exactly.
If an app has not a built in updating system and it is outdated, it works the same but it doesn't know if itself is updated and for that it can't alert you that there is a new version available.
Let's analyze this case with a real example and all will become clearer.

When you start SyMenu for the first time and go to the SPS Manager, SyMenu has no app to show you. That is because it hasn't downloaded any SPS file yet. You see that SyMenu is very closely related to the availability of the SPS files.
Now in the SPS Manager you have a button (Get apps online) to download all the available SPS files from the UGMFree.it web site that is the SyMenu SPS source. Only when SyMenu downloads SPS files it can show you the available apps.
Among these apps you are interested in particular in Irfanview that is a picture viewer available on the SPS SyMenu suite.
You choose it and SyMenu, through the instruction contained into the Irfanview SPS file, downloads and installs the program.
Now you have a certain version of Irfanview available in your system and linked to your SyMenu.

At a certain time a new Irfanview version is released.
Irfanview doesn't have a custom update checker, but only a primitive online check, and it can't update itself at all. You have to manually check and manually download the new version and manually install it over the old one and manually preserve your custom settings.
At this point the editor of the Irfanview SPS, in this case it's me, produces a new SPS that describes the new Irfanview version. The new SPS is published on the UGMFree.it web site through the SPS Builder.

The SyMenu users should regularly check with the button Get apps online if there are new/updated SPS files. Whenever you click that button the new SPS suite is downloaded on your SyMenu folder and analyzed.
Thanks to the Irfanview SPS file, SyMenu discovers that the program is outdated and propose you to automatically update it.
If you accept, the program is automatically downloaded, installed and your old settings are preserved.

I don't know if I was able to explain better all the process. If not let me know and I'll try again :)

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Re: Finally a launcher for all portable programs?

#53 Post by sl23 » Wed May 27, 2015 1:02 am

Thank you for the explanation, it helped understand things a bit better ;)

One thing, for me, the 'Get apps online' button is a bit ambiguous. Perhaps 'Update App SPS' would be a better label for the function the button performs?

I realise it's early stages, but do you plan on making this function automated in the future? Updating apps one by one is far superior than doing it the traditional way, but if you have many apps in the list it's becomes laborious. Would it be difficult to implement auto-update procedure? As soon as it becomes automated I can ditch the PA.c platform.

Also, I have had regular issues when updating regarding connection. There is no problem with my internet connection and I only get this issue when using SyMenu's SPS app update feature. On occasion, it just gives an error about connecting to download an app. Next time it happens I'll take note of the message and post it here.

Just a thought, as this is sort of tied in with TPFC, couldn't the person placing updates to apps in the Latest section of the site add new SPS files for that app? So, when, for example, foobar2000 gets an update and is entered on TPFC, the SPS file gets updated too and is then available in SyMenu? Maybe you've already had this plan?

Nice job, really liking what you've done here and hope this takes off big time.

sl23

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Re: Finally a launcher for all portable programs?

#54 Post by UGMFree » Thu May 28, 2015 9:28 am

sl23 wrote:I realise it's early stages, but do you plan on making this function automated in the future? Updating apps one by one is far superior than doing it the traditional way, but if you have many apps in the list it's becomes laborious. Would it be difficult to implement auto-update procedure? As soon as it becomes automated I can ditch the PA.c platform.
Currently I'm working on the SPS Manager (SPS Manager is on the SyMenu side and not on the SPS Builder side) to create a feature that allows the multiple updates.
You'll have a checkbox for every available SPS. Through the checkboxes you can create the updating plan and when you launch it SyMenu will manage every selected program in batch. Every processed program will be installed, updated or deleted according with its current status.
When this batch procedure will be effective, well tested, and integrated in SyMenu I can think a way to launch it automatically.
Difficult? Not at all but it is a really complex feature so I have to work on it for several weeks.
sl23 wrote:Also, I have had regular issues when updating regarding connection. There is no problem with my internet connection and I only get this issue when using SyMenu's SPS app update feature. On occasion, it just gives an error about connecting to download an app. Next time it happens I'll take note of the message and post it here.
Please take note of the program causing this issue too.
Anyway it is quite normal that some programs are slower to download through SyMenu than in your browser because SyMenu is an application and qualifies itself as an application to the web site it visits. For this reason some web sites could be reluctant to download the file or it is necessary to wait a bit more to convince them (well... I'm not joking here... it's a sort psychiatric drama to ask some web sites to download their files).
In any case if you have any problem, download the file manually, using the special button available on the SPS Manager and install or update the program with the local package (it's the alternative mode available for the buttons Install and Update).
sl23 wrote:Just a thought, as this is sort of tied in with TPFC, couldn't the person placing updates to apps in the Latest section of the site add new SPS files for that app? So, when, for example, foobar2000 gets an update and is entered on TPFC, the SPS file gets updated too and is then available in SyMenu? Maybe you've already had this plan?
:) This was my first proposal to the TPFC admin and he told me that the users would have decided. I'm happy to see that someone starts to see that the SPS format could be an opportunity for TPFC too.
I proposed a better idea anyway, maybe too much disruptive but challenging too: to ground the release of a new/updated program in the TPFC web site on the SPS.
SPS is a documenting format that could be extended in any way. So a user can fill an SPS to deploy it on a web site or to instruct a program like SyMenu to install the program. All with the same source.

...ok that's my usual mess with the explanations...
let's try with an example.

How do you think I built this web page (http://www.ugmfree.it/SyMenuSuiteSPS.aspx)?
With the same SPS files SyMenu uses for its SPS Manager.

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Re: Finally a launcher for all portable programs?

#55 Post by sl23 » Thu May 28, 2015 3:13 pm

Thanks for taking the time to explain, I really hope this takes off as it would not only give serious competition for PA.com, but would actually surpass them. I'm looking forward to the future of SyMenu ;)

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Re: Finally a launcher for all portable programs?

#56 Post by UGMFree » Sun Jun 28, 2015 8:01 am

sl23 wrote:I'm looking forward to the future of SyMenu ;)
And the future is here again.
I've just released a new version for SyMenu (4.11) and the corresponding version for SPS Builder (1.07).
Let's see the new features of each one.

SyMenu
SyMenu has gained a really useful and strongly requested feature, the multi manager for SPS programs. Now you can choose a group of programs to install, delete or update and SyMenu will arrange for their management in batch. I know this feature really missed since the beginning but it is a complex thing and it required me weeks of work.
Now it seems ready and well working.
Someone has already told me that the monitoring messages shown during the batch operation could be better written :). Dont' worry, I promise that they will be improved with the next releases. Don't be too pretentious... English is not my first language :D

SPS Builder
In SPS Builder too we have a new compelling feature: among the enabled packers I included Inno Setup.
So if a good program is released with this powerful installer you can add it to the SyMenu SPS suite because it'll be unpacked without problem by SPS Builder and, of course, by SyMenu.
The second news, less epical than the first one, is a new optional field for the SPS file license. In fact I believe that the SPS file too is a creation that should be protected by a license. You can choose among the pre-filled CC licenses or fill the field with whatever license you like even the WTFPL or the "I know nothing about licensing so don't bother me and I leave the field empty...".

To finish, let's see the usual report on the suite program situation.

SyMenu suite: 196 programs
NirSoft suite: 251 programs
Sysinternals suite: 57 programs

Grand total: 504 programs...
yes finally we reach the fateful threshold... and Inno Setup programs are not arrived yet.

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Re: Finally a launcher for all portable programs?

#57 Post by the_watcher » Sun Nov 08, 2015 9:34 am

Can we somehow link an entry in the Symenu with it's entry in the SPS suite?
For example, let's say i have 50 portable apps downloaded. I can add them to Symenu, and use it as my launcher.
Can i link my downloaded apps to their equivalent SPS entry, so that Symenu can update them?
If i'm not mistaken, now if i want to take advantage of the SPS suite, I have to download again
every app from inside the SPS suite. Am i correct?

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Re: Finally a launcher for all portable programs?

#58 Post by UGMFree » Sun Nov 08, 2015 11:22 am

The reply is yes if you are a normal user but you always can hack the system.

This is not related to the SPS by itself but to the way SyMenu manages its own SPS.

I do an example related to a program available in the SyMenu suite only as a school exercise, but the work you have to do is so huge that the easier way is to download your programs again... SPS Manager works in batch too so it is not a really hard job.

Every portable program under the control of the SyMenu SPS Manager is a simple portable program that accomplishes certain rules:
1) its main folder is located inside the SPSSuite\SyMenuSuite folder
2) its main folder must be called exactly as the related SPS file plus a suffix _sps. For example for CCleaner Portable you have to create a folder named SPSSuite\SyMenuSuite\CCleaner_Portable
3) inside the root SPS folder you have to create an empty file called [version].sps.version. For example currently CCleaner is at version 5.11 so the file must be called 5.11.sps.version
4) you have to create a link among the program executables and SyMenu so enter in configuration and drag and drop the executable inside the treeview. For CCleaner you have two: CCleaner.exe and CCleaner64.exe. Save the configuration.

Ok now you can open the SPS Manager and see what happens. If you see your program as regularly installed you did everything well otherwise... Better luck next time!

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Re: Finally a launcher for all portable programs?

#59 Post by the_watcher » Mon Nov 09, 2015 11:41 am

Thank you for explaining this.
Having to download my apps again, and to set them up is quite a task for me right now.
I would appreciate it if Symenu was a little bit more flexible to the way it handles SPS.
Instead of having to set-up my apps again to use them with a specific launcher,
i'd like to be able to set-up the launcher to handle my apps.
For example, when i drag an executable to the Symenu, Symenu knows what version it is,
so maybe it can automatically create the file [version].sps.version in the folder where my app is.
And then it maybe could automatically link it to the appropriate SPS entry. Or give me the option to link it myself.
But all these are simply my personal choice.
I understand that Symenu is your app and you can do things the way you think is the best.
Having said that, i'll just add that the SPS is quite an achievement,
and Symenu itself is a great launcher, with lots of useful functions (i love the right click implementation on the menu).

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Re: Finally a launcher for all portable programs?

#60 Post by Midas » Mon Nov 09, 2015 11:59 am

Sadly, after the latest site changes, my updater script (http://www.portablefreeware.com/forums/ ... 087#p73087) no longer works.

Currently, the live link to the ZIPed updates package is gone (although it's still referred from http://www.ugmfree.it/Services/SymenuSP ... nuSuiteUrl, access is forbidden to http://www.ugmfree.it/download/SPSSyMenu/, plus the ZIP file name always changes), so I'm at loss to repair it... :oops:

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