App Briefcase - make programs portable [discontinued]

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Jarte Guy
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App Briefcase - make programs portable [discontinued]

#1 Post by Jarte Guy » Mon Aug 10, 2009 4:01 pm

I am introducing a new program that allows some non-portable apps to run as portable apps. The program is called App Briefcase and can be found at http://www.appbriefcase.com. I released the first beta version of the program today.

More information is on the web site, but I will provide a little information here as well... App Briefcase does not use custom launchers, wrappers, or scripts. Instead, it manages the registry entries and Windows app data folder files for selected apps. It basically synchronizes the computer's selected registry and app data folders with the data it manages. It can restore the selected registry and app data folders to their original state when it exits. App Briefcase also mounts the USB drive using a consistent drive letter since most non-portable apps don't handle changing drive letters very well. And, App Briefcase provides a customizable, tray based app menu. You don't have to use the menu if you already like PStart, etc, but it's there if you want it.

App Briefcase's main advantage over other solutions is its simplicity of use and its ability to run anywhere (i.e., Win XP, Vista, and 7; both 32 and 64-bit OS; both admin and limited accounts). The main disadvantage is that it works on a smaller percentage of apps than other solutions. In my experience, App Briefcase seems to work pretty well for freeware, but getting payware to successfully run as portable is hit or miss.

I hope some of you will find App Briefcase to be useful. Feedback is welcome, and please report any bugs.

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Re: App Briefcase

#2 Post by -.- » Mon Aug 10, 2009 7:19 pm

looks nice, but is it something like a mix of mojopac and pstart?

donald
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Re: App Briefcase

#3 Post by donald » Tue Aug 11, 2009 1:23 am

Please point to, or give a list of any apps it will run portably.

Specifically I would like to see a prime example of a non-portable app that can be run portably with this app.

I would like to see what if anything it might leave behind.


Thanks for the application.

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Jarte Guy
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Re: App Briefcase

#4 Post by Jarte Guy » Tue Aug 11, 2009 5:49 am

looks nice, but is it something like a mix of mojopac and pstart?
The effect is more like a combination of NSIS launchers and PStart. AB does basically the same thing as NSIS launchers (i.e., establish, and later restore, registry entries and user app data files), but without the need for scripting or creating launchers. I believe MojoPac is more of an emulator solution.
Please point to, or give a list of any apps it will run portably.
Here are some of the less obscure non-portable apps I use AB for:

FireFox*
OpenOffice**
Putty
Thunderbird*
TightVNC
Weather Gopher
WinSCP
WordWeb

* - I use the -profile command line parameter to store the vast majority of the non-portable data in a TrueCrypt volume on the USB drive (more info...)
** - Only briefly tested since I don't really use it

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MiDoJo
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Re: App Briefcase

#5 Post by MiDoJo » Tue Aug 11, 2009 2:12 pm

Here are some of the less obscure non-portable apps I use AB for:

FireFox*
OpenOffice**
Putty
Thunderbird*
TightVNC
Weather Gopher
WinSCP
WordWeb
Many of these apps you listed are already portable/exist in portable form.
WinSCP comes portable (http://www.portablefreeware.com/index.php?id=214). Two forms of portable Putty (http://www.portablefreeware.com/index.php?q=putty)
Firefox, Thunderbird, and Openoffice are all available from portableapps.com (also from this site)
I've seen people who claim to run TightVNC portably
I know nothing about WordWeb or Weather Gopher
I think Donald is asking for a list that'll show us somethings it does cleanly (for instance some of the Apps rejected by TPFC).
On the Clean point,
(i.e., establish, and later restore, registry entries and user app data files),
This does not seem clean, nor does it seem "limited user" friendly. Can this app even be used on a limited user account? It's definitely not stealth, but nor are many other apps in the database.

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Jarte Guy
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Re: App Briefcase

#6 Post by Jarte Guy » Tue Aug 11, 2009 7:26 pm

Many of these apps you listed are already portable/exist in portable form.
I should have been more clear: App Briefcase makes the official builds of the apps I listed portable. The official builds of all those apps have entries in the registry and/or user app data folders, and AB handles those.
I think Donald is asking for a list that'll show us somethings it does cleanly
I'm not sure what apps may be of particular interest, but if you want to list some that need a portable solution I will take a look. Please keep in mind I do not claim AB can make any app portable. It's designed to work for apps whose only non-portable dependencies are 1) the HKCU\Software and HKLM\Software areas of the registry, 2) data residing in the Windows user app data folders, and 3) the need to run from a consistent drive letter.
This does not seem clean
Do you mean stealth? AB does not claim to be stealth. OTOH, AB does restore the areas of the registry and user app data folders it has synchronized back to their original state when it exits, if it is running in "guest mode". I believe this is basically the same thing some of you are doing with NSIS scripts, but without the need for scripts. If true stealth is needed then an emulator solution will be necessary, or a portable build of the app's source code.
Can this app even be used on a limited user account?
Yes. AB worked fine in my testing on a limited account. But there is a caveat: the HKLM area of the registry is read-only on a limited account. So, some non-portable apps that create registry entries in HKLM may not run properly on a limited account. Others will run fine. It just depends on how the individual app handles the situation. Of course, apps that don't use HKLM won't be affected in any case. Note that AB's App Properties window indicates whether an app requires admin privileges to update some of its settings (i.e., HKLM registry entries).

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MiDoJo
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Re: App Briefcase

#7 Post by MiDoJo » Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:17 pm

Jarte Guy wrote:I should have been more clear: App Briefcase makes the official builds of the apps I listed portable. The official builds of all those apps have entries in the registry and/or user app data folders, and AB handles those.
Yes, but the point is why bother if portable versions already exist. The List you gave us, for all intensive purposes is useless because there are much cleaner ways of doing these apps.
Jarte Guy wrote:I'm not sure what apps may be of particular interest, but if you want to list some that need a portable solution I will take a look.
No, we want you to list some that you have used successfully that wouldn't be redundant.
Jarte Guy wrote:Do you mean stealth? AB does not claim to be stealth.
No I mean clean, I'm saying that, say my computer crashes while using An AB-ified App it seems like it would leave a ton of debris. I meant stealth when I said "It's definitely not stealth, but nor are many other apps in the database.
Jarte Guy wrote: Yes. AB worked fine in my testing on a limited account. But there is a caveat: the HKLM area of the registry is read-only on a limited account. So, some non-portable apps that create registry entries in HKLM may not run properly on a limited account. Others will run fine. It just depends on how the individual app handles the situation. Of course, apps that don't use HKLM won't be affected in any case. Note that AB's App Properties window indicates whether an app requires admin privileges to update some of its settings (i.e., HKLM registry entries).
Then actually the answer to my question is "NO it cannot" for exactly the reason you say, I asked to see if it COULD handle things like writing in non-current-user reg keys and directories without user privilege to write in (i.e. I postulated that maybe it would write "virtual" images a-la vista's compatibility folders)
Jarte Guy wrote:Note that AB's App Properties window indicates whether an app requires admin privileges to update some of its settings (i.e., HKLM registry entries).
That's a pretty cool feature (and actually would be of great use to the TPFC community IMHO)

Jarte Guy, please don't get me wrong; I'm not trying to poo-poo this program, nor am I even saying your post isn't of value. I actually think this program seems pretty cool. What I am doing is trying to cover, to the best of my ability, all the concerns that may come up within this forum/community (Including my own). :) I also understand that you are aware that this app isn't trying to be submitted to the Database (As you posted it in discussion and not submission) so I understand that the app need not follow Andrew's strict Portablility standards (IIRC he doesn't include any of the so called nsis Launchers either)

(P.s. This was the second time I wrote this rather long post (as also happened on my first post to this thread) so I apologize if I skimmed over any of my answers :) )

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Re: App Briefcase

#8 Post by Jarte Guy » Thu Aug 13, 2009 8:06 am

The List you gave us, for all intensive purposes is useless
I apologize if I misinterpreted Donald's question and my response was "useless". Personally, I prefer not to use unofficial builds of open source apps, but I admit I may be in the minority in that regard.
No, we want you to list some that you have used successfully that wouldn't be redundant
Many of the apps I use the most are already natively portable, thanks in large part to PF. The apps I currently handle with AB, other than those I listed, would tend to be of little interest to most people. So, unfortunately, I don't have a better list for you.
say my computer crashes while using An AB-ified App it seems like it would leave a ton of debris
AB will handle that situation gracefully if you restart it after rebooting from the crash. Again, AB's method is similar to what NSIS scripts do, but without the scripts. If you find the use of NSIS scripts to be unclean, or otherwise objectionable, then AB will not be the right solution for you either.
I asked to see if it COULD handle things like...
I'm sorry I misinterpreted your question. I'm a programmer so I tend to read things pretty literally. Bottom line: AB can not help those apps that are dependent on HKLM registry entries when they run on a limited account. AB itself can be used on limited accounts (that's how I interpreted your question because not all portability solutions can).
I'm not trying to poo-poo this program...
Understand that I'm not trying to push AB on anyone. I initially wrote it to fit my own needs, although I did try to polish it for the benefit of others. If there is sufficient interest in it I will continue to develop it. If not, it's no big deal, I have other projects that need my time.

If my attempts to answer questions have failed it is not because I'm trying to trick anyone or make AB seem better than it is. I've simply misinterpreted the questions. I have no interest in promoting AB as a silver bullet, it's not.
you are aware that this app isn't trying to be submitted to the Database
That's correct. I would prefer AB not be in the database during the beta period. In fact, I haven't uploaded or announced AB anywhere else because I prefer that it go through its beta phase here in the PF community. Also, I know that if there's little interest here then there will be little interest anywhere else either, in which case I should not waste time developing it beyond my own needs.

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Re: App Briefcase

#9 Post by M@tty » Thu Aug 13, 2009 11:27 am

MiDoJo wrote:IIRC he doesn't include any of the so called nsis Launchers either
MiDoJo wrote:Firefox, Thunderbird, and Openoffice are all available from portableapps.com (also from this site)
Anyway, when I first read the brief I imagined some sort of automatic JauntePE. That would be much more useful software to the world I think. Your program and website have a clean, professional feel to them, which is nice. Unfortunately your software doesn't offer anything that I personally would benefit from, keep up the good work though as I'm sure others will benefit!

-.-
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Re: App Briefcase

#10 Post by -.- » Thu Aug 13, 2009 1:48 pm

hm been playing with it, but a tutorial or faq might be helpful :S

so far i've just been installing it to the AB folder...

also would be nice if it worked on local hdd, and not on removable drives. I know there isn't real need to use it on hdd, but I like to keep it clean if possible

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nycjv321
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Re: App Briefcase

#11 Post by nycjv321 » Thu Aug 13, 2009 3:46 pm

@MiDoJo get off of Jarte Guy nuts dude jeez.. hes submitting an application if it works it works... from what I'm reading it automates the creation of portable launchers just like portableapps.com but people should always have options.... u might use portableapps.. I might use a batch script u might use utorrent I might use halite it is choice and u are being extremely unkind and rude to this programmer...

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MiDoJo
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Re: App Briefcase

#12 Post by MiDoJo » Thu Aug 13, 2009 5:47 pm

nycjv321 wrote:@MiDoJo get off of Jarte Guy nuts dude jeez.. hes submitting an application if it works it works... from what I'm reading it automates the creation of portable launchers just like portableapps.com but people should always have options.... u might use portableapps.. I might use a batch script u might use utorrent I might use halite it is choice and u are being extremely unkind and rude to this programmer...
I apolo if I am seeming rude, again this is not my purpose. I'm just trying to work out what and how of the program
midojo wrote:That's a pretty cool feature (and actually would be of great use to the TPFC community IMHO) <SNIP>
I actually think this program seems pretty cool.

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Re: App Briefcase

#13 Post by donald » Thu Aug 13, 2009 8:09 pm

Jarte Guy


Thanks for the list I appreciate that it can handle these and I want to try a regshot before and after use with one of these; Firefox.

Another question for you with Firefox have you had any luck with non-portable extensions/add-ons?

Finally, thanks for sharing!

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Jarte Guy
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Re: App Briefcase

#14 Post by Jarte Guy » Fri Aug 14, 2009 8:43 am

a tutorial or faq might be helpful
Yeah, the web site and documentation are a little skimpy at this point, but they'll eventually fill out. Meanwhile, the Quick Start and Making Apps Portable pages should help some.
would be nice if it worked on local hdd
I'll consider that. AB is prevented from running on the Windows drive to help eliminate confusion for anyone who might think that's where it belongs, or anyone who inadvertently places it in C:\Program Files out of habit.
with Firefox have you had any luck with non-portable extensions/add-ons?
Adblock Plus is the only extension I use and it seems to work fine. But I do recommend using FireFox's "-profile" command line parameter to keep your FireFox profile on your USB drive with FireFox itself. That step alone makes FireFox nearly portable without AB or other solution. Once you're sure the moved profile is working you can delete it from the Windows user app data folder so AB doesn't waste time keeping it synchronized (the profile is big).

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Re: App Briefcase

#15 Post by webfork » Sat Apr 11, 2020 5:22 pm

Old thread update: this portabilizer program's site is discontinued and offline, archive.org page: https://web.archive.org/web/20130809000 ... fcase.com/ ... I was not able to find a program mirror. No info on the author's other webpage (jarte.com).

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