Got An App? Make It A PortableApp - InformationWeek

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12/1/2009
10:46 AM
Serdar Yegulalp
Serdar Yegulalp
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Got An App? Make It A PortableApp

Readers of this blog know I'm a fan of the PortableApps.com suite of open source programs. Now, its curators have made it that much easier to take your app -- freeware or open source -- and make it a PortableApp.

Readers of this blog know I'm a fan of the PortableApps.com suite of open source programs. Now, its curators have made it that much easier to take your app -- freeware or open source -- and make it a PortableApp.

The way they've done this is via the 1.0 release of the PortableApps.com Installer, a tool for packaging a properly-formatted application into the one-click NSIS package used by the PA suite. The app in question needs to be prepared along certain guidelines to be used, but once that's done the rest is a snap. All aspects of the process -- the installer, the app guidelines -- are open for inspection and cost nothing to get rolling.

Why do this? Packaging an app as a PortableApp makes it that much easier for people to install it, try it out, get hooked on it, and recommend it to others. And, it must be said, easier to remove it.If there's anything more annoying than going through the trouble of getting a program working only to find it's not what you need, it's trying to get rid of it and discovering it's left behind a bevy of empty directories and unremoved user-profile files -- like inconsiderate picnickers dropping so much litter.

Plenty of programs existed in self-contained deployments before PA appeared on the scene; I ran a number of them through the PA menu app after I started using PA. With PA, though, it's become that much easier to provide people with such programs in a consistent and non-proprietary way. It's paying off, too: within the last year, just about every freeware / open source app of consequence I've recommended to people has either already been a PA-delivered app or has since been repackaged as one.

The next step, and it will be a complicated one, is a way to automate the entire app-packaging process, especially for programs that have their own installer and register system components like services or drivers. Some tentative steps have already been made in this direction (here's one example), and they're far from complete. But boy, will it ever be worth it.

Our "A New IT Manifesto" report looks at a variety of new approaches and technologies that let IT rebels take on a whole new role, enhancing their companies' competitiveness and engaging their entire organizations more intimately with customers. Download the report here (registration required).

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