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Posted on by Jake Harding in Product and company news

NEW: Citrix Integration in AppsAnywhere 2.6

Release Date: November 2018

We're very happy to share with you some hugely exciting updates from the development team this week; AppsAnywhere 2.6.0 is now available.

Learn about AppsAnywhere 2.6 latest features in the below reveal, presented by Technical Director, Ryan Heath:


We’ve crammed an incredible range of features into this release; in fact 24 change requests and 5 resolved defects make it the most packed release we have ever produced!

Ryan Heath, Software2 Technical Director. November 2018.

 

We're incredibly proud and grateful for a customer base as engaged with our product and invested in its developement as our customers are. We feel a real sense of community with our users and we absolutely adore watching this translate into progression for the product. It truly is awesome to see AppsAnywhere's trajectory be as heavily influenced by our users and valued customers and for that, we thank you.

Without further ado, let's take a look at our new version release, v2.6.0...

AppsAnywhere v2.6.0 Logos

Citrix Integration

Citrix Integration Graphic

Since the launch of AppsAnywhere back in 2016 our mission has been to bring together the most popular delivery methods available to an organization and make everything they provide accessible through AppsAnywhere. Citrix is the last of the major technologies used by our customers today to provide remote applications and desktops to their end users. Providing users the ability to access their Citrix resources through AppsAnywhere with the same ease of use as if they were logged into Citrix Receiver directly has been a big challenge and one that required a custom approach but we believe we finally have a brilliant solution for our customers and the groundwork for even more powerful links with Citrix moving forward.

Parallels RAS support on iOS, Android and Linux native clients

Vector graphic to show new parallels RAS support on IOS, Android and Linux

This time last year, we announced a new integration with Parallels RAS, the deepest integration we have done to date with support for remote apps and desktops being accessed through both the natively installed Parallels Client and their HTML5 offering, providing access to resources for end users on an amazing range of HTML5 compatible devices as well as native integrations for Windows and Mac OS. In the 2.6 release we have expanded this integration further to provide those native integration options such as local file directory mapping, printer access, copy/paste abilities and USB drive integration to Linux, Android, iOS and even Chromebooks!

This is a great step forward in our integration with Parallels RAS and will mean much more flexibility for users launching resources on these newly supported operating systems.  

Accessibility improvements & VPAT 2.0 statement

Vector image to portray multi level admin roles

Research suggests that up to 20% of AppsAnywhere users will have some form of disability or impairment that affects their use of our product. We are dedicated to ensuring that those users not only have a product that is fit for purpose and complies with all the latest standards but they get the same, simple, elegant user experience that we provide to the rest of our user base. In the 2.6 release we have made significant progress in this area by addressing some of the biggest pain points and missing functionality from an accessibility point of view. We have updated our VPAT 2.0 statement to reflect our latest compliance status but are by no means stopping here.

Over the next couple of releases we will be dedicating more resources to further this progress and provide even more flexibility and assistance to this critical set of our users.

Features:

  • AA-323: Citrix Receiver (Workspace App) Integration
  • AA-322: Add ability to present End User License Agreements on first use of AppsAnywhere 
  • AA-663: Provide auditing functionality for all changes made in AppsAnywhere admin
  • AA-1041: Provide more granular administrator roles (e.g. global admin, system admin, app admin)
  • AA-1109: Add ability to launch Parallels RAS apps using iOS native client
  • AA-1111: Add ability to launch Parallels RAS apps using Linux native client
  • AA-1112: Add ability to launch Parallels RAS apps using Android native client
  • AA-828: OS compatibility recognition for XBox and Playstation 
  • AA-996: OS compatibility recognition for Debian Linux
  • AA-497: Add OS compatibility setting for "other" (unrecognised) OSs
  • AA-1010: Improve support for IE and Edge on Windows touch-screen devices
  • AA-1081: Accessibility enhancement: Provide "skip to content" button when site receives focus
  • AA:1083: Accessibility enhancement: Make the main application list accessible through keyboard navigation
  • AA-1085: Accessibility enhancement: Make the user profile menu and associated areas accessible through keyboard navigation
  • AA-1279: Accessibility enhancement: Make the welcome tour accessible through keyboard navigation
  • AA-1094: Accessibility enhancement: Improve the ability for users to make use of AppsAnywhere using speech recognition tools
  • AA-1097: Accessibility enhancement: Make AppsAnywhere more accessible to those using screen readers
  • AA-1188: Mask the Swivel Two-Factor Authentication PIN on the 2FA input dialog
  • AA-1203: Send AppsAnywhere URL to client during validation to avoid the need for a call to the central API
  • AA-1285: Add a simple way to check that all translation files are up to date following an upgrade

Fixes: 

  • AA-1135: Compatibility issue with Cloudpaging 9.1.5 server
  • AA-1135: Anonymous users being recorded in Cloudpaging reporting data
  • AA-693: Unable to launch multiple apps from the same Cloudpaging pgackage
  • AA-1287: User interface making too many context calls to the server when a large number of apps exist 
  • AA-1012: App icons not being correctly displayed in large grid view
  • AA-1277: Reporter cache can be manually regenerated for current or future dates, causing issues with future caching
  • AA-651: A large number of app sessions can overload the manage apps sessions page

 

AppsAnywhere v2.6.0 Logos

AppsAnywhere historic release notes >>


Webinar Transcript

The broadcast is now starting, all attendees are in listen-only mode.

Hi there everybody, good day and welcome to our webinar. My name is Phil Spitze and I'm with Software2. I'm going to act a little bit as a moderator at this point, and first there's just a couple points of order. The webinar is being recorded and a sharing link will be distributed once the processing is complete. Also, we will be taking some questions at the end, so within the go to meeting panels, please use the Q&A section to submit any questions that you have.

All right, so thanks for joining us. The purpose of today's webinar is to review some exciting new features being added to our flagship product AppsAnywhere in the latest version which is 2.6. Personally, I think one of the fantastic things about Software2 is not just our commitment to the success of our customers, but in how much our customers can shape the product. I believe that half, if not more, of the features that you'll be seeing were all suggested by our customers and we deeply appreciate that feedback and we invite you to please continue to keep it coming.

With me today and handling the rest of the presentation is Ryan Heath. He is our technical director at Software2, and so without any further delay, Ryan, I will turn it over to you.

Thank you, Phil. Thank you for that introduction. I'll just check ... I'll start by checking first, you can see my screen, right?

Yep, all good.

Perfect. Okay. So yeah, welcome everybody and thanks for joining us today. My name's Ryan heath, I'm the Technical Director at Software2, my main purpose here at the company is to drive the product development for AppsAnywhere and I've been at Software2 since day one, all the way back in 2009 and been along for this whole ride. So I'm really excited to be here today and to talk to you all about what's in the next version of AppsAnywhere.

But before I do that, I'd like to just really quickly give an overview on the rest of our year so far. So we've had three releases of AppsAnywhere this year up to our latest one 2.6, which has, literally, just come out in the last couple of weeks. Within those releases we've released 44 new features, which is 50% improvement on last year, and we've only have to deal with half the number of defects that we dealt with last year as well. So we've got a lot of time and effort into Q&A and that reflected in the number of defects we dealt with this year as well. But a big improvement on the amount coming out of the development team here, so it's quite exciting.

We've got a couple of big wins for us, with Jamf Pro integration which we brought out earlier in the year. There was a webinar where I discussed that as well, if you want to go back and have a look on our website. The Citrix Integration and the accessibility stuff was a big win of what I'm going to be talking about today. And over the course of the year we've introduced six new delivery methods into AppsAnywhere. Our main drive with AppsAnywhere is to bring together as many delivery technologies as we can and we've been doing that since day one. And we're now up to 25 different ways of delivering applications to AppsAnywhere, which is really cool.

The last big thing for us this year, we've had our first AppsAnywhere only customers. These are people that aren't taking on the cloud paging products, which is used for Windows delivery of applications. They're, literally, just using AppsAnywhere to improve their student experience, which is very cool. We've also been growing our team this year, so we've taken on a new product owner, Farah, who you'll hopefully hear quite a lot from over the next 12 months, he's in charge of driving our development team and making sure how everything runs smoothly. And literally next week we're taking on a new quality assurance lead who'll be furthering development of our QA processes as well. So growing team, and that gets us on to the main point of this webinar is to go through the features of AppsAnywhere 2.6.

So I'm going to start by talking a little bit about the Citrix Integration because this has been a really exciting piece of work for us. As you may or may not know, we already integrate with VMware Horizon, Parallels RAS, and we work with more apps from Microsoft as well. The Citrix was one of the last big players that we were really keen on getting integrated with AppsAnywhere. Of course, we're not gonna stop here, but it's a big turning point for us to have the big players all integrated as well.

So, how this works functionally is that we integrate directly with Citrix Receiver, or as we now call it, the Citrix Workspace app on the user's computer. So, we are relying the provisions that you've already made in Citrix. So, you've already busy with, we've got a Citrix setup within your organization, and whatever applications are available to the user through Citrix Receiver you can bring those in to AppsAnywhere. And AppsAnywhere, through our clients will inspect the Citrix Receiver during validation to find which resources the user has access to.

So this gives us three new delivery methods. We have apps that are natively installed in your Citrix environment. We have apps that are Cloudpaged into your Citrix environment. So if anybody is utilizing Cloudpaging, rather than having to install the application on all your session ports, we can use AppsAnywhere to trigger the Cloudpaged deployment of the application into Citrix environment and then deliver that to the user through Citrix. And of course we've got the traditional actual desktops as well. All of those can be delivered through AppsAnywhere.

So the first instance of this release, this is available to devices that already have Citrix Receiver installed and configured. So we are assuming in the majority of cases that will be on managed devices where you push the out as part of your day.

So that's the trick. I feel like we're gonna be powering through these quite quickly. Do you feel free to put any questions that you've got in the chat box and Phil will either try to answer them or raise them at the end. But the next thing I'm gonna talk about is accessibility. So during our user day here in the UK in the middle of the year, June I think it was, I said that a big focus of ours for the next six months would be accessibility. And we had a company come in and offered some specific consultancy, they work with people with various disabilities of impairment. They provided us a lot of really useful advice on how we could improve the product, and that's been a big focus of ours for the last couple of months.

So, there's a lot of areas covered with this, but the main ones that I'm gonna talk through are improved support for IE and Edge on touch devices. We have skip-to-content option that will cut out all the header navigation and filters at the top of the product. That will take users straight to the application list if they hit that. We have a lot of improvement to help people navigate the product using only a keyboard. We've added a lot of features to simplify the experience for people navigating using speech. And a lot more improvements again for having the product read by screen-readers. So that including taking out or hiding a lot of the noise, if you like, from screen-readers, and also adding extra bits of description for what each of the components on the screen were.

We've just had one of our customers started from 508 compliance auditing, and got some good feedback from them, which was really well appreciated, the fact that we have got a lot of effort into this.

We do have an updated VPAT version two statement available, if you guys are interested in having a look. And that details all the improvements that we've made over the last six months.

This is by no means the end of this work, we are striving to bring the admin interface up to spec as much as the front end is, and we really want to improve this further and have all of our users get the same simplified experience whether it's got a disability or impairment or not. So this is something that we're gonna be focusing even more on as time goes on, but up until now we're really pleased with the improvements we've made in this release and I hope to be hearing good feedback from our customers as well on that.

Okay, some of the other features that we've added as End-User License Agreement to the product. This was something that we had do for legal reasons for us, perhaps anywhere with the product, but also something that a lot of our customers were asking for in terms of being able to provide the loan end-user license or service agreement to people that were using AppsAnywhere as well. So this is presented to a user the first time they every access AppsAnywhere. Ours is required, but you can choose to add in any other number of user agreements and customize those and translate them as well. And once the users accepted, they'll never be bothered by it again whenever they login, unless you make changes to that agreement and specifically say that they need to re-accept that.

Okay, we've dumped a couple of new security features into the product in this release. We've added multiple level admin roles, so we now have three levels of administrative in AppsAnywhere. We have an app admin who can manage applications and previsions and can do everything related to those tasks. We then have a system admin who can do everything an app admin can but they can also manage the setup of the system, help settings, banner settings, design, that sort of thing. And then we have the global admin that can manage the connectors to Cloudpage in Citrix, BM Ware, the active directory, basically do anything that can fundamentally break the product and stop being able to, to stop people being able to use it.

So you can assign the global admin role, by default this only applies to our access. If you want to apply in the global admin role and for someone within your organization, we can do that for you. And then from there you can assign the other admin roles yourself.

We've also added change auditing to everything to do with AppsAnywhere admin. So any changes that are made to any part of the admin console, you'll be able to trace that back in the change auditing page.

We've added some minor OS support improvements. So we have a customer here in the UK that's using Debian Linux as their main distribution on campus, and we weren't actually listing that specifically in the OS compatibility, so we've added that in. But we've also added in an 'other' category to OS support. So this is designed to catch any other device that's capable of hosting, basically an HTML 5 compatible browser. But obviously we can use Parallels RAS specifically, but a couple technologies to deliver applications through the browser as well.

Another of our customers here in the UK pointed out that quite a lot of their students don't actually have a computer in their halls of residence, but a lot of them have Xbox 1s, which has a keyboard and a mouse, and a HTML 5 compatible browser. So by putting in the other support we can actually catch devices such as an Xbox 1, which you can actually access AppsAnywhere and the more applications and use it through that. So, quite cool. I can't imagine many use cases for that, but for that one it's a pretty good one to talk about.

We've expanded our integration with Parallels. As of the last release, we supported Parallel on Windows and Macs through their native clients. They also have native clients on iOS, Linux and Android. So we now support the native experience if a user has those clients installed. Parallel don't currently offer a Chromebook native client, but at the end of January, I believe, they will be releasing a version of the Android client that's supported through the play store. So you could install the Android play store version on a Chromebook. So, technically I'm putting that in as win for Chromebooks start, as well.

There are a few updates to Cloudpaging 9.1.5 that affected our integration with AppsAnywhere. So those are fully supported as of AppsAnywhere 2.6. And for anyone who is providing translations in AppsAnywhere, you might have had issues when we provide upgrades in the past with us adding extra lines into the translation files. So we've added an area within AppsAnywhere admin where you can basically just verify that your translation file is fully up to date, and it will notify you of any additions that need adding, retranslating for the latest version.

So those are the main highlights. There is a lot more in this release, the full release notes if you look at the URL there, docs.software2.com. Within the documentation, if you go to useful resources you can find the full release notes for every version. I highly recommend, if you're on this webinar you're obviously interested by and highly recommend you go take a look and get the full details on everything that's in this version.

AppsAnywhere 2.6 obviously comes with new versions of the clients. So, prefix the latest versions of our Windows and Macs clients, and there's a lot of improvements in those as well, which I'll quickly go over. So obviously we've got the support for Citrix, we have improved on our client detection process. So the latest versions of the clients actually install a custom font that we designed onto the user system, and then AppsAnywhere in browser uses that font to detect whether or not the client is installed. So actually in detecting a local install client is quite difficult, but we've found this technique to be fairly accurate. In fact very accurate, I should say. So if a user goes to the AppsAnywhere portal and they haven't got the client they will be notified to download, but if we detect that they have got the client now, they won't get that pop-up anymore with the blue and the green box that asks them to verify whether they've used AppsAnywhere on that device before. It will just detect that the client is there and take them straight in. So it's one less click for the user, which is great.

The client install of MSI now supports upgrades through MSI, which has not been possible up until now because AppsAnywhere has an auto update feature which relied on a specific thing in the MSI which meant you couldn't just do a standard MSI upgrade, but we've made improvements that you now can.

Quite a big change to how the various of the clients talk to each. We've moved to a TCP communication to solve two major issues that we've been having. Number one, we found a lot of our customers were having issues with validation, and we narrowed this down to F secure antivirus actually blocking communication between various bits of the clients. So the move to TCP communications prevents that. But it also allows us to verify when a validation request comes in that the client is ready to receive that request. In the past we've had issues where if someone goes straight to AppsAnywhere as soon as they login to a machine and try to validate before the client's actually ready to receive that validation request, that validation request would fail. So that's another improvement that we've remove validation failures from the possibility. It is worth noting that that's a big change to how the used to work, like I said. So it's worth doing a little bit of extra testing in your environment to verify that doesn't extend problems for you, but we don't anticipate that it will.

We've added in support for environment variables. So the two places where the clients accepts launch commands, when we use locally installed delivery methods to launch executables and when we use launch commands for Cloudpaging. But both of those now support the use of environment variables. There's the standard window of environment variables and Cloudpaging template variables as well.

And we now support multiple custom launch commands. So if you are familiar with Cloudpaging, when you package up an application you specify the launch commands for how the application is launched. They can customize that per delivery method in AppsAnywhere. So the theory being you can package up a sweep of applications that the auto desk greet as a single package, you can add each application from that package into AppsAnywhere as a separate application and just customize the launch command that it uses to run those applications. So, the same package, it can clarify different apps in AppsAnywhere or utilize in the same Cloudpaging package just to save you a little bit of packaging time there.

Okay, so that's basically everything that's in AppsAnywhere 2.6. I feel like I've spoken incredibly fast for the last 20 minutes. I don't know if questions have come in, but there are any just let us know. I'm gonna quickly touch upon what we're working on next for the start of next year. The main priorities for 2.7 and a little bit further beyond are currently looking at something like this.

So we have a big project on, have for the last three months, still working on a big project with McCarthy. So AppsAnywhere captures a whole range of information every time someone logs into the system, we know what sort of device they're on, we know what apps they're launching, how we've delivered it to them and whole lot of statistics like that. Up until now we've provided very basic reporting based on the Cloudpaging delivery method, but we're starting to fully utilize all that data that we're capturing from AppsAnywhere and are really excited to be looking to provide a more fully featured reporting solution to all our customers, probably towards the first quarter, the end of the first quarter of next year. So, that's really exciting. Really excited to show you that in the next couple of months.

From the user interface point of view we're gonna be allowing people, as defined by the administrator, to create lists of applications and share those via a shareable link. So this is one of our highest rated customer requests on our custom forum at the minute. So for example, an academic could go in, create a list of all the applications that a group of students need to a particular course, name it with the course title and send out that link and all those students will be able to see that within their dashboard from the focus menu.

We're also looking at providing the ability to add what I've started calling pre-launch dialogs. That it started as a request to put a EULA in front of individual delivery methods. So if launching an app in a particular way meant that the user had to accept the license agreement or confirm that they're going to use it for academic use and not for anything else, then you could use this functionality for that. But as we've squashed this out there's a whole other range of uses as well. So you might just want to pop up a dialog that says, by the way you need to enter this information when the app launches so you can use it. Or any sort of information to help them use the product, make sure they understand how they're permitted to use it, or make them, like I said, accept some sort of license agreement. So, any sort of dialog with an action that you want to pop up before a user gets to launch an application then they click the launch button. That's covered by pre-launch dialogs.

And I said we've taken on a new QA lead, so there's a big focus over the next 12 months on strengthening and improving our QA process, and that relates to documentation as well. So we are aware that there are still holes in our documentation site, so over the next couple of months we'll be definitely plugging these up with the extra resources we've got available.

And then to cover the beyond, just a little hint, we're looking at providing a more modern up to date user interface for students. So forward, and that again comes back around to the accessibility features and making improvements to the user interface, further those accessibility goals that I described.

So the final thing I want to talk very quickly before we finish up here is the Pioneer Programme. So, Farah, our new products owner is leading on this. This is a program that we're introducing here at Software2, we're moving to more agile development internally, and what we're looking to do is reach out more to our customers and get even more feedback on each stage of the development process from our customers. So if you focus on getting feedback on new features that we're thinking about designing as we design them, we're looking for feedback on how you think it's going, how you would use those features, what sort of user experience you'd expect. And then once we've got through developing of those features, we're looking at providing more early access to early testing to our customers that are interested and easier access to beta releases and things like that.

So this is currently open to registrations. If anybody's interested in being more involved in the new features we're developing and providing feedback and getting early access to test new features as they're available, I very much encourage you to check out the registration page that I've got on the screen there. Register.software2.com/pioneers and keep an eye on the customer support forums. We'll be adding a dedicated area to those forums as well with news and announcements on updates with the Pioneer Programme. So we've always very much welcomed feedback from our customers on our development process, but this is formalized in the approach and we want to get you even more involved. So, like I say, if you got the time and you're interested please do head to that URL and register your interest, I'd very much appreciate it.

Okay, guys, thank you very much. Thank you for listening to me talk for a good solid 38 minutes. I hope that was useful to you all, I appreciate you taking out your time. I'm gonna hand back over to Phil and ask if there are any questions.

Yes, great. Thanks, Ryan, for all that information, that's always exciting stuff to see what's coming and what we've got already. So, yeah, we do have just a few questions. The first, which kind of applies to most everybody is, how do they go about getting version 2.6? I can answer that, this one, this ones easy. It's as easy as just opening a support ticket. We'll work with you to establish the proper outage window and verify that all pre-reqs are in place and then get you upgraded. So, pretty straight forward process, just starts with a support ticket.

Couple of other audience questions here. I've got a two part Citrix question for you. The first is, will the Citrix Integration support Chromebooks, where Citrix Workspace offers a plug-in for Chromebooks and will our integration be able to work with that?

The simply answer is no, not at this time. At the moment Citrix Integration is focused on Windows devices. We are in the process of extending that to Mac as well, but at the moment we've not sorted that out for other types of devices.

Okay. And part B is, in the future, with that additional future development, will you be working on how to handle integration with client devices that don't have the pre-configured Citrix Receiver already installed?

Absolutely, yes we will.

Okay. Perfect. Another question back to the EULA presentation that we've got in AppsAnywhere now, will the SSO URL bypass EULA so that if it's in a lab scenario the students aren't having to accept the EULA every time.

The SSO will not, but there is a dedicated slash labs URL that is specifically tailored for that process, which can then trigger a specific type of SSO if you go into your SSO settings. And the labs URL will kill the EULA. But you can turn it back on, you can enforce the EULA in labs as well if so desire. Again, that's a setting. But, no, the default behavior is the EULA is presented all the time, unless you are using the slash lab URL. And then if you use the slash lab URL you can specify which SSO method you want that to use as well.

Great. Thank you for that clarification. Looks like we have time just for one more. With the new multi-level admin roles, is it possible to have an admin login that's read only, and the use case here is around kind of first line help desk worker's that might just need to see how something is provisioned.

No, that doesn't intend to read on the admin. More complicated in the sense that we have to go through every feature of the admin instead and integrate those walls to determine what sort of access they have to that feature. So the initial step it was much easier to just decorate off the features and provide access based on your roles to those. But that's absolutely something we're working on in the near future, we're providing a finer grain of detail and different types of access, like if they're read and write access.

All right. Sounds good. All right, so I think that is it. Again, Ryan, thanks very much for the information. We're gonna conclude the webinar for today. All of the questions have been recorded, so if there was one that we didn't have a chance to answer, one of us will follow up by email. As always, we invite you to keep an eye on our website for the latest news and events. And please don't hesitate to reach out if we can be of any assistance to your school and your team. So with that, thanks everybody. Have a great rest of the day and enjoy the holiday season.

Thank you everybody, have a great day. Bye-bye.

 

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