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New Features in the Novell Application Launcher (NAL) v1.1

Articles and Tips: tip

Dave Crowther

Matt Brooks

Ron Sanders

01 Mar 1997


The Novell Application Launcher v1.1 that was released in November 1996 contains many improvements over the previous version (1.02). To reflect the new scope and direction for this release, the name was changed from NetWare Application Manager (NAM) or NetWare Application Launcher to Novell Application Launcher (NAL). Here is a brief discussion of the updates and new features in the current release.

Administrative Enhancements

32-Bit NetWare Administrator Snap-ins. NAL 1.1 has both 16-bit and 32-bit snap-ins for the NetWare Administrator (NWAdmin) utility, which provides native snap-ins for Windows 3.x, Windows 95, and Windows NT (3.51 and 4.0). To use NAL 1.1, you need NWAdmin v4.11 or greater. The new versions of NWAdmin for Windows 3.x and Windows 95 ship with NetWare 4.11. The new NWAdmin for Windows NT ships with the Client for Windows NT v4.0. All three versions of the new NWAdmin can be downloaded separately from the NAL download page listed below.

New Object Class in NDS Schema. The application object classes have been consolidated from the four separate classes in NWAdmin--Application (DOS), Application (Windows 3.x), Application (Windows 95), and Application (Windows NT)--to a single class displayed in NWAdmin as "Application". (The true class name is "App:Application". All class and attribute names used by NAL now have an "App:" prefix.)

Because all new features in NAL 1.1 are only available in the new "Application" object class, this is the only type of object that can be created in NAL 1.1. However, NAL 1.1 fully supports application objects created using NAL 1.0, as well as the migration of NAL 1.0 application objects to NAL 1.1.

Platform Setting. NAL 1.1 allows the administrator to specify what platforms can display the application objects, rather than displaying the application on all platforms that support the application.

Maximize Flag. NAL 1.1 allows for programs to be launched as Maximized in addition to the previously available Normal and Minimized options.

Fault Tolerance. NAL 1.1 provides a fault tolerance mechanism in the event an application object cannot be launched. This mechanism allows the administrator to create a set of "backup" application objects in case a server is down or cannot be accessed due to network failures. The multiple application objects are linked in an ordered list that is used in the event the primary application object fails to launch. (Manual assignment of file system rights is necessary on all servers where application objects have been created in a fault tolerant environment.)

Load Balancing. The new load balancing feature distributes the relative load across several application servers. Multiple application objects are linked together in a list. When a user selects an application to be launched, one of the application objects from the list (including the primary object) is selected for launching. This allows an administrator to spread the application load across a set of equal application servers. (Manual assignment of file system rights is necessary on all servers where application objects have been created in a balanced-load environment.)

Search Drive Support. Search drive support has been added in the drives section of the object. Search drives can be selected to be added to the beginning or end of the PATH. On Windows 95 and Windows NT workstations, the modified PATH (including search drives) is only visible to the application that was launched. On Windows 3.x workstations, the modified PATH is visible globally.

Configuration of E-mail Address for Contact. The administrator can select which user object attribute is used as the e-mail address for contacts. By default, the "Mailbox ID" attribute is used for the e-mail address. However, in NWadmin 4.11 this attribute is no longer available to be set without the NetWare MHS snap-in (available separately).

The administrator must manually assign appropriate rights to the attribute selected as the e-mail property for the user so that other users will be able to see the e-mail address of the contact person. By default, users do not have sufficient rights to view the contact information available for another user.

User Interface Enhancements

Folder View. NAL 1.1 introduces a Windows 95 Explorer-like look and feel wherein the user is presented with a tree view on the left pane and icons in the right pane. To simply the search for a particular application, the system administrator can classify applications into logical groups represented by folders in the tree view. The system administrator can configure the number of folders and the naming of the folders. The original NAL 1.0 view (icons only) is still available.

Personal Folders. With NAL 1.1, a user can create custom groupings or folders of applications from the set of applications given by the administrator. A user can drag-and-drop application folders from a system folder or another personal folder into a personal folder. The personal folders are stored in NDS in the NetWare Registry Database (NRD) on the user object, provided the tree has the necessary schema modifications (those available in NetWare 4.11) and the user has rights to the NRD:Registry Data and NRD:Registry Index attributes on their user object. Otherwise, the personal folders are stored locally in the Windows registry.

New Icon Views. NAL 1.1 supports all four standard Windows icon views: Large Icon, Small Icon, List, and Details. (The Small Icon and Details views are only available on Windows 95 and NT.)

Extended Refresh. In NAL 1.1, the user can do a refresh by pressing the F5 key or selecting View | Refresh from the menus. This refresh re-reads the user's "Launcher Configuration" settings and dynamically changes the settings used by NAL. These settings can affect features like timed refresh, manual refresh, and so on.

One caveat in NAL 1.1 concerns the folder-view option when NAL is used as the shell in Windows 95 or Windows NT and the user has not logged in before NAL is run (which is normally the case). If the folder-view is not enabled when NAL is loaded, the folder-view cannot be made available by a user refresh, even after the user logs in and has the folder-view enabled. The user must exit NAL and reload it to enable the folder-view. (By default, the folder-view is not enabled in the ‘Launcher Configuration' settings. An administrator must select the appropriate user or container object and enable the folder-view.) The same is true if the folder-view is available when NAL is loaded: it will remain available until NAL is exited. This issue will be addressed in a future release of NAL.

Enhanced Scripting. NAL 1.1 has the ability to provide the default login user interface while a pre-launch or post-termination script is being run. This allows ATTACH commands for NetWare 3.x servers to be used; users will be prompted to enter their username and password. There is also support for the TERM command, which can be used to stop the launch of an application in the pre-launch script. For example, TERM "123" would cause the application to not be launched, whereas TERM "0" would stop the processing of the script but still run the application.

Software Requirements

To run NAL 1.1, users must be running one of the following NetWare Clients: for Windows 3.x, NetWare Client 32 for DOS/Windows or NetWare DOS Requester (VLM) v1.20 or newer; for Windows 95, NetWare Client 32 for Windows 95; for Windows NT, the NetWare Client for Windows NT v4.0.

The system administrator must meet the same requirements as the user, plus have the NetWare Administrator v4.11 for Windows 3.x, Windows 95, or Window NT.

You can obtain more information about NAL from the Novell Support Connection page at http://support.novell.com/home/client/nam/ or from the NAL Marketing and Download page at http://www.novell.com/managewise/NAL/.

* Originally published in Novell AppNotes


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