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ALP is implemented as an Asynchronous Pluggable Protocol. It acts like a WEB server but without need of network. It executes WEB applications such as ASP pages and CGI applications. ALP makes Internet Explorer to be server and client. With ALP you can write stand-alone desktop applications, CD-ROM autoruns, use ASP for pure desktop software and still keep your code ready to run on WEB servers too.
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Application deployment (deployment examples)

This page lists several ALP application deployment samples. The application role is assigned to simple pages in order to make the samples more simple and easy to understand. Only a few of the samples contain important ASP code (see DB on th CD for example) and there is one common ASP based tool included in all the examples that may need it - TESTPC directory with two ASP pages intended to check the PC for certain common components and provide the user with link to the update (on the net or on the CD - the samples point to our site but can be changed to point to a file on the CD).

The deployment scenarios are many and we hope these samples are good representation of the most popular. To build your own setup get the closest example(s) and change its configuration and content. Download the ZIP files if you want to use the sample and the SFX (Self extract archives) if you want smaller and fast preview only. The SFX packages are created with WinRAR and can be unpacked without starting them by using the WinRAR archiver. The SFX packages are configured to start the installer or the ALPFrame and will not allow you to extract the files manually.

The examples:

Name Download Autorun Installation Comments
ALPAutorunSimple ZIP (660k)
SFX EXE (480k)
Yes No Simple autorun application based on pure ALP components only. It has no need of ADO therefore the package does not contain testing code.
ALPAutorunDB ZIP (615k)
SFX (426k)
Yes No Autrun application with ADO usage. It needs to check the PC and provide update links if needed.
ALPRedist ZIP (785k)
SFX (505k)
No Yes ALP redistributable files. No application is included - this package is intended to be started almost silently on the PC to install the ALP engine. Recommended if you use other setup solutions (configure it to start after or before the other setup)
ALPWithAppInstall ZIP (708k)
SFX (478k)
No Yes ALP application installation. This package contains the ALP engine and the application and installs them.
AutorunCopy ZIP (715k)
SFX (481k)
Yes Yes* Application developed for autorun deployment that allows the user to copy it to the local hard drive as an alternative. It is just copy process - no component registration is done - e.g. the only purpose of such package will be keeping the CD drive free.
AutorunInstall ZIP (1.30M)**
SFX (548k)
Yes Yes Autorun and install. This package contains two applications (or two versions of the same app.) - one for installation and one for autorun. The both applications are mixed by simply putting them in different directories.
AutorunInstallSmart ZIP (722k)
SFX (485k)
Yes Yes Like the previous but this time all the common files are shared by the autorun application and the installer. E.g. use the previous if you are in hurry and choose this one if you want to pack everything most efficiently.
ALPInstallCDDB ZIP (722k)
SFX (485k)
No
(autorun starts the installation)
Yes Installs the logical part of the application to the PC, records in the registry the path to the data base (in real world it can be also a directory with db, images and other resources) and then the installed application asks for the CD/path to the DB if the file is not found where expected (as it was written in the registry by the setup).
Install-ALPAndPHP ZIP (8MB) No Yes This sample contains ALP and PHP 4.3.4.4 (a little stripped down from some unneeded files - but more can be removed on your decision). It shows how PHP application can be distributted with ALP. In this case this is an installed version which puts independent copy of PHP on the target PC and uses it to run PHP pages. The sample contains a little ASP startup page that allows the PHP application to be informed during the start-up for the location of the work data. For example it may use huge database from a CD or also other resources not packed with the main PHP files in order to save space on the machine. The PHP engine runs as CGI. Unfortunately it seems there is a little bug in the Windows distribution of the PHP which prevents more flexible solutions to be built. For example there is no way to force PHP to run without creating a simple php.ini file - obviously this is needed for pure autoruns (where nor ALP nor PHP is installed on the terget PC)

* The installation is in fact simple copy operation with ability to remove the copied files from the Add/Remove applet.
** The SFX and the ZIP contain the same files the considerable difference in the size is caused only by the fact that WinRAR is much better archiver.

Notes

Adopting an example. Download the ZIP archive of the sample and unpack it in an empty directory. Test it - see how it works where the application resides and replace the sample application with the actual application which will be deployed. See if it needs additional components such as components that are not integral part of ALP or components from other vendors and include them in the setup.cfg (in case of installation). Review the entire setup file and pay special attention to these parts:

  • Base path of your application - common convention is to select something like %PROGRAMFILES%\YourCompany\YourApplication.
  • If you have many additional components to include probably one or two more source aliases will simplify your further work.
  • See if it will make sense to allow the user to select the installation location and add in the ASKDESTIONATION section a dialog definition for the location (s).
  • Define appropriate links to your application in the LINKS section.
  • Select carefully the application signature, log file prefix and uninstall file name (in MAIN and UNINSTALL sections)
  • Review, delete add options in the MAIN section (such as RunOnce, PackageVersion etc.)
  • If localization is needed (or you need to change all the texts shown by the installer) copy the sample entries from the ALP documentation to the TEXT section (subsection of MAIN) and edit them.
  • See if read-me dialogs will be needed - to show license agreement, some information etc.
  • Configure how the application will be started after completing the setup (if desired)

Which samples to download?

If you are going to deploy autorun application

Autorun applications are most likely of two different types:

  • pure autorun - nothing is installed, everything runs from the CD. Catalogues, Presentations, References etc.
  • installed autorun - the application is installed on the PC but the major part of the data (data base, other resources) are still on the CD. E.g. the installation process is short and simple but the CD is required in order to run the application. Encyclopedias, Business applications, Recurring catalogues, other complex systems and hybrid applications (such as WEB/ALP hibrids)

Pure autoruns are not always possible depending on the components the application will use. For example an application that uses many COM objects from different vendors will need to install them first - so installing the application also will not make the install process much longer, nor more complicated. Thus pure autorun limits the technologies allowed to the ALP standard components (ALP objects, ActiveX pack1), ADO (features available in 1.5 or later - MS Access DBs in format compatible with MS Jet 3.5 and later), a few other standard components always available with IE and Windows OS, COM components from us or other vendors especially developed to support ALPFrame in autorun mode.
See samples: ALPAutorunSimple, ALPAutorunDB, AutorunCopy, AutorunInstall, AutorunInstallSmart

Installed autorun is not bound by these limitations and may contain any possible application. Everything missing can be installed.
See samples: ALPInstallCDDB, ALPWithAppInstall, AutorunInstall, AutorunInstallSmart, ALPRedist

What you need to know?

See the ALPInstall or/and ALPFrame branches of ALP documentation (installed with the full ALP package only) and review the sample configurations in the deployment samples of your interest (Note that alpframe.cfg is standard for the non-autorun sample - it is not recommended to change it).

Additional notes

You can use ALPInstall to deploy applications without ALP or even non-ALP applications (even if we permit everyone to use it only the ALP customers will receive support). Also in case you want to prepare autorun CD but installation is unavoidable - you can configure the setup to run once and if the user tries to run it again to start the already installed application (see the ALP documentation).

What causes the limitations of the pure autorun applications? These are programs that shall run on any desktop Windows system beginning from Windows 95. ALP caries wide range of components developed and tested to support all of them and there are certain standard components preinstalled on every system. Beyond that there is no guarantee the component you build (or downloaded) will be preinstalled on all the Windows PCs - contrary you can sure it is not there by default. By design the COM components need registration with the system and without it they are unable to function - so they cannot run from a CD without at least temporary registration. ALPFrame supports simulation of this process through its configuration but it can be used only by COM components written in ATL (using the typeinfoeex.h - see the code snippets on this site), or other components implementing IDispatch in registry independent fashion.

Although the above limitations may look a bit too strict in fact they are common for all the pure autorun systems - there are features supported by the autorun system itself and very limited set of external features that can be accessed. The standard ALP components include wide range of tools - in fact there is support for many non-visual features otherwise available only for C++ or VB applications for example. Many of the autorun CD solutions are built as custom applications that use generic file access to implement data base like functionality. ActiveX Pack 1 includes components for record based access to files and streams and if you want to go that way it is possible and even easier to do in ASP.

If you have questions please contact us.





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