What is the hardest part of application packaging? It’s not what you think

The application packaging process is what can be best described as a
“series of concurrent technical IT processes required to deliver applications in a controlled, consistent and high quality manner, suitable for automated application deployment tools or services.”
Or,
“the process that companies and organizations use to deliver software onto the devices of required users.
 
Or maybe more simply , “a process where an installer is created”
 
However you define the packaging process, you need to start somewhere. Once you go beyond the technical considerations of application packaging, things get more complex. Application packaging is not a just a technical process, it is a set of logistical and technical processes that deliver application services to the targeted users.
 
If you think that application packaging about is about:
 
 
Well… you have just started.
 
I consider application packaging as an ongoing service for delivering application requirements to specified devices. The devil is in the details.
 
In fact, the more you work in the application packaging and conversion space you realize that packaging is not a technical endeavour, but an organization-level process challenge. 
 
This challenge includes a number of steps including:

 
  • Discovery
  • Snap-shot and Tuning
  • Packaging and Conversion
  • Validation and QA
  • Testing and UAT
  • Publishing
  • Updates and ongoing management (BAU)
 
 
 
 
Avoiding the pit-falls of “garbage in, garbage out“, the first task of application packaging project process is to gather (and collate) application requirements.
 
These requirements can include:
 
  • dependencies and prerequisites
  • license and usage information
  • tuning and customization
  • deployment requirements
  • testing details
 
We call this part of the requirements building process: Discovery.
 
We have worked hard over the past few years to incorporate (do, document and then codify) the many challenges with not gathering these application specific requirements, but ensuring the requirements are included in every part of the application packaging process. Discovery details, and testing data is used to validate each stage of the process from initial application install, tuning and configuration, generating an installer package (pick your flavour) to ensuring what is delivered through to the final user acceptance testing stage.

 

These lessons learned and packaging experience are now included in the Readiness packaging tool-set.
 
Our latest version includes the following new features:
 
  • Integration with ServiceNow
  • Automated dependency and pre-requisite analysis
  • Automated recording (PDF or video)
  • Output can be used for application packaging
  • Shareable online platforms allow for distributed Discovery
 
 
 
 
 
I have included a snap-shot of a sample Discovery process for FileZilla.
 
One of the key elements here, is that our Discovery process automatic
ally analyses each installation (sometimes it needs several recursive attempts) to build out all of the dependencies and prerequisites to ensure when a user starts the process, the application is fully ready to install.
 
The process generates either a package snap-shot or a PDF containing a screen-shot of each captured step. Or, both.
 
This process allows to capture the installation process AS WELL as the testing process. Ensuring that each stage of the packaging process includes a fully tested, fully validated application package. 

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