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First look at Microsoft’s Application Virtualization SFT View Tool | March 5, 2010


Associated with their Resource Kit for App-V, Microsoft has released its Application Virtualization SFT File View Tool.

The goal of App-V SFT View is to allow for instance Anti Virus File System scanners to examine the content of SFT files. Also Administrators can use it to have a look into SFT files or to extract files from it.

What does it do?

Essentially, the File View tool is a file system driver that “mirrors” (but not extracts)  the content of an SFT file into a new (virtual) subfolder including files and Registry keys. This allows administrators and applications to examine the content of SFT files without having to extract them with the App-V Sequencer. In short, whenever an application uses Windows APIs to access a folder containing a .sft file, SFTView will add to the API’s answer a new folder called .sft.dir that allow to read-access the SFT’s content.

Think of it as an ISO or VHD mount utility: It does not extract the content of the SFT file but allow to access (and export) at least the files.

Exporting is not exactly possible for Registry objects: Keys are represented by (file) folders inside the .dir, but Values are represented as files. Then the content of such a (value) file represents the actual value… Therefor, you can’t just export the Registry Settings into a .reg file for further processing.

You know may ask:

How does SFT View compares to Kalle Saunamäki’s “SFT Explorer” for SoftGrid and App-V?

Well, both tools allow to have a look into SFT files without opening them on the Sequencer or using any of the Troubleshooting Tips you may know.

SFT Explorer (http://www.virtualapp.net/sft-explorer.html) requires you to actively open a certain SFT file, then you can view and export Files and Registry information (as a .reg file). Also it allows to stack several SFTs at a time to incorporate Dynamic Suite Composition (DSC) effects. And it shows an “actual view” that a Virtual application would have onto the current system. [Furthermore, Kalle has announced to support the User’s PKG files as well – amazing news on his post at http://www.virtualisointi.fi/en/archives/193]

SFT View on the other hand allows every application to access the SFT file’s content. It also works with applications that don’t use Explorer APIs to access the file systems (like 7-zip) and it works on non-NTFS partitions. However, it doe not seem to work on Network shares (at least it did not in my test environment) Also, it does not consume any additional disk space, because the SFTs are not extracted (but mapped).

So, SFT View is perfect for bulk-analysing SFT files (Anti Virus use case), whereas I’d prefer SFT Explorer for Admin Tasks and SFT inspections.

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Posted in App-V, Tools
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