The application estate is one of the most diverse entities that exist in corporations and large organisations. You will have everything from the world’s most commonly used software programmes to niche applications to apps that have been developed specifically for your organisation. You will also have applications that don’t have shortcuts.

These are applications that don’t have a path to a folder, .EXE file, or similar launch method. Some of the most common examples are Excel .XLA and .XLM files. Both add functionality and capabilities to Excel (.XLA files add new modules or functions while .XLM files are macros that enable workflow automation) which means Excel needs to be running for these types of applications to launch.

In normal day-to-day operations, this isn’t much of a hurdle to overcome. When working on a large IT project that involves the repackaging, testing, and deployment of thousands of applications (such as a VDI or Windows 11 migration project), the existence of applications without shortcuts can bring back dark memories.


The Last Pick

The analogy that will be most recognisable is childhood sporting teams, but similar situations can occur with drama productions, team-based school projects, and other group activities that children participate in where there is a selection process. The dark memory that was mentioned earlier is the dread of being the last pick.

It’s a common scenario, where the coach selects two people to be captains or leaders who then take turns to choose who they want to be on their team:

  • The physically, creatively, or academically gifted are selected first – in our analogy, these are usually the most commonly used applications in business, so are typically the most compatible with automated packaging, testing, and deployment tools.
  • Those considered average are selected next, in order of ability – for our analogy, this would include more niche applications and those that are unique to your organisation. These are the applications that are probably compatible with automated packaging, testing, and deployment, but some could pose problems that require manual intervention.
  • The dreaded last pick is the player, performer, or student that neither captain really wants – the applications that have no shortcuts.

Applications with no shortcuts are all too often left out when it comes to automated processes in large-scale IT projects and other tasks where at-scale app packaging, testing, and deployment are required. As a result, they generally have to be manually configured and tested.

At Access IT Automation, we’re an inclusive bunch, so we embrace applications without shortcuts alongside all other applications in your estate.


How It Works

Right, let’s leave the analogy behind along with any unsettling memories it might stir, and get onto instead the productivity benefits of automating processes for applications without shortcuts. This applies most commonly to testing processes, including smoke testing the app, add-on, or macro to ensure it works with the repackaged application or new desktop instance.

The TL:DR version is that our team at Access IT Automation will configure the setup of Access Capture to enable the automated testing of applications that don’t have a shortcut.

For a bit more detail, here’s how the process works:

  • Access Capture can be configured to support various file types and the applications that are needed so those file types can run. For example, .XLA and .XLM files would be in the table with Excel as the application that is required to successfully run them.
  • Access Capture spins up a virtual machine when going through its automated testing routine. Access Capture will then look for the content (shortcut/s) of the applications to be tested and will reference the configuration and file to application mapping if a shortcut or .EXE doesn’t exist.
  • Access Capture will then launch the application listed in the configuration mapping before running the add-on or macro to complete the smoke test.
  • A video record of the entire process is saved for future reference.

When it Comes to Productivity, It’s the Details That Count

Applications that don’t have shortcuts will be in a minority in your application estate. However, at Access IT Automation, we believe the details count, so we constantly work to deliver automation solutions that are as all-encompassing as possible. This is why including applications without a shortcut in the capabilities of Access Capture was an easy enhancement to make. To discuss your application management needs and to get more information, please get in touch.

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