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Implementing SPA into your applications

Unfortunately, newly created applications cannot just follow this standard and start releasing zip files instead of installers. The reason for this is that inexperienced computer users might find zip files hard to manage. Also, they expect all newly in stalled applications to appear on their desktop and in their start menu. There is a way, however, to create an application that follows this standard while still acting like non SPA-compliant applications.

When developing an application, the only thing a developer need worry about is making his or her application SPA-compliant. When creating an installer for his or her application however, the developer will need to do the following:

  1. Install the application to c:\application\appname instead of c:\program files\appname. Of course c: is the user's home drive (%homedrive%) and appname is the name of the directory where the application's contents are stored. The reason for installing to c:\applications instead of c:\program files is so that an application launcher can be configured to search in a directory containing only applications written for the SPA.
  2. The installer should parse the directory file and place all of the icons specified in this file into the start menu. If the installer is not able to parse a directory file, the developer can manually enter these icons. This allows users who do not have an application launcher to still have easy access to the application.
  3. The icon specified in the [main] section of the directory file should be placed on the desktop. The resource found in the [main] section of the directory file should always point to the main component of the application, Most likely the resource that should have a shortcut pointing to it on the desktop.

If the developer chooses, he or she can also put an icon in the start menu pointing to an application launcher or a page explain why the SPA is beneficial to the end-user. Of course, this is optional.

A good application launcher is necessary to make this standard work. Application launchers should be easy to use, conform 100% to the standard, and let the user choose which directory for the launcher to parse. This way, the user can point the application launcher at their portable application's directory on their removable storage drive, or wherever they wish to store their portable applications. Every launcher should default to showing applications stored in %homedrive%\applications, the default place to store portable applications.

If Microsoft wishes to easily support the SPA as well as their legacy start menu system, they can keep the start menu's functionality the same, but support the SPA by creating an applications menu off of the main start menu. When the user enters the applications menu, the contents of %homedrive%\applications are shown just as an application launcher would show them.

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