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Coding Towards Utopia...by Rob Reynolds
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Rob Reynolds

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I manage several open source projects. Need...
   ...package management for Windows?
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   ...database change management (migrations)?
   ...your application to check email?
   ...a monitoring utility?

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Windows Live Writer Portable And A Glimpse Into the Future With Portable Applications

Imagine if you will one future for applications.  You walk up to any computer and plug in your 128GB Flash Drive (USB3 or USB4).  You always have your applications with you and suddenly you have access to them through the flash drive. Your documents and files are on the flash drive as well.  You don't have to have an Internet connection and you don't bog down the Operating System (if you use Windows) because you don't have anything but the base install on it. Your applications are very responsive because the communication channel is capable of 4.8Gb/s. When your done with the applications, you unplug your flash drive and move on. You truly take your data with you everywhere.  Your laptop crashes? No problem, just reinstall your OS and move on.  Your Flash Drive crashes? If you back it up, no problem here either.  You just put in a new flash drive and copy/paste your applications/settings/files/data and move along your way.  A simple copy/paste.  That is a much better experience than reinstalling your applications and setting up your settings again.


So right now you have two options in the portable applications world, Portable Apps and U3.  A friend of mine turned me onto Portable Apps a couple of months ago and it totally rocks.  One of the best applications I use with this is Windows Live Writer Portable.  It means I can take my settings to any laptop. I don't have to install on every computer I use and I don't have to set up my settings again on every computer I get on. I also get to carry my drafts and recent posts with me everywhere I go.  Totally rocks!

U3 is pretty established with a bunch of applications, but installing not as intuitive as with Portable Apps.  With Portable Apps, you just add another folder with what you want to recognize the application under and add the application files.  You click refresh in Portable Apps and, viola, you have the application installed.  With U3, each application has a GUID.  It is a pain to know what you are looking at when you are looking at the folders.  It is much easier to install from the U3 piece itself.  Portable Apps can be used on any Flash Drive and it is OSS and that appeals because it is not device dependent. It looks like Microsoft is partnering with SanDisk for development, which could produce interesting results starting in late 2008/early 2009.  Portable Apps has a path for development as well, but neither really have a mature development toolset yet (keep in mind I am making an assumption with U3).

In late 2008 or 2009 when WCF is mainstream and more people have seen the power of VMWare Fusion and have converted to Mac, three things will be in people's minds, rich web applications (that look a lot like full applications), mobile applications, and portable application development.  Portable Applications are really a misnomer with .NET because most applications can be hosted in a portable environment or on a shared network.  A topic may pop up at a Microsoft Conference if U3 becomes popular with Microsoft's backing and there is a need to make applications U3 "aware".  There are some definite things programmers have to do to get an application to work with U3.

This trend will be good as it will get applications out of the registry as much as possible.  I look forward to the day I can have Microsoft Office (Outlook) on a portable drive. 


Update: It looks like getting deeply embedded applications onto a flash drive is a lot closer to coming than I thought.  There are some applications out there that are like Thinstall, which allow applications to be packaged into executable files that are isolated from the computer itself.


Side Note: Virtual PC on a Flash Drive?! With Flash Drive sizes increasing you could put guest operating systems on a flash drive, too (check out reducing VM articles from Jeff Atwood and Scott Hanselman). Imagine having your presentation VPCs ready to go on a flash drive.

Print | posted on Monday, December 24, 2007 1:26 AM | Filed Under [ Personal ApplicationsToysOther ]



# re: Windows Live Writer Portable And A Glimpse Into the Future With Portable Applications

Speaking of Virtual PCs on your Flash Drive:
1/7/2008 2:01 PM | Robz
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