Friday, October 14, 2011

IE Deployed For Testing

As I mentioned yesterday we are testing an idea to make it easier for those users that need IE to just click on links in Evolution and have it work. Initial code has been pushed to our Beta GNOME Desktop and is being reviewed. You have 10 seconds to request IE after clicking on a link via a small dialog in the lower right hand corner. In the shot below, I requested IE and it used the email link. FF always launches and is sitting behind.

So how best to get the URL to Windows from Linux? Here is the technique we used, low tech and simple...which means it will work. :) This snippet of code is from the python/glade UI. It takes the URL and writes it to a file in a temporary folder. Multi-user systems need file names that will never clobber one another, so we use $USER. We then simulate them clicking on IE from GNOME via the command line. This ensures that all licenses are checked and also that we log the launch of the software.

On the Windows side of things, the .bat file looks for the file written out from python. If it's there it uses it, otherwise it just opens IE on the users configured home page.

Now to send out email to the user and alert them of the change and await feedback.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Integrating IE Into GNOME & Firefox

One of the things that has improved greatly over the last 5 years is the number of web sites that are now more compliant to standards. We used Netscape and Firefox on SCO Unix and then Linux through the years and there were always sites that just failed to work. In those cases we had to give people licenses for Internet Explorer on Windows. In this last upgrade to IE 8, we are down to 12 people out of 800 that need IE. WooHoo.

One of the sites that won't work is when our users have to do Webinars/Webex. The bad part has always been that the links come in email and are clicked. This of course opens Firefox on Linux. The users then had to copy and paste the link over to IE and away they would go. Sub-optimal obviously. So how best to handle this for those 12 users? Having a dialog appear to ask which browser you want to use is clunky, and very few sites really need IE anymore. So I'm developing a solution that promotes users using Firefox first and then dropping back to IE as a fallback. When they click on a link in email, it launches Firefox as always. Then based on $USER it knows if you have an IE license and gives you a secondary popup windows (circled in blue) for 10 seconds. If you do nothing, it goes away. From this dialog, you are able to select IE if needed and the URL is then going to be passed to Windows; and RDP will delivery the browser. This only happens if you click on a link in email, not when you just launch the Firefox icon.

I installed this rough code to get an idea of how the users will like the functionality. I'm pleased with the results and it seems like it will work well.