Mar 12, 2013 - 10 Comments - Virtual Vibes -

App-V 5.0 OS Integration – Part 1 – Package Format

In this series of posts I am going to take you behind the scenes of how our packages integrate with our operating system in App-V 5.0.

The most logical place to start is with the package itself and understanding what is output by our Sequencer.


Let’s take this Paint.NET package and try to understand how it is made up.


This file is carried over from our 4.6 SP1 days and contains diagnostic and advisory items around our sequenced package such as any warnings or errors encountered during sequencing or any files that have been excluded.


This file is for user specific changes that can be influenced at the time of publishing a package to a user. For example if we want to deploy a package with different shortcuts or a specific script to a certain group of users.


Similar to the above however this file is for global changes that can be influenced at the time of publishing a package. For example if we want to deploy a package with standard set of shortcuts or a particular script to all users.


The subject of much misconception, this file is not a standalone installer in its own right, it still requires the following .appv file. The .msi will walk users through an installation which essentially will run the PowerShell cmdlets to add the package to the App-V Client in standalone mode.


Saved the best till last, this is our actual package itself. This one file is enough to publish and deploy our package. It contains our applications assets similar to the .sft we had in App-V 4.x but the file format is not so mystic. The .appv format is a container, built off the .appx format (based on the OPC standard) which forms Windows 8 store applications. This means often we can copy and rename the .appv to zip to explore the contents, this is not a supported method of viewing or changing the actual package so please beware.


When we view the inside of .appv we find some really interesting files and folders, lets call some out:


I have previously mentioned this file in my blog around Feature Block 0 – The Publishing Feature Block. It essentially contains how we have optimised the stream of our package and which files are required at which points.


This file is like the passport for the package and contains lots of informational items around its origins. For example in here we can find which user sequenced the package, on which machine and at what time. There are lots of other useful pieces of historical information stored inside this file.


This file contains a list of the files that were captured and make up the package, alongwith the attributes of these files.


This file is the metadata for the package and contains everything we need to publish it. For example not only does it contain the names/GUIDs associated with our package but it also contains things like the file type associations and shortcuts.


Now this file is exactly what you think it is! It is a mountable .dat file containing the registry that was captured as part of the package. To browse this file you can copy it out and mount it in regedit under HKLM.



Now we know how the registry is stored, Root is where we can find the file system. Here we can browse the files that were captured in our package right down to the executable itself.


Now we understand the composition of our App-V 5.0 packages take a look at part two where I will be talking about the File System Cache on the client operating system.

App-V 5.0 OS Integration

Part 1 – Package Format

Part 2 – File System Cache

Part 3 – Registry

Part 4 – State Changes