Category: Application Packaging Standard

Setting up Eclipse IDE for APS Packaging

To get started with APS packaging, you will need following things:

• Eclipse IDE : To develop/create packages
• Parallels Plesk Panel: To test the package at the local instance for functionalities
• APS Certification System subscription: To judge the certification level of package created.

In this particular post, I will take you through the process of installing Eclipse and use it for debugging.

Download Eclipse IDE

You can download Eclipse from the URL:

http://www.zend.com/en/community/pdt/downloads

On the page that gets displayed,

Eclipse_Download

Download Zend Eclipse PDT.

This is the most efficient and well equipped Eclipse IDE that you can use for APS packaging.

Create the APS environment in Eclipse

Once you are done downloading Eclipse, extract and open Eclipse.

Click on Help menu, select Install New Software…

APS_Ecl2

In the “Work With” location bar, enter following URL.

http://www.apsstandard.org/r/doc/sdk/eclipse-plugin

It will eventually display the APS Plug in to install. Check select APS.

Complete the wizard to install the APS Plug in.

Create separate perspective for APS

From the Window Menu, select open perspective. Click Other…

Select APS from the list.

APS_Ecl3

You will be presented with APS perspective.

Here you can start your APS packaging.

Creating your simple APS package using template

To get started with APS packaging, let us create a sample package using a template.

Make sure you are in the APS perspective.

From New menu, select new Project…

You will be presented with a wizard.

APS_Ecl4

Select APS Project, click Next.

On the next screen, give the project a name. From the available radio buttons, select New Project from Template.

From the templates, select Sample_Package_with_License-1.2.1.app

Click Finish so that you are presented with the newly created package.

Start debugging the scripts

For the scripts to be debugged, you need to use the APS Player feature.

Click on the APS player from the Run menu. It will start a new session, where you have to enter the environment variables necessary for the application to run.

That is all for now, will be back with more in APS packaging. This is very crucial article as far as development is concerned, so feel free to ask any questions!  🙂

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Introduction to Application Packaging Standard (APS)

Application Packaging Standard gives a medium to package your Software-as-a-service (Saas) application. I got a nice experience of working with such packages and thought it would be good to blog it out!

First off, I would like to create a scenario where you have a web application, which can be deployed to a panel which will be handling your application. So, in such scenario, the package, when deployed, will be working as per your requirement.

In my case, I used Parallels Plesk Panel to achieve the purpose. I had to download it from the website, and install it on my local machine so that I was able to install the packages that I am going to develop.

In my case, I was more than curious to have my IIS-based application on the Plesk panel, so I installed the Plesk panel with ASP.NET support as well as SQL Server Database support.

Having created a scenario for installing and deploying the APS package, we will go through a short but important explanation of APS package.

An APS package is basically a simple compressed package, with an extension .app.zip. It is important to note that creating a mere compressed package will not work; it should follow some standards which are provided at the APS website.

Introduction to APS Specification

It provides a set of rules to be followed by a package in order that the package will be APS compliant. I will just borrow some material from APS website as an illustration to the things I am going to explain.

Following figure from the APS specification page clearly illustrates the package contents.

Img

I will go into details of each entity.

APP-META.xml

This file is responsible for keeping a track of following elements.

Application Information
  • General information: application name, version, change log, etc.
  • Vendor information: name, website, etc.
  • Packager information: characteristics of package manufacturer. It also includes a very important field, called package uri, which must be kept unique as far as each version/release of the application is concerned.
  • It also includes summary, category & description of the application and screenshots for the application.

These things are covered under application information element.

Services
  • Each application offers some service to its users. These services are specified in the services element.
  • There can be a license agreement, settings for service instance, control elements to be added to the user interface included in the services element.
  • Settings for service instance can also be included in the services element.

The APP-META.xml file follows simple xml schema architecture for the structure.

APP-LIST.xml

This particular file is responsible for keeping a track of all the files and folders present in the package. More importantly, this file also conveys useful information about each file in the package as far as hash value, size of the file is concerned. This is very important so as to track the changes in each file as various packages can be issued for any given application.

Scripts

This folder involves all the scripts which are necessary for an application package to work.

The important and very first file responsible for overall installation and functioning of the package is configure file. This file is included in the scripts folder, which is thereby invoked at the time of installation.

You can also insert the SQL scripts in the folder as declared in the configure file. I will be taking your through a detailed package creation tutorial, where you will actually get an exposure so as to how to create a package which is APS complaint, more or that later.

In the end, for a proper functioning of your package, the steps or the scripts are invoked by using files in this folder.

Images

This folder takes care of the branding of the package.

All the icons and screenshots are packed in this folder. Icons, particularly for an application, which are visible on the panel where you will be uploading the apps, are redirected from this folder.

The icons of packager, vendors are also present in this particular folder.

Htdocs

This is very crucial and important folder of the package, where you will put all your application files.

Particularly speaking, considering an example of a simple IIS-hosted web application, the published files are kept here in the folder.

This was all about a short and simple description about how the APS packages are and how they exist.

In the proceeding posts, I will take you through the environment for APS packages in detail.