hopTo – add mobile experience to your Citrix Apps
From time to time you run into companies that have very interesting products, hopTo is one of those companies. At first you think they are a new company but they aren’t, they are there already a couple of years. Today they offer a very interesting product that will help companies merge to the mobile experience.
In short they deliver the mobile experience for Windows and IE apps and enable the touch experience for those kind of apps. Still don’t get it? 😉 They make your legacy Windows apps or IE apps running on you Citrix server touchable and port them to e.g. an iPad. Your employees will be able to use their new shiny iPad to access your legacy Windows apps running on your Citrix silo. Pretty cool, right?
What is this solving?
Guess some are now thinking what does it solve, do we need this? Fair question…. there is a lot of talk about the world going mobile, in 2018, 80+ % of all devices sold in 2018 will be mobile is the word on the street. We hear people say that in this new era employees will work on a mobile device instead of a (VDI) desktop. That might be true for a niche group of employees but not for the 90% of people still working with the hundreds of legacy Windows apps that are not web-enabled. As long as we can’t port those legacy Windows apps to a web app and make them usable for mobile devices (VDI) desktops aren’t going anywhere.
What did they do?
So hopTo solved this, they have created a way for your employees to access the Windows / IE apps toolbar from a mobile device. This is actually pretty hard to do, we all know that those small toolbars in the Windows apps are hard to work with from e.g. an iPad. Everyone who ever started a VDI desktop connection on an iPad knows that feeling panning and zooming to click on that one toolbar item. Windows apps deployed through a VDI desktop accessed from an iPad just isn’t the best workable option.
So what did they create? They created a solution that allow you to use Windows apps on an iPad or Android without the burden of trying to get to the menus of the application. This features is called MAX, the Mobile Application eXperience, it offers unprecedented mobile experience for Windows apps. A separate toolbar offers all the keyboard shortcuts the Windows app works with. This allows you to access all functionality from the application running on a Citrix server but on a mobile device. They map the keyboard shortcuts to the toolbar so that you can easily access the functions like File/Open with e.g. CTRL-F and CTRL-O baked into a toolbar. Later on in the article you will see how that is done and in part 2 of this article you will see how it works in RL.
I’m gonna show you how it works in two parts, the first part will be about the configuration. The second part will be about the experience.
Setting it up
To get hopTo to work you need to setup the agent on the Citrix environment. your Citrix environment consists of a couple of controllers and a bunch of hosts. The controllers run Studio to manage the environment and the hosts run the VDA and enable you to publish applications or a desktop.
First we install the agent on the Controller.
The installation is basic and straight forward, next art the screenshots but I don’t think any comment is needed there.
After the installation is completed you will notice that a new application is installed on the server, the hopTo control panel has been added. Click on the icon to start the configuration of hopTo and connect it with Citrix.
Connect to Citrix
First we connect to installation to the Citrix environment, In the menu you select Citrix (which has a Microsoft symbol for some reason) and log on to the controller.
After you click OK, hopTo will authenticate to the Citrix controller and read about all the applications that are published. If you published application through Citrix and the authentication went well, you will see the applications in the hopTo control panel.
Next step is to create the mapping of the touch keyboard with the application. Of course this is easier said than done, I don’t have instant knowledge of all the keyboard mapping of applications. If was looking for the keyboard shortcuts for mspaint and found a site that listed them all – http://www.guidingtech.com/15171/ms-microsoft-paint-keyboard-shortcuts/ .
So with that list in hand I’m ready to start MAX, the Mobile Application eXperience Editor. In the menu just below Citrix Max can be found. Pick the application you want to map with MAX and start editing.
So I picked MSPaint, Microsoft Paint. A simple application that has more options than expected. If you see the shortcuts on the site I mentioned before you know there is more to MSPaint than just a simple paint program. So after I clicked Edit toolbar we end up in the this screen where we can create the menu.
At first I add a new menu called File. I thought it might be a menu that you would like to access frequently. Under file there is Open en New so it seems logical. so Add the menu item and hit the keyboard to enter the combination. Any hit on your keyboard will be registered, I at first hit CTRL-O and thought I was doing something wrong so I hit backspace… the entry read CTRL-O BckSpce which of course was not what I wanted. So I changed it to CTRL-O and clicked Add.
So that’s all you need to do to map the keyboard to the applications. Now the next step is to install the agent on the Citrix host.
There is nothing different to installing the agent on the host compared to the controller. so I’m skipping the installation part here and hop right to the configuration. If you look there you see that you select whether you are on the host or on the controller. This is the host so I select the first option and enter the server name there.
Next step is to edit the licensing on the Citrix host, The controller where you installed the agent is the license server for hopTo. So in the control panel under Licensing you select Other Computer and enter the name of the controller. Click on Test Connection to check if it all works.
Once you’ve done all this, you are ready to deploy the client to the iPad and test your configuration. My next blog will be about the experience and how you install the client on the iPad. In the next blog I will also talk about licensing etc.
Of course you are wondering is Citrix not offering this? the answer is no they are not, they of course are working on the receiver to make working with Windows apps easier. They added a virtual mouse that allows you to click on the menu item but it’s just not as freaking cool as what hopTo is offering. I think Citrix came a long way in offering what they offer now, hopTo in my opinion just adds that little extra to make life easier. Let’s see how this develops in the future, I think hopTo might be a nice add-on for Citrix environments.