It has been almost three years since I wrote SVS Best Practices: Layer Creation and Packaging and it has been brought to my attention from both customers and my fellow SE's that this document need to be updated to reflect the changes that have been implemented in Workspace Virtualization. We have introduced the Wise Virtual Composer packaging tool which makes the packaging process easier and also creates streamable packages in a single step. Part 1 will cover Packagintg Setup and Part 2 will cover Special Packaging Considerations.
Packaging Machine Setup
Use a Clean Machine
One of the things that I really like about Workspace Virtualization is that it doesn't require that you use a clean machine for packaging. Because Workspace Virtualization monitors the process that is specified in the capture line, other changes made to the operating system are not captured as part of the layer. This reduces the requirement to capture on a clean machine.
That said use a clean machine (operating system and service packs only) to capture your applications. Unless you have written the installation for the application you are converting to a virtual application, you can never be sure what checks are made to determine whether or not components will be installed or not.
Use Virtual Machine technology for your packaging machine. Install the earliest operating system you need to support, apply all service packs and patches to the OS, then install the Wise Virtual Composer. Once you have completed this step, take a snapshot of the machine so you can easily revert back to this clean machine state.
Operating System Selection
Because Microsoft really does try to maintain backward compatibility with their older operating systems, you should always attempt to create the package on the oldest OS that the layer will be deployed to. After capturing the application on the older OS you should test to make sure that your virtual layer works on the newer operating systems. If the application doesn't work on a new OS (can we all say Vista), see if the application will run natively on that OS. Workspace Virtualization really does run like a natively installed application, so my guess is it probably doesn't run natively installed. Hopefully it is just a matter of setting the appropriate permissions on your layer.
Wise Virtual Composer Considerations
Since my original post, we have developed the Wise Virtual Composer. Wise Virtual Composer has taken the place of the Virtual Package Editor. We have not yet integrated Wise Virtual Composer into Wise Package Studio, but please always use Wise Virtual Composer. The Virtual Package Editor only supports the Software Virtual Solution (SVS) 2.1 virtualization format.
One of the most useful features of Wise Virtual Composer is the use of Templates. There are a number of uses for templates, but the one that is the most relevant to packaging is the ability to set flags during the packaging process. One of the best practices is to make sure to set the Activate On Startup flag. This can now be accomplished with the default template in the Wise Virtual Composer.