Posted By J.T. Kimbell
Building on the news that a release preview of Windows Embedded 8 Standard is available, we thought it was time to take a closer look at image creation. We’ve asked Dave Massy, Senior Program Manager on Windows Embedded Standard, to share some helpful guidelines on and efficient use of templates and Application Support Modules.
Windows Embedded 8 Standard provides two flexible ways to define parts of the system you are building for reuse from the toolkit. This allows you to build operating system (OS) images more efficiently as you can define an aspect of the image you are building and make it available to use again and share with others.
I wanted to cover Templates and Application Support Modules that are provided with Windows Embedded 8 Standard and how you can include your own and build a library of reusable steps for building an operating system image.
Templates are provided for use with Image Builder Wizard (IBW) as starting points for projects. They can be opened in Image Configuration Editor (ICE) to start projects as well.
Application Support Modules are modules in the catalog that can be included in an image and provide support for a particular application.
Templates for Starting a Project
In IBW, as you step through the process of creating an image you will reach a template selection screen that looks like this:
You have the choice of not using a template. In that case you start off with a basic Windows Embedded 8 Operating System image. We supply three templates as starter projects that provide a full featured image targeted for a specific purpose - digital sign, retail and thin client. You can use the View Template option to see what modules are included in the highlighted template and also use the help system included with the toolkit for a full description of the templates.
There is also the option to browse to another location for templates. As these templates are xml answer files you can save any project of your own and use it as a template. This can be useful if you have a base configuration you use for a lot of systems.
The templates are included as part of the catalog, typically C:\Windows Embedded Catalog\6.2\9200.16384\x86\Templates\IBW for x86 systems. Adding an answer file to that location will add that project to the list of available templates available in IBW.
These templates can also be used in ICE as starter projects using the File->Open Configuration File… option.
What are Application Support Modules?
Application Support Modules are modules in the catalog that can be used to ensure that a particular application can be supported by the image. As applications depend on certain functionality within the operating system these modules define the dependencies so that you can be sure the application will function when it is included in the image. In the catalog in ICE you can see an entry for Application Support:
These modules are supplied as part of the catalog for applications such as Silverlight 5 to be included. It is important to note that these modules do not include the application itself. That must be obtained separately for inclusion in the image.
The provided Application Support Modules reflect a few of the common applications that might be included in an image. You can add further modules using the Dynamic Dependency Analyzer and Module Designer tool from the toolkit.
If you are familiar with Windows Embedded Standard 7 then it is useful to understand that the Application Support Modules take the place of the template for application support that were available in Standard 7. With the introduction of a flexible module architecture in Windows Embedded 8 Standard it is now possible to define modules that can be included in the catalog when building an image, so they replace the need for the applications templates in Standard 7.
In Windows Embedded 8 Standard there are two ways to extend the toolkit for building Operating System images.
Templates are starter projects for help in getting started with a functional OS image. You can use your own projects to extend the templates available by default with the toolkit.
Application Support Modules offer support for additional applications so that when building an image you can be sure that a particular application will function correctly when installed.
Although related in concept, templates and application support modules satisfy different needs and requirements but allow you to add to the toolkit so that building images can be efficient and flexible.