System Center Store

 

Every now and then you get to make something really cool, and recently, it was my turn to get a sip of cool when I produced an awesome tool called ConfigMgr Store. A .Net 4.0 based app written in C# that centralised dozens of tools into one interface, making it easy to download tools, scripts and documentation by just ticking them off and clicking a download button. Removes all that hard work to get your toolset together quickly. I wanted to include more functionality and such, so I went and updated the Store idea to become System Center Store, retiring ConfigMgr Store, and opening up the tool to the rest of the System Center family.

 

System Center Store is a very small application coded by Robert Marshall, that runs by downloading an encrypted Manifest from the Internet. The Manifest is located on an Office365 website run by SMSMarshall Ltd and is XML based, containing the entries for the Store, and basically all the information you see when you use it, the direct download links to the tool and the tools homepage, literally everything.

 

I try to update the manifest regularly, to include updates to the existing entries, as well as adding in new content, and when new content is added it’ll show up in Yellow highlight to indicate its newness.

 

The tool itself only needs to be downloaded once, it has a built-in update mechanism and when I introduce an updated version, the next time yours runs it will automatically prompt you to update by just clicking yes. The tool is so lightweight and easy to download, you can get it whenever you want.

 

I’ve placed Panels around the tool to promote awesome vendors and such like, these are stored in the Manifest as images and links to the vendor landing page. Please, do click through to check them out, I will only allow the panels to be used for System Center related promotion and won’t allow it to become a MySpace animated GIF-fest :-)

 

Download System Center Store here

 

Here’s some shots to show how excellent this all is!

 

The first shot below shows you the Home page, and when the tool is launched it will notify you that it is loading the Manifest from the Internet:

 

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Once the Manifest has been downloaded, the Home page suddenly springs to life with information that is related to System Center, with new entries appearing at the top:

 

 

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The aim of the Home Page is to post offers and news from the System Center industry, such as the Midwest Management Summit (MMS) 10% discount offer currently (at the time of this writing) on offer in System Center Store,

 

Once you’ve checked out the super amazing Home Page to see what’s new, you can click on any of the Product tabs, in the example below I’ve clicked ConfigMgr:

 

 

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Use the Class, Source and Author drop downs to select the type of content you want downloaded, it’ll be ticked under the Download Column for you, in readiness for you to click Download. The UI is primitive at present, the next big version release will have that worked out with filtering and more bells and whistles.

 

You also need to specify a Download Location, if C:\TEMP exists that will be used by default.

 

Once you click Download, the tool will go through the list of content you want downloaded, opening a HTTP session pointed at the direct download link for the content, and storing the binary stream in a file in your download location. There is some structure to the storage, based on Product and then Class.

 

There’s also a pretty cool and growing library of Books available to check out:

 

 

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And a list of Communities related to System Center that you can join in with:

 

 

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If you have created a tool or some pretty cool content that people could be checking out, send me an email rob @ smsmarshall . com and I’ll check it out, add it on the next manifest update cycle.

 

It’s become a really useful tool for me, as I can grab a toolkit quickly when visiting customers without visiting several websites, and without having to bring any removable media with me, which I don’t like plugging in at Customers in case the worst happens. I’m sure there’s going to be a tool or two in there, that you didn’t know existed and now cannot live without!

 

Download System Center Store here