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Question for users (and non-users) of Component Designer RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hi,

     

    I am a PM on the Windows Embedded team and am trying to gather some information on the usage (or lack thereof) of custom components. 

     

    I am looking for information on what sort of components people are creating, or if they use components created by others.  What are the strengths and weaknesses of custom components and using Component Designer?

     

    Alternatively, if you do not use Component Designer, why not?  Are there issues with the tool making it difficult to use, or do you simply not require them in your images?

     

    I've tried to leave this as open-ended as possible, as any sort of feedback I can get from XP Embedded users would be valuable.  I am also willing to contact you offline to get your feedback if you'd rather not post in a public forum.

     

    Thanks!

    -Ben
    Thursday, January 15, 2009 6:46 PM

All replies

    • What do you componentized? Drivers? Applications?

     

    We componentize our software package into groups: A "base" group of files that other components need, for example DLL's and registry entries. We also spilt off drivers and applications into groups, if a driver or application is not needed, it is not installed. We have over 60 components, and 6 macros.

     

     

     

    • Do you use macro components? What do you use them for?

     

    We use macro components to allow the end user an easy starting point. For example, if the user is not constrained by image size it might be easier to add the full product. By adding just one macro component, they get all the needed part, and dependencies can be satisfied. The end user can always choose to exclude, in include components, but this allows them a quicker start.

     

     

     

    • Do you share components between developers on a single project?

     

    One developer is responsible for the sld file maintenance.

     

     

     

    • Do you maintain versioning on your custom components?

     

    We change versions along with our non-embedded product line. Component names and version strings are updated to reflect a new product version.

     

     

     

    • What do you love/hate about Component Designer?

     

    As a tester, Component designer was great parsing 3rd party drivers into components that I can add to my database to satisfy the initial pmq file import.

     

    I would love to see a "find" function in component designer. It is often difficult to locate a singe file when I’m not sure what component it is a part of. This is increasingly difficult now that our sld file has over 60 components. I often have to revert to opening the sld file in notepad++ and searching for the filename/registry entry, then finding what component it is under.

     

    We have some components that require some manual configuration. Some windows components have a “Setting” web page; for example click Settings under the “Windows Logon (Standard)” component. In the right panel you can specify things like “Enable Legal Notice before WinLogon:” or set the default username.

    We have been able to disassemble some of the asp and vbs files to give us enough information to create a "Setting" web-page that the user can input their configuration under. This is a very powerful part of the Embedded toolset, and I would like to see it documented and supported.

    Monday, February 2, 2009 5:42 PM
  • As a current Silver Partner Company we have a number of Projects utilizing XPe all on various Hardware Platforms.
    As is the case not all the hardware is supported out of the box and so we have to create our own components

    for this the Component Designer is an invaluable tool for us.

    It allows us to create new componets (Of course), maintain versioning, provide one central point at which to control our growing database of components.

    Not all custom components work well, due to incomplete information from suppliers, or even just mistakes on our part.

    Always on the look out for components created by others and use the xpefiles.com site a lot.

    We tend to create a macro component (Prototype selectable) for our complete units (Panel PC's) etc since as well add custom components to the database we end up with all the hardware fully supported so it makes sense to have this as a one click addition to the image.

    We have over time also developed a standard component that is a selection of dependancies and additional components that will customize a hardware macro component further. This component tends to be a moving one as we get feedback from customers as to what works or does not work for them.

    So on our established Product Line Image creation tends to be a three click process to pull in the components followed by about 10 -15 minutes of customizing the options.

    All of this is thanks to the Component Designer.

     

    Okay the interface is a little clunky and to select individual files requires custom macro searches and such, but overall it does the job and is useable.

    Thursday, February 5, 2009 8:14 AM
    Answerer
  • Note, I use Embedded XP, not the new hotness due to lack of overriding reason to upgrade.
    I don't do anything heroic like others, nice and simple rules the day.


    Component Designer Rocks, though I wish it would be a little more helpful in its error messages when importing some things, usually registry keys. Such as "this sort of registry key is deprecated and unneccessary" or even just "ignoring legacy crufft HKLxyzzy".


    A quick look in my goodie bag shows:
    A component for FTDI usb->rs232 devices (232 and 2232)
    Everyone's favourite KB888111
    Realtek HD Audio
    Intel INF
    nvidia 178.24 (a la Sean Liming)
    Prolific PL2302  usb->rs232
    IO Data USB to PCMCIA doofies
    scala 5 installer
    realtek RTL 8139
    realtek RTL 8111? (Gbe)
    ATI HDMI Audio driver (Realtek thing, abandoned, was done merely as a proof we could use the hardware)
    Intel onboard HDMI driver (G33?)
    generic yukon
    atheros L1 and L2 drivers

    I think I made a
    microsoft livecam vx6000 one
    I probably made a few others for some people, if I have the hardware to hand, I enjoy the challenge.

    Where it does fall down:
    I have 40 different things, all variations on a theme in my "alice.sld" eg,
    madhatter1, madhatter2, ...
    boojum1,
    snark1,
    cheshirecat2,
    borogrove1,
    ...

    I want to be able to select them all and do things like "set repository to lookingglace" in one swell foop.
    Editing them individually causes pain and encourages mistakes and we know how the Queen of Hearts
    takes to that.

    Now for some topic drift:

    About the supplied system components.
    Many components, the descriptions are bleak, borderline useless.
    Someone can't spell. (understandable when creating hundreds of components, you aren't going to care.)
    Some 90% of the hardware I would class as "antique that I am never likely to see." I wish there was a way to banish it to never-ever land.

    Dependency ____. Some components drag in garbage that I really don't want to have hanging around. This affects me less than others since we use an 80g drive. Why must I have any sort of printing what so ever for a digital sign.

    And then there is Comic Sans, nothing personal, I just hate it.

    Thank you for reading this far!



    =^x^=
    • Edited by P 'Bunny' E Friday, April 10, 2009 11:02 AM remembered something
    Friday, April 10, 2009 10:52 AM
  • Having already created components for drivers and applications (our company's own as well as third party) I have to say I really like component designer.
    One of our current projects is already in a form that only a single (macro-)component needs to be added in target designer. Upon resolving dependencies it will automatically include all required components and configure the runtime image so no further settings need to be made before building.

    However, what we're really missing is documentation of the component scripting interface as well as script debugging support.
    Most of the time required for creating advanced components goes into creating and debugging of their scripts, as the only way is try and error.
    Tuesday, July 28, 2009 2:20 PM