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vb.net on thin client

Posted on 2009-05-09
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Last Modified: 2012-05-06
Hello Experts,

I have an opportunity to develop an application but I have major concerns and I need your help.  

The type of application that I need to write I have done in the past 20 times so I am very comfortable in all aspects except for one.  The customer is running in a "Thin Client" environment.

I tried to asked the customer some specifics but i did not want to sound like i had no idea what i was talking about.

There are going to be about 7-8 thin clients and each will have a com port.  My app will have to communicate with a device over that com port.  As I said I have done this before but never on a thin client.  I understand the concept of how a thin client system works but i have never developed an application for that environment.

Are there things that need to be done during development to handle this thin client environment that is different from running in a normal XP install?  In regards to the serial port and just in general.

This is not Citrix Terminal Service but the customer said the... host.. server... (not sure what you call the machine that does the virtualization) is running Windows Server 2003.

I have to talk with a 2005 SQL Server which should be no issue for me.  i will be writing the software in vb.net 2008.

Can you provide some information for me?  I am just concerned and I do not want to take on an application before i know if i can handle it.

Thanks for your help.  Sorry i did not form my question very well.
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Question by:n88n
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4 Comments
 
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Expert Comment

by:davismisbehavis
ID: 24345576
I think you will need to ask what kind of desktop virtualisation they're doing.  You say it's not Citrix but it may be plain simple Terminal Services on Windows 2003,  this is very similar to Citrix,  Citrix just adds additional functionality on top of the basic Terminal Services.

If they're not using Terminal Services I can't think what they'd be doing with a windows 2003 server to provide thin client delivery.

You will need to get specifics out of the client,  gaining the proper insight before starting the work will save you time in the long term.  Imagine you didn't ask,  spent weeks developing a prototype and when you come to test it it fails miserably.  Never be scared to ask questions,  makes you look like a better consultant I'd say, trying to understand a customers exact needs is what it's all about.

www.virtualpro.co.uk 
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Author Comment

by:n88n
ID: 24346191
great thanks for responding.  

I am not afraid to ask questions, but I felt as if I did not even know what questions to ask.  That is why I was hesitant as I did not even know what to ask or maybe more correctly how to word my questions.

what type of questions should i ask the client to get a solid understanding of their environment?  

If it is Terminal Services does that change the way I would code in vb.net in comparison to an XP desktop?  Does that effect my coding and communication to the com port?  

thanks!


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Accepted Solution

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davismisbehavis earned 2000 total points
ID: 24347174
I'm not a developer lets make that clear first of all.

From my Citrix background the main things to consider are DLLs and Registry entries around the HK Current User,  primarily because this is a multi-user environment and your application needs to be Termnal Services Aware.  I did a quick search and found the following which makes it sound quite simple. http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms925760.aspx

The Comm port stuff maybe where it will get tricky as the virtualisation of local ports has always been a nightmare area.  If you think that the user has something plugged into Com1 port,  how does the terminal server see it if it has 7 or 8 of these supposed local ports to deal with.  This is an area you'll have to test to ensure everything functions,  ideally you want to load test the connectivity of all comm port devices.  

I'm going to presume that they're using RDP to connect to it,  you may want to look at how the Microsoft Terminal Services Client (Remote Desktop) deals with connecting local ports to the remote server
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Author Comment

by:n88n
ID: 24351065
Thanks for explaining some more.  You touched on a couple of things that really cleared it up for me.  You mentioned Terminal Service and Remote Desktop.  The customer mentioned that but i did not understand how Remote Desktop fit into everything.

So if the Host is running Windows 2003 does that mean each thin client will in turn run Win2003?  Probably a stupid question but I was not sure if it was possible to serve an XP OS for the clients.

I need to do some more work to understand the coding side and your point about the different com ports is exactly what concerned me.  I have been surprised by the lack of info on the web about this topic.

thanks for your help.
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