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Creating a Launchpad Add-In

Published: December 17, 2010

Updated: October 17, 2013

Applies To: Windows Home Server 2011, Windows Server 2012 Essentials, Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials, Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials

The Launchpad is an application that displays a list of tasks that are organized in categories. You can extend the functionality of the Launchpad by adding your own tasks and categories. A task is represented by a Web page or an application. A category represents a collection of related tasks. A category button on the Launchpad displays an arrow that indicates the existence of tasks in the category.

Setting up the development environment

Before you start to create your Launchpad add-in, you can download and install the Windows Server Essentials Add-in Templates into Visual Studio. As with other templates, the WSS LaunchPad template provides a number of shortcuts to decrease development time.

  1. Confirm that you have installed the Windows Server Essentials SDK.

  2. In Visual Studio, click Tools, and then click Extensions and Updates….

  3. On the Extensions and Updates dialog, click Online, and then search for “Windows Server”.

  4. In the results pane, click on Windows Server Essentials Add-In Templates, and then click Download.

  5. On the Installation dialog, click Install, and then click Close.

  6. The WSS LaunchPad template should now be available through the New Project dialog, under the Templates directory.

You can develop a Launchpad add-in on your own development computer or you can develop a Launchpad add-in on a test client computer. You add new tasks and categories to the Launchpad by using an XML file with a .launchpad extension. You can install the .launchpad file on the client computer directly, or you can embed the .launchpad file in a resource-only DLL file. The examples in this section use Visual Studio 2010 to create the necessary XML code and embed it in a resource-only DLL file. You are provided the following benefits by using a resource-only DLL file:

  • The text in the XML code can be localized, which enables strings in the .launchpad file to be deployed in multiple languages.

  • You can control modifications that are made to the XML code.

Creating the Launchpad add-in file

Before you start to create your Launchpad add-in, you must define the tasks that are needed and the categories in which the tasks will be located. See the following subsection for information about how to create the files that are needed for a Launchpad add-in:

Installing the Launchpad add-in file

After you create the .launchpad file and optionally create the embedded resource file that contains your add-in information, you must place a copy of either the .launchpad file or the .dll file in the appropriate location on the client computer. You must restart the Launchpad to completely install the add-in.

To install the file on the client computer

  1. If you chose to embed the .launchpad file in a resource-only DLL file, copy the .dll file and language folders to %ProgramFiles%\Windows Server\Bin\LaunchPad on the client computer.

  2. If you chose not to create a resource-only DLL file, copy the .launchpad file to %ProgramFiles%\Windows Server\Bin\LaunchPad on the client computer.

  3. Close the Launchpad by right-clicking the Launchpad icon and selecting Exit.

  4. Start the Launchpad and then verify that your tasks are displayed.

You can deploy the files for a Launchpad add-in by performing the steps listed in Creating and Deploying an Add-In Package. This add-in package can then be downloaded and run on any client computer that can communicate with the server. By completing this process you can ensure that all client computers that communicate with the same server receive this add-in.

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