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Author: Created: Tuesday, September 09, 2008 2:46:36 PM
Everything related to Royal TS
By Stefan Koell on Monday, July 04, 2011 2:41:32 PM

iconAs of today, Royal TS 1.7.3 – purely a maintenance release, is available for download. Just download and install the .msi file. It will update your existing Royal TS 1.7.x installation and replace Royal TS on your machine.

The main reason for this release is a very rare bug in the tree view. The tree view vendor could identify the issue after some investigation and he was able to fix the bug. Royal TS would hang/eventually crash when the tree needs to draw scrollbars. This could happen when you expand a folder with lots of connections in it or if you start Royal TS with a file which has many connections causing the tree to draw the scrollbars immediately. As I mentioned, this hang/crash is affecting only a small number of users. If you are one of these, I recommend to upgrade immediately.

We registered 60 000 downloads for Royal TS 1.7.x since it was released 5 months ago and there were only 5 users reporting this issue.

By Stefan Koell on Sunday, May 01, 2011 9:28:49 AM

There are a lot installer products and frameworks out there. We decided to use Advanced Installer after some evaluation. Let me share some thoughts and findings of what we’ve tested and how we came to this decision:

Free Products/Framework:

  • Visual Studio MSI Project
    We used the built-in MSI project of Visual Studio for a long time with Royal TS and LogSmith. Since it’s shipped with Visual Studio it’s natural, that this is your first stop when you are looking for a packaging solution of your Visual Studio project. To be clear here, Visual Studio MSI projects are very limited and it’s almost a shame for MS to not ship a better solution out-of-the-box. We reached our limits and needed to create complicated workarounds to achieve our goals so we needed to look for a better solution.
  • InstallShield Limited Edition for Visual Studio
    Obviously MS decided to stop investments in Visual Studio MSI project features so they decided to partner with Flexera and offer a limited edition which also integrates with Visual Studio but that’s all positive to say about the product. It’s also very limited in terms of features.
  • WiX Framework
    The most commonly known free solution is the WiX framework which is essentially an XML based framework to declare and compile MSI packages. It’s Microsoft first open source framework ever released and it’s very mature. It’s driven by some MS employees and they did an awesome job here. WiX was our favorite for a long time during the evaluation but we realized soon that there were three problems for us with WiX:
    1. While the roadmap looked promising, at the time of the evaluation the really cool features with all the VS 2010 support took quite some time to make it into the framework.
    2. It has a really steep learning curve.
    3. There is no UI and you have to write all the XML yourself. This is time consuming and error prone…
    We decided to look further but always kept an eye on that solution.
  • Advanced Installer (Free Edition)
    Yes, there’s also a free edition of AdvancedInstaller but that’s not the reason why we use it. The free edition offers a lot considering the non-existing price tag. In fact it’s offering much more than the Visual Studio MSI project. Most freeware authors might be satisfied with the feature set of the free edition.

Commercial Products:

  • InstallShield 2011
    Evaluation of InstallShield was very quick. It’s surely the most commonly known MSI packager out there but the price/performance ration is just ridiculous. Besides that, it has also a steep learning curve. The website is just boring, you are beaten to death with countless texts to read, no real screenshots, to get a feeling what the product looks like you have to download endlessly long PDF files. Those files were also very helpful with the decision to NOT further look into that product as it seemed way to complicated…
  • Advanced Installer
    In short: Great price/performance ratio, very easy to use and a great support.

    The free edition offers almost everything you need for standard software deployment. The professional edition (currently USD 299) can handle much more (like IIS, COM, ODBC, mixed 32/64 bit packages and much more). Even when you go for the enterprise edition it will not break the bank! So, the price/performance ratio was attractive and kept us looking into it.

    The next thing which struck us right away was the amazingly ease of use. We literally didn’t even open the help file or documentation once and got a working MSI package within 20 minutes. This was just awesome! The UI is very intuitive and you immediately get the right results.

    I’ve never had any technical issues with AdvancedInstaller (which is good), so I didn’t contact their technical support yet but I had some product and licensing questions which were answered promptly and friendly. Caphyon also offers an online forum for users to report bugs and asks questions. For me it’s very important to that software companies offers a platform like this. It helps me to get a feeling what issues users have, how the company is responding to those issues and how the company reacts to criticism. You can learn a lot about the product and the company by just studying their forums.

What about other products?

I’m well aware that there are many other products out there which can do the same. We were lucky to hit the nail quickly and weren’t really forced to continue to evaluate. As soon as we got Advanced Installer we knew that this can do what we need in a quick and uncomplicated way with a reasonable price tag.

By Stefan Koell on Sunday, April 24, 2011 4:28:56 PM
Screencasts

Our screencasts section features two new videos explaining how to create and use tasks and how to use the “Connect with Options” feature.

Visit http://www.code4ward.net/main/RoyalTS/Screencasts.aspx to see all our screencasts.

By Stefan Koell on Saturday, April 23, 2011 11:19:00 AM

Yesterday we released an update for Royal TS which brings 2 small new features and a couple of fixes. From the release notes:

  • NEW: Ability to type the clipboard text in the remote session (similar to the Hyper-V client)
    Finally we managed to implement the “type clipboard text” functionality you may already know from the hyper-v client.
  • NEW: Advanced tab has a new setting allowing you to enable/disable Compression
    You might wonder, why after more than 10 years of Royal TS we care about the compression setting of RDP? In previous versions we always enabled compression for RDP connections because it seemed obvious to save bandwidth without putting too much CPU load on the client and server. We’ve learned that there are some network devices out there which are built to further optimize RDP streams but this works only if uncompressed RDP streams are used. A user asked us to implement this because he was using such a device and realized that the compression prevented the device from optimizing the stream. So this is now tested and implemented for those who need to use such a device. Everyone else is advised to keep the compression on (which is still the default value).
  • FIXED: Screenshots are now saved as PNG files
    1.7.1 introduced the “take screenshot” functionality. We fixed the output format from the rather large BMP to much smaller PNG files.
  • FIXED: Modifying items didn’t always mark document as dirty
    Sometimes Royal TS didn’t prompt to save changes, even when the document was modified. This should be fixed now. Royal TS will still not consider a document changed when a folder is collapsed or expanded. Although this is still persisted in the file and needs you to trigger the save command manually.
  • FIXED: Checking for updates through a proxy server

You can download 1.7.2 from http://www.code4ward.net/main/RoyalTS/Download.aspx

If you run into an issue or want to provide feedback, feel free to use our forums: http://www.code4ward.net/main/Forums.aspx

By Stefan Koell on Monday, April 18, 2011 5:06:50 PM

Royal TS supports automatic logon, meaning you can provide user name, domain and password and you will be logged on automatically upon connect. As a side note, I recommend to encrypt the document with a master password to prevent others to read your passwords if they get a hold on your file. See a demonstration on how to do that in our screencasts section: http://www.code4ward.net/main/RoyalTS/Screencasts.aspx

Connecting to Windows 2000:

Windows 2000 (Workstation and Server) doesn't allow you to automatically log on through a terminal session. This is an OS limitation. Automatic logon only works with Windows 2003/XP or later.

RDP Settings:

On the remote server you want to connect to, open up the Terminal Services Configuration MMC (Windows 2003/2008) or Remote Desktop Session Host Configuration MMC (Windows 2008R2) from the Administrative Tools. Right-click on the RDP-Tcp connection and select Properties. Switch to the Log on Settings tab and ensure that the checkbox Always prompt for password is not checked.

RDP Settings using Group Policies:

The setting above can also be set and enforced by group policies.
Windows 2003: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc786890(WS.10).aspx
Windows 2008: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc753697(WS.10).aspx
Windows 2008R2: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee791928(WS.10).aspx

DontDisplayLastUserName is configured:

A very nice Royal TS user brought this to my attention. If your server is configured to not show the last user name, automatic logon may not work. See http://support.microsoft.com/kb/260711

To remove this setting on the Terminal Server:
1.Start Registry Editor (Regedt32.exe).
2.Locate and click the following registry key:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon
3.Click the DontDisplayLastUserName value, and then click String on the Edit menu.
4.Type 0 in the String Editor dialog box, and then click OK.
5.Quit Registry Editor, and then restart the Terminal Server.

If you need a workaround and want the last user to not show up but still want to use automatic logon you can try the following:
The same key at:
HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System
clears up the login username's field with a normal user, but not RDP's fields. So RDP Auto-Logon should work.

 

Since I often get asked why automatic logon is not working, I decided to create an FAQ-Item of the above. You can find it in the FAQ Forums: http://www.code4ward.net/main/Forums/tabid/61/forumid/11/scope/threads/Default.aspx

By Stefan Koell on Monday, March 28, 2011 4:20:40 PM

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I’ve just uploaded a new release to code4ward.net with several bug fixes and one new, little feature. Here’s the snippet of the version history:

NEW: Ability to save a screenshot of a remote session using the Actions -> Take Screenshot command

FIXED: Folder credentials are now handled in tasks

FIXED: Fullscreen window couldn’t be minimized when Grab Keyboard Input was switched off

FIXED: Leading and trailing blanks are now removed during bulk-add operations

FIXED: Other minor bugs and performance improvements

Fixed:

Since the release of Royal TS 1.7, an automated error reporting function was implemented. In case of a crash (basically an unhandled exception) you see something like this:

image

Clicking on “Send Error Report” will send us an email with the exception details. This was a huge help so far and we could smash lots of bugs which we’ve never realized we have. Of course, if you see an annoying bug in Royal TS you can and should still use our forums to report them.

We’ve also tweaked Royal TS (RTSApp.exe) to start faster and run smoother. 1.7.0 was sometimes sluggish and I think we were able to significantly improve overall performance.

New:

There were two major feature request since we’ve released the hyper-v dashboard and the ability to connect to hyper-v instances:

1.) Taking screenshots from the remote session

image

Screenshots will be saved in the user’s pictures folder in a sub directory called Royal TS.

2.) Typing the clipboard text into the remote session

This one is still on our roadmap. The remote desktop control doesn’t really allow to interact with the remote session from “outside”. Once we figured out a way to reliably type the clipboard text into the remote session, we will implement it.

By Stefan Koell on Monday, December 06, 2010 10:38:45 PM

Royal TS Icon LargeFirst of all: don’t panic! We are still working hard on V2 of Royal TS (including all the cool features like nested folders, credential manager, database sync, etc.). Because of some delays with V2 I decided to do spend a couple of weeks to merge back some of the features to the current code base. Monster blog-post starting now…

What’s New?

This release also has some bug fixes and minor features, like:
If a config file is corrupt, it will automatically recreate a new one.
If your remote session lost your keyboard focus, clicking inside the session will restore the keyboard focus.
Grab keyboard input behaves differently now: if checked (default), selecting an active connection will transfer the keyboard focus to the remote session.
Expand all/Collapse all in navigation tree.
Specify the remote keyboard layout.
Option in Pre-Connect task to abort connection if the result code is not ‘0’.
Additional custom display sizes can be added in the RTSApp.exe.config file.
Fully 120dpi – large font mode – compliant.
Many, many more…

Features in Detail

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Better Search and Filtering

image

The double-arrow icon indicates that you can expand or collapse the search and filter panel in the navigation tree as well as in the connection list. Once expanded, you can either search for connection name OR host name (yes, if your text is a match you will see the connection in the tree) or you click on the little light bulbs to filter and only show connected, disconnected or (as by default) all connections in the tree.

The sample shown in the screenshot shows all connected items where the host name or the connection name contains “TFS”. The search is not case sensitive and as long as a filter is active, drag & drop operations are not allowed.

When you collapse the search and filter panel, the filter will be cleared and everything is shown again.

The very same behavior applies to the search and filter panel in the connection list.

Find-As-You-Type

Another underestimated feature of the navigation tree is the “Find-As-You-Type” search functionality. When the navigation tree has the keyboard focus, you can just start typing a fragment of your connection name. As soon as you pause for more than 500ms between the keystrokes, the selected node will jump to the first search result.

Attention: by default, the keyboard focus is moved to the active session if the navigation tree selection is an active session.

Hyper-V Support

This is a huge leap forward and if you are using a lot of Hyper-V machines, I’m sure you’ll love it. To start from the beginning, here’s the new config screen for a connection:

image

This is a standard RDP connection (Default)

Royal TS will handle this connection as a standard RDP connection – exactly the same as in all previous versions and displays the standard dashboard.

This is a Hyper-V host, show VM instances in dashboard

Royal TS will display an additional dashboard panel showing all the VM instances on the machine. When this option is selected you can also change the standard Hyper-V proxy-ing port (default 2179).

To successfully retrieve the list of instances you or the credentials specified need to have the appropriate rights (local admin) and the machine running Royal TS needs to have RPC access to the Hyper-V machine (firewall policies!).

This is a Hyper-V host, connect to a specific instance

The last option lets you specify an instance ID (or browse for one). The connection will show up in the navigation tree as any other connection but instead of connecting to the host machine you will connect directly to the instance.

 

In Hyper-V mode, most of the display settings will not apply. Since this is handled by the instance, you do not have control over the screen resolution.

Finally, to simulate a CTRL-ALT-DELETE to unlock a remote instance you need to press CTRL-ALT-END.

The Hyper-V Dashboard

SNAGHTML214ff3d2

 

Get VM: Updates the VM instance list
Start: The selected instance will be started
Shut Down: The selected instance will shut down
Save: The state of the selected instance will be saved
Pause: The machine will be paused
Create RDP Connection: A standard RDP connection for the selected instance will be created. This shortcut will pre-populate the properties of the new connection. You just need to verify/enter the host name or IP and other settings like credentials.
Create Hyper-V Connection: Clicking on this button will create a new Hyper-V connection, all properties pre-populated based on the selection in the dashboard.

Folder Credentials

imageSNAGHTML2174bb2a

This was a very popular feature request. Still, I personally prefer setting my credentials using Bulk-Edit instead of Folder credentials but since this was very popular, I finally implemented it.

File Import

Also very popular request. We are still not there where we want to be but it’s a start. The import lets you open another .rts file and combine both files. Import is only available for licensed users. We are still missing .csv and .rdp file import but we are confident to have those in V2.

In case you desperately need a .csv import, you can still use the PowerShell script provided in the “Toolbox Forums”: http://www.code4ward.net/main/Support/Forum/tabid/61/forumid/4/threadid/10/scope/posts/Default.aspx

Bulk-Add

image

First thing you’ll notice that there are now lots of tooltips. This should help to find out about special fields. Another thing to note is that you can use the default network browser by clicking on the button next to the RDP port to browse for one or more computers in your network. If you select multiple computers, they will appear semi-colon separated in the Computer field. Of course you can enter multiple computers on your own with semi-colons or copy them from somewhere else.

As soon as you specify more than one computer, you cannot change the display name field anymore. This is by design and for bulk-add, the computer name will be set as display name.

Bulk-Edit

SNAGHTML21e50a63image

The Bulk-Edit dialog was enhanced to support the folder credentials and the Hyper-V settings.

License

Another important detail about 1.7 is, that it will need a new license key. All of you who are still within the software-upgrade-protection period will get automatically a new license key delivered by email. All of you who bought Royal TS 1.6 more than 12 months ago will get a coupon code for a discount. Let me also take this opportunity to thank all of you who supported Royal TS over the last years. It’s very much appreciated!

Beta Version

There’s a beta version available where the 1.6 key will work – at least until February 2011. To sign up for the beta program (Forums access, download information and beta newsletter delivery) you need to register an account on www.code4ward.net and click the following link after you have been logged in to our site: http://www.code4ward.net/main/Default.aspx?rsvp=RTSBETA

Help

We are also working on a local help file instead of redirecting to the online help. The help file is not ready yet, so the beta will still open the online help for now.

Installer

Because of the need for a new license key, we are considering to ship 1.7 with an installer which installs the new version side-by-side to 1.6x versions. We haven’t decided yet and would appreciate any feedback on that matter as well. We think that people may be upset if they install 1.7 and realize upon the first start that they need to upgrade their license. Having both versions installed lets everyone take a sneak peak to the new version without loosing the old one.

By Stefan Koell on Sunday, November 07, 2010 8:53:19 PM

SNAGHTML46b62cRoyal TS 1.6.10 has an issue when you try to open .rts documents created with versions 1.5 or older. Specifically when the document is missing the DocVersion element in the XML (see screenshot). If you open such an old file in 1.6.10, you may see all the connections but you cannot actually edit or connect to a session.

Here’s what you can do to avoid the issue with very old files:

Method 1:
Before you upgrade to 1.6.10, download and install 1.6.9 from here and upgrade then to 1.6.10 using this link.

Method 2:
Open the .rts file and add the 1 line at the bottom of the file (see screenshot).

Method 3:
You can also download the beta version of 1.6.11 which has a fix for that from here. To use the beta you need to install 1.6.10, download the .zip file and replace the RTSApp.exe in the install directory from the .zip file.

Method 4:
If the above doesn’t help you can also do the following:

  • Open the document
  • Select the document in the tree
  • On the right hand side, select all connections
  • Click on Edit to open the bulk-edit dialog
  • Check “Override Credentials” and leave all fields blank to reset all the credentials in your connections
  • After clicking OK you can use the same method to set the credentials to your connections again

It seems the issue is also encryption related. Much older versions of Royal TS are using a slightly different encryption method. This method was replaced since there was a bug with unicode characters in password strings.

There’s one other thing in 1.6.11 beta which might be interesting for you to test. As discussed in this thread, 1.6.11 will evaluate the exit code of the pre-connect task and will cancel the session if the exit code of the pre-connect task is not 0. So if you plan to implement a script to create a VPN connection you can actually prevent Royal TS from connecting to the session if the script is unsuccessful.

By Stefan Koell on Tuesday, October 19, 2010 8:38:48 AM

It’s been a couple of months since we released 1.6.9. According to our experience, user feedback and forum traffic, 1.6.9 has been a rock solid release. We are still working hard on a 2.0 release but there are some things we still needed to do for 1.6.10:

  1. Some minor cosmetic issues in the UI were fixed and improved. For example, the window title will now display the file name first which makes much more sense and can be found in many products. Especially in situations where you have multiple instances of Royal TS running, each has opened a different file, allows you to quickly find the right instance from the task bar.
  2. Performance optimization when you load and save your .rts files. We managed to improve load and save times dramatically, regardless of your document protection. Only caveat is the slightly longer processing time when you change your credentials using bulk-edit on a large number of connections at once.
  3. The installer will create a pre-compiled image of Royal TS during the installation. Royal TS will now start much faster and will also feel a bit snappier than before.

Royal TS 1.6.10 also needs to have .NET Framework 4 installed. Have a look the System Requirements page for more information.

The release notes for 1.6.10 can be found here.

Go to the download page to get 1.6.10 now.

A big ‘thank you’ to all our beta users for testing and feedback!

If you have any questions, suggestions or bug reports, feel free to register an account and post to our forums.

By Stefan Koell on Sunday, July 11, 2010 8:02:17 PM

Still working hard on V2. This time I will blog about controlling Royal TS settings using Group Policies:

image

 

An ADMX file will be supplied with some predefined policies to set. So far all policies can be set on computer level and on user level. Policies configured on computer level are stronger than on the user level.

Here’s an example how to configure data base logging using group policy objects:

image

Royal TS will pick up the policy change and will apply them immediately:

image

Notice the label at the bottom indicating some settings cannot be changed because they are applied using group policies.

Here are some more settings we plan to integrate:

image

 

 

As always, if you have any feedback, let us know…