The accessability of apps through Launchers and the Dashboard

To start a Bench app or shell, launchers are provided. Launchers appear in two different forms: A shortcut in the launcher directory, and an icon in the Bench Dashboard main window. Additionally to start them by double click, dragging a file onto a launcher, starts the linked app or shell and passes the path of the dropped file as a command line parameter to the app or shell. Usually this means, the app opens and the shell executes the dropped file.


Loading the Bench Environment

A launcher starts an app or a shell inside of the Bench environment. Therefore, the started app or shell has a modified set of environment variables according to the isolation settings of Bench.

If the launcher in the Bench Dashboard is used, the process is created directly with a modified set of environment variables. If the shortcut is used, a launcher script (CMD batch file) is executed, which first calls the environment script env.cmd to load the Bench environment, and then starts the app or shell.

Running Adornments

If an app has pre- or post-execution scripts, or it uses the registry isolation feature, the launcher executes the app via the PowerShell script auto/lib/Run-Adorned.ps1. This script takes care of performing the registry isolation and running the pre- and post-execution scripts.

Passing Arguments

The launcher is designed to be as transparent as possible during the execution of an app. This means it passes given command line arguments down to the app. This behavior is important to allow opening a file by dropping it onto an app launcher.

Drag & Drop Launching

If a file is dropped onto a launcher, its path is passed as a command line argument to the linked app or shell. Usually this means the app opens the dropped file and the shell executes the dropped file.

This behavior comes in handy, when the launcher directory is used as source for a toolbar in the Windows taskbar. In that situation not only the Bench apps are easily available in the Windows taskbar, but dropping a script or a file onto a launcher icon in that toolbar, starts an app or a shell inside of the Bench environment with all consequences.

See also: Drag & Drop Launching for shells

Start Menu Search Integration

If a Bench environment is used as the main software environment in a Windows user profile, see isolation levels, it would be nice, if the apps could be discovered and launched via typing in their names in the search feature of the Windows start menu. To achieve this, the location of the launcher directory must be changed, so that it resides inside the start menu folder of the Windows profile.

Therefore, the configuration property LauncherDir must be set to something like this: $AppDataDir$\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Bench. This requires the configuration property OverrideHome to be false.