ThinappHelper – A Thinapp Utility For The Rest Of Us …

In a previous post I talked about the different Thinapp isolation modes and how these could be manually adjusted with a text editor. This is not a very user friendly process and so today I am going to take a look at ThinappHelper which provides a GUI for configuring Thinapp projects.

ThinappHelper is available from here: and requires that you have the .NET Framework installed (version 2 or higher). As Windows 7 comes with .NET version 3.5 I did not have to worry about this.

ThinappHelper runs from a single executable so we don’t need to install it.

Once we double-click ThinappHelper.exe the first thing that we should do is configure a backup location – just make sure that you have plenty of space if you are working on large Thinapp projects.

Note that some changes made with ThinappHelper will be performed immediatley (such as creating or deleting files and folders) so a backup is important!

Click Edit, Settings and then the Backup tab to define a backup location.

So now let’s take a quick look at the basics of the ThinappHelper GUI.

In the Settings tab we can see various options from the package.ini file which contains the build and other general options.

Some fields are just text fields while others are drop down menus containing the options available for a given parameter. Making simple changes then can be very quick – such as changing the Compression Type, or the Directory or Registry Isolation Modes.

The Executables tab shows the executables that will be created when the project is built. Here you can see that I have the main Firefox exectable and the Safe Mode executable for Firefox selected. The cmd.exe, regedit.exe and iexplore.exe executables are all entry points that can be used for debugging virtual applications.

In the Folders tab we can see the entire folder structre that Thinapp captured (in this instance for Firefox).  The GUI colour codes the folders per their isolation mode, which is very useful:

Green: Full Isolation
Yellow: WriteCopy
Red: Merged

Even though the isolation modes can only be changed one item at a time this is still a much nicer way to do it that by manually editing the files directly!

In the Registry tab everything is colour coded again per isolation mode. The ThinappHelper release notes do contain some caveats though regarding the use of special characters:

Any non-printable character -or reserved character (‘# ’, ‘~’ and ‘%’)- has to be escaped by replacing the character with a ‘# ’, followed by its hex-value. For example the ‘# ’ becomes ‘# 23’ and the ‘null’ is represented as ‘# 00’.
Unicode characters are escaped with ‘~’ and its 16-bit hex value (‘# ’ = ‘~0023’).
Strings (normal string and expandable) have to be terminated with a null-character (# 00). Strings-multi must have an additional empty string at the end (just add an additional # 00).
– String (normal/expandable): ‘This is a normal or expandable string#00’
– String Multi: ‘First string#00String # 23 2 (=number 2, dash escaped)#00Last string#00#00’

All -in-all ThinappHelper is a great tool for working with Thinapp projects and makes alot of things much much easier!

Many thanks to the CIS-Group for making their application available to the public!


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