ScreenConnect Developer Tools

As many of you are already aware, extensions are coming to ScreenConnect. For those still unfamiliar, the addition of extensions will bring modular pieces of code to the vanilla product. Enabling or disabling feature sets at will becomes possible with extensions, and we've covered a few of the internally developed extensions within this blog over the past few weeks.

What we're particularly excited to share it that we're hard at work creating all the tools necessary for you to make your own extensions! Right now, those testing the pre-release of version 5.0 can download the Extension Developer from our online extension browser. Yes, our development tools are actually an extension. Once downloaded, you can create your own extensions, view the source for existing extensions, and clone existing projects to use as your template.

We've also begun working on our documentation, although it's far less polished than our developer tools at this point. You can find what we have so far here. It's far from complete at this point, but we're making regular contributions. I recommend viewing the "Extensions Guide" first. You can also view some of our other pages in construction such as the JavaScript API (work in progress).

We also appreciate any feedback from the community on our development tools and documentation going forward. The point of adding development resources to ScreenConnect is to increase your customizing abilites. Make it your own!

Send us any feedback, suggestions, etc. to this email address.

Posted by Jacob Turpin at 2:50 AM       0 Comments       Share

ScreenConnect Cloud Preview

It's our pleasure to announce that ScreenConnect will be going to the cloud. To be clear, this is not a new product. We're simply adding an alternative to the exisitng self-hosted solution by rolling distribution into a hassle-free service. We've developed this solution for those wanting to try ScreenConnect without the need to self-host, or for those who are unable to host ScreenConnect in their environment.

Many of the specific details will be announced in the following weeks. But, here's what you need to know for now:

Coming Q4 2014, we will begin rolling out ScreenConnect Cloud. We're expecting the official release to come in Q4, but we're looking for current and trialing customers to try out the new service right now. If you want the opportunity to test your own instance of the new cloud service, email our sales team at sales@screenconnect.com to request invitaiton to the program, including "ScreenConnect Cloud" in the Subject line. We have a limited number of slots and can't guarantee availability, so request your position in the program ASAP.

This is a very excited time here at ScreenConnect, and we can't wait to bring you further details on the program!

Posted by Jacob Turpin at 8:49 AM       0 Comments       Share

Chrome, ClickOnce, and the new WindowsSelector Client

By now, a large group of you have noticed that the ClickOnce Helper extension is no longer available in the Chrome Web Store. This is due to the fact that, late last year, Google (along with it's open source brother Chromium) decided to move away from the Netscape Plug-in API (NPAPI). ClickOnce was one of the casualties expected from this change, and Google finally pulled the trigger two weeks ago. Going forward, this means that some changes will be coming to our available joining methods, mainly affecting Chrome users on Windows systems.

Note: For the time being, we suggest that our version 4.4 users with the ClickOnce Helper extension continue using it for now. Those not so fortunate can change to another joining method; it will become that particular user's default for any subsequent sessions. We apologize for any incovenience this causes.

Starting in version 5.0, you'll be greeted with the new "WindowsSelector" option. This new method of joining sessions behaves similarly to the current access installer. That is, the WindowsSelector option downloads an .exe file for installation on the guest's machine. Once the installation runs it course, a ScreenConnect Client service will be running on their desktop. For the more security conscious, don't worry. This method does NOT create a persisent connection to the client's machine like the access client. The addition of a service-based support client opens up a whole new set of opportunites for easily joinable sessions, and we're busy exploring the new features and extensions to bring to the table.

Posted by Jacob Turpin at 2:41 AM       0 Comments       Share

Extension Spotlight: Auto Respond to Message

It's been a few weeks now, and we've pretty well covered the set of preview Extensions currently available in the pre-release of version 5.0. We've witnessed the modularity they bring, allowing the addition of desired features. And, we're actively working on developer information so that you can develop your own extensions.

We've covered three extensions thus far. First, we explored client-initiated sessions with the Guest Session Starter. Next, the screen preview enhancer added a quick tool for observing guests. Finally, we presented the technician with a tool to quickly jump into sesions from the desktop.

This week, we're concerned with Access clients. The "Auto Respond to Message" extension will auto respond to messages from Access clients when a Host is not connected to the session. The message is customizable too.



Note: There are a few configurations that can be made to customize this Extension. 1. In the SessionEventTrigger.xml file, you can specify the From address for the messages. If not included, the field will be the default Mail from value. In the file, find the SmtpTriggerAction area and add:

To=""
With a value in the "" field.

A correct setting should look like:

<TriggerAction xsi:type="SmtpTriggerAction" To="email@address.com" Subject="AutoResponse has executed" Body="{Event.Data}"/>

2. Also in the SessionEventTrigger, the ScreenConnect server's web service port may need to be configured if it is different than the default (8040). You can change it in the HttpTriggerAction section by changing the port in the URI to whatever your server is using.

3. In the Resource file (Web.en-US.resx): You can configure the username (AutoResponse.HostName) from which the auto response is sent And you can configure the message itself (AutoResponse.Message).

Posted by Jacob Turpin at 8:25 AM       0 Comments       Share
Categories: ScreenConnect

Extension Spotlight: ScreenConnector

As you've likely seen or heard by now, Extensions are coming to ScreenConnect. With their addition, ScreenConnect will now have modular additions of code that can be installed/uninstalled and enabled/disabled at will. We'll even be giving you developer information in time as well (the development tools are actually already available as an extension).

So far, we've covered a client-initiated session starter and a screen preview enhancer. They're useful, but today's spotlight really up the utility of ScreenConnect. Let's say that you have a particular session, regardless of type, that you need to join. Maybe, it's an internal machine that you need to service through an Access meeting. Or, perhaps, you're a tier two technician who needs to join your tier one staff in an exisitng Support session. It can be a hassle to open up the website, find your session, and start the joining process. Now, there's a way to circumvent the majority of the process.

ScreenConnector is the new extension that allows you to connect to exisitng ScreenConnect sessions quickly with an .exe that resides on your desktop. The extension places a downloadable .exe in the Extras menu of the guest page. Launching ScreenConnect will prompt rusers to authenticate, and then they'll be able to use the Windows "Jump Lists".




Note: At this time, ScreenConnector is only available on Windows machines and uses .NET version 4.5

Posted by Jacob Turpin at 2:41 AM       0 Comments       Share
Categories: feature | ScreenConnect

Extension Spotlight: Expand Thumbnail Preview Image

In case you don't frequent our social media, we'll be covering extensions that are in development. Many of these will be available at the release of version 5. We started off with a video of the Guest Session Starter last week. Today, we're going to switch gears with a more technician-focused extension.

Sometimes a guest just simply needs a nudge in the right direction, not necessarily a full session. In this case, it would be nice to see the guest's screen at a sizeable resolution without the need to join a session. The Expand Thumbnail Preview addresses this issue. The extension allows you to take a quick look at the guest's system without having to connect to the machine. After the extension is installed, you'll see a button below the screenshot on the Host page to expand the image.



Note: You also have to make a minor change to the web.config file in order for the extension to function properly.

  1. On the ScreenConnect server, open the web.config file (C:\Program Files (x86)\ScreenConnect\web.config on Windows and /opt/screenconnect/web.config on Linux and Mac).
  2. Find the following two settings: GuestScreenshotMaxScalePercent and GuestScreenshotMaxPixelCount.
  3. Change the value of those two settings to something larger, I recommend setting them to: <add key="GuestScreenshotMaxScalePercent" value="60"></add> and <add key="GuestScreenshotMaxPixelCount" value="1000000"></add>.
  4. Save the changes
Give it a try, and let us know what you think on our forums. And, stay tuned for the coverage on our next Extension.

 

Posted by Jacob Turpin at 2:56 AM       0 Comments       Share
Categories: ScreenConnect

Extension Spotlight: Guest Session Starter

With the upcoming release of version 5.0, one of the centerpiece additions will be extensions. The functionality extensions will bring can be paralleled to what's currently done with Chrome browser extensions. They are additional segments of code that are added onto your existing ScreenConnect installation. In doing so, you add some new piece of functionality.

This week, and for the next coming weeks, we will be covering various extensions of interest. And, to kick things off, we'll be reviewing the Guest Session Starter. A demo is available below.



If the Guest Session Starter has peaked your interest, feel free to download the lastest Pre-Release of version 5.0 from our website. Just note, the pre-released version is not meant for a production environment. We highly recommend installing it in a test environment.

Posted by Jacob Turpin at 5:10 AM       0 Comments       Share
Categories: ScreenConnect

Automatic Query Tool

We've spent the past few weeks exploring the ability to obtain extra information from the ScreenConnect database. We obtained a database viewer, and we've run some interesting queries about access machines and support session durations. It's a bit of an understatement to say that we can find some pretty useful information with SQL quieries. But, there are limitations to our current workflow. What if you need a less technical employee to generate reports? Or, what if you have a query that needs to be run on a regular basis?

Forunately, we can take the process one step further with some programming aptitude. There are libraries readily available for handling SQL queries. In this case, I've used my most familiar language: Java. It's possible to easily open and query the database, manipulate the data, and save to a format that can be viewed with Excel. It can even be exported an as executable file.

Below, you'll find two files: the .exe file for duration and the zipped Eclipse project. The program is written specifically for Windows 64-bit machines, but can be easily changed for Unix-based operating systems. You can choose to use my exising .exe file to generate support duration reports (Warning: it requires Java 8), and you can modify the existing code to generate your own reports.

Note: The executable must be run on the server machine. A good strategy is to place the .exe on your server's desktop, install an access client on your server (if you haven't already), and remote to the server anytime you need a report.

Generate Report .exe (3.78 mb)

Eclipse Project .zip (3.72 mb)

Good luck with your customizations, and share any interesting modifications with the forum!

Posted by Jacob Turpin at 3:57 AM       0 Comments       Share
Categories: ScreenConnect

SQL Queries: Support Session Duration

At this point, we've pretty well covered creating machine lists. Powered with your SQL tools and some basic queries, you can create a list of all machines and include some basic information about them. But, we want to take our utilization of the database one step further. We want something that can be used on a yearly, monthly, or perhaps even weekly basis to streamline our workflow and save time. I'm, of course, talking about determining session duration.

A valuable group of our users provide ad-hoc support to customer machines external to their organization. The vast majority of these interactions occur via Support sessions in ScreenConnect. And, these sessions typical occur with some sort of hourly billing rate. Yet, there isn't an easy way to generate usage reports (something we recognize and are looking to bring official support to in the future). Luckily, we can use our SQL tools and a well-crafted query to generate a quick and easy report in Excel. Let's check out the code below:



	
SELECT s.name, sc.ParticipantName, s.GuestLoggedOnUsername, 
s.GuestMachineName, min(sce.time) as Start,
((julianday(max(sce.time)) - julianday(min(sce.time))) * 24 * 60)
as 'Duration (min)'

FROM SessionConnection sc

INNER JOIN SESSION s ON s.sessionid = sc.sessionid

INNER JOIN sessionconnectionevent sce ON sce.sessionid = s.sessionid
AND sc.connectionid = sce.connectionid

WHERE sc.ProcessType = 1 AND (sce.EventType = 10 OR sce.EventType = 11)
AND s.SessionType = 0

GROUP BY s.name, sc.ParticipantName, s.GuestLoggedOnUsername,
s.GuestMachineName;


The query above will return the duration for all support sesions that have occured since the database was last cleared. Note: the time return is the total amount of time from when the technician originally created the support session to when the final user exited that session. Make sure this fits in line with how your organization does billing if you intend on using this query. Also important to consider is that, in order to maximize effectiveness, I suggest using the SQLite Database Browser to export the results in CSV format to Excel. From there, it's easy to filter and order data by Start time and/or other data.

Hopefully, this can be implemented into your company's workflow, cut some time out of preparing your billing, and serve as a proper holdover until official Extended Reporting is offered in the ScreenConnect software.

Posted by Jacob Turpin at 2:24 AM       0 Comments       Share
Categories: Development | feature | ScreenConnect