At Avanite we’ve just launched the latest version of our WebData Control product. Prior to this release we had focused on the idea of managing browser generated data in virtual environments where roaming this data was often a big contributor to slow logon times and caused issues with user profiles and the management of them. I won’t cover this here as I want to focus on what’s new. In the new 4.4 release we have changed focus a little, we now have two new features which sit alongside our existing data management feature.
So why did we do it? Well, in most modern workspaces, “IT” (is it still called IT?) is forced to deliver and manage multiple browsers with Google Chrome being commonplace alongside the traditional, Enterprise favorite, Internet Explorer browser. In addition, Microsoft Edge is available on most Windows 10 deployments and Firefox is present, albeit to a lesser extent. When consuming these workspaces, whether they be in the cloud or on-premises users often have a choice of which browser they want to use, although some websites, web applications or SaaS applications work better in one browser than they do in another.
Introducing Favorites Synchronization and Browser Redirector…
The concept behind favorites synchronization feature is pretty simple and self-explanatory. When enabled, the Avanite WebData Control Favorites Synchronization feature will synchronize user created favorites between the different browsers installed on a session and store them all in a single location. This can be in the user profile or on a central share. Administrators can also configure a set of default bookmarks to be shown in a given browser and these will supplement the user created favorites.
Speaking with our customers the feedback was that it would be pretty powerful if we could enforce this and always use a certain browser for certain URLs.
Now enter Browser Redirector which works hand-in-hand with the Favorites Synchronization feature but can also be used on its own. Where an administrator specifies a default favorite the URL of the favorite can be specified to only be allowed to open in a specific browser, any http/https requests are intercepted and redirected to the browser of choice. The concept is then extended to allow any URL request to be redirected to a specific browser.
Taking a simple example of this, configure a policy to create a default favorite in Internet Explorer for our Intranet site (https://intranet), and configure a policy to state that https://intranet should always open with Internet Explorer even though the default browser remains as Google Chrome. When a user launches Internet Explorer they have a favorite present and all is well. If a user launches Google Chrome and navigates to the Intranet URL the tab closes and opens in Internet Explorer. If a user clicks a link from an email or a word document for the Intranet URL the request is intercepted and launched in Internet Explorer or a new tab if Internet Explorer is already running, even though the default browser is Google Chrome. Where a policy match isn’t found the default browser is used to handle requests.
We see the Browser Redirector feature as being very powerful in a modern workspace with some websites only working in certain browsers due to legacy technology dependencies like java, flash, silverlight or ActiveX for example. Helping our customer, the end user find the right resource quickly and seamlessly should result in higher productivity and in less support calls.
Hopefully the above makes sense! WebData Control supports Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Edge today and we plan to introduce support for the new Edge Browser over the coming months.