Software Center – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

A few months ago I put up a picture on twitter of my software center setup, I was very surprised by how many people contacted me and ask how I had done it. So I wanted to discuss the look of software center, to me and my end user’s software center for lack of a better phrase is an App\Play Store (please don’t sue me Apple\Google) and is very important to the end user’s experience.

Everyone is using smart phones and the process of installing new application couldn’t be simpler and software center is the same (well it’s supposed to be). The end user expects it to be just as easy when installing application on your desktop or laptop.

Google and Apple stores are easy to navigate and to use.

App store and Play store

The Good
Software Center has come on in leaps and bounds over the years in no small part due to User Voice (put in link), in my environment I rebrand software center and call it “Company Apps” and place an icon on the desktop, as going into the start menu is a little tricky for some users. On the whole my end users are very happy with the experience.

The Bad
The UI is not as slick as it could be, Jamf make an SCCM equivalent called Casper to manage Macs and it follows the Apple ethos of style and UI first. I often believe as technical people we over look this as once we have deployed an application our job is done. An issue that drives me up the wall is the max icon size, most icons are 256×256 and the maximum size in SCCM is 250×250, what insanity is this. To be fair these are minor points.

The ugly
I want software center to look as slick and professional as possible and way too often I see people not bothering with an Icon or they just use some low res blurry versions. If you don’t use a multi size icon you normally end up with a slightly blurry image in software center see this User Voice for an example.

My Software Center set up is clean and clear for the end user

How to fix this
Adding icons can be a very manual process but is worth it when you get it right, I think one of the main issues here is multi-size\layer icons look much better, but that normally means converting an image to an ICO.

Option 1
Extracting an icon from an exe or from the windows repository is an option. Chrissy LeMaire has created a module to extract icons from exe’s or DLL’s, this is handy as you can just use PowerShell to get the icon but its normally small and can be slightly blurry.

Option 2
Get icon packs from one of the sites (see below), these are handy (assuming you don’t get 256×256) but again they can at times look a little blurry. I tend to try these first then failing that I go to option three.

Option 3
Get the full size PNG from the sites below and bulk convert with one of the online resources making sure to add 128×128 and 192×192. This almost always creates the best icon for your application.

Resources
Icon
http://www.iconarchive.com/
https://icons8.com/web-app/new-icons/all

Online Conversion
http://convertico.com/
https://icoconvert.com/ you can do in bulk
http://www.png2ico.com/

Putting it all together

Icons don’t have to be with the application so i tend to keep them all in a central location.

Cant have a post with out some PowerShell not sure Maurice would speak to me again if i did.
So to update your existing applications with your new icons (an example).

# Import SCCM PowerShell Module
$ModuleName = (get-item $env:SMS_ADMIN_UI_PATH).parent.FullName + "\ConfigurationManager.psd1"
Import-Module $ModuleName
Set-Location CM1:

Set-CMApplication -Name "Autodesk 360 Desktop 2017" -IconLocationFile \\SITESERVER\contentlibrary$\Software\_Icons\ICO\Autodesk_2017\bim_360.ico -Confirm
Set-CMApplication -Name "Autodesk 3DSMax 2016" -IconLocationFile \\SITESERVER\contentlibrary$\Software\_Icons\ICO\Autodesk_2017\3ds_max.ico -Confirm
Set-CMApplication -Name "Autodesk 3dsMax 2017" -IconLocationFile \\SITESERVER\contentlibrary$\Software\_Icons\ICO\Autodesk_2017\3ds_max.ico -Confirm
Set-CMApplication -Name "Autodesk AutoCAD 2017" -IconLocationFile \\SITESERVER\contentlibrary$\Software\_Icons\ICO\Autodesk_2017\autocad.ico -Confirm
Set-CMApplication -Name "Autodesk ECS Suite Exclusives 2016" -IconLocationFile \\SITESERVER\contentlibrary$\Software\_Icons\ICO\Autodesk_2017\entertainment_creation_suite.ico -Confirm
Set-CMApplication -Name "Autodesk Inventor 2017" -IconLocationFile \\SITESERVER\contentlibrary$\Software\_Icons\ICO\Autodesk_2017\inventor.ico -Confirm
Set-CMApplication -Name "Autodesk Maya 2016" -IconLocationFile \\SITESERVER\contentlibrary$\Software\_Icons\ICO\Autodesk_2017\maya.ico -Confirm
Set-CMApplication -Name "Autodesk MotionBuilder 2016" -IconLocationFile \\SITESERVER\contentlibrary$\Software\_Icons\ICO\Autodesk_2017\motionbuilder.ico -Confirm
Set-CMApplication -Name "Autodesk Mudbox 2016" -IconLocationFile \\SITESERVER\contentlibrary$\Software\_Icons\ICO\Autodesk_2017\mudbox.ico -Confirm
Set-CMApplication -Name "Autodesk ReCap 2016" -IconLocationFile \\SITESERVER\contentlibrary$\Software\_Icons\ICO\Autodesk_2017\recap.ico -Confirm
Set-CMApplication -Name "Autodesk ReCap 2017" -IconLocationFile \\SITESERVER\contentlibrary$\Software\_Icons\ICO\Autodesk_2017\recap.ico -Confirm
Set-CMApplication -Name "Autodesk Revit 2017" -IconLocationFile \\SITESERVER\contentlibrary$\Software\_Icons\ICO\Autodesk_2017\revit.ico -Confirm
Set-CMApplication -Name "Autodesk Robot Structural Analysis 2017" -IconLocationFile \\SITESERVER\contentlibrary$\Software\_Icons\ICO\Autodesk_2017\autodesk.ico -Confirm
Set-CMApplication -Name "Autodesk Showcase 2017" -IconLocationFile \\SITESERVER\contentlibrary$\Software\_Icons\ICO\Autodesk_2017\showcase_professional.ico -Confirm

Hopefully someone finds this useful.

Thanks

[sgmb id=1]

I am originally from Dublin – Ireland but moved to London in 2000 to study for a Computer Science degree. I currently work for London Metropolitan University, It’s a challenging but also a creative environment.

I specialise in system center configuration manager and application packaging, I’m working on increasing my online presence though my website and twitter account so please feel to drop me a line.

(1579)

comments
  • Mark Allen
    Posted at 11:48 January 17, 2017
    Mark Allen
    Reply
    Author

    Nice post Terence. For most users their entire perception of SCCM is the Software Center and so how it is presented should be a concern. To smooth the process we have added a step to the packaging process to export an icon and provide it along with the package.

  • Rhys
    Posted at 00:09 February 8, 2017
    Rhys
    Reply
    Author

    Do you know if it’s possible at all to put icons on available Task Sequences? The default one is quite ugly but so far I’ve found no information on being able to do this. We have Windows 10 available to staff as a zero-touch ‘refresh’ of their machine so it would be nice to have a good looking icon for this.

  • Leave a Reply