Code by Kevin

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Kevin Walzer, software developer.



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Thu, 07 Apr 2016

Deploying Python apps on Windows

In releasing the Python-based QuickWho 6.0 today, for the Windows version I followed the model I used for my Perl-based FileMorph app--I coded a stub executable in C that linked to the Python interpreter and made no effort to wrap everything up in a single "app" executable.

Python has more options for "freezing" or deploying standalone apps than Perl does, but the present state is a bit rough: none of the major libraries for Windows work to my satisfaction. Either they do not support Python 3.5, which has some significant changes over previous versions of Python on Windows, or they lack polish in certain respects in terms of customizing the icon or the version info bundled with the executable. This approach results in a larger distribution than the other approaches, but that's a trade-off I'm willing to make.

The other nice thing about using a C-based executable is that it can be ported to other languages with only minor changes, since all the languages that I use for desktop applications are themselves developed in C, and have a C API. The core of my exe stub does not change; it calls into Windows functions to set the working directory of the program, and requires only minor changes to hook into whatever language I am developing in at that time. This will make future projects on Windows simpler. (For an example, see http://fossil.codebykevin.com/fossil.cgi/quickwho/artifact/f3f87b14df46973c.)

The other thing I am doing with my Windows applications is using a simple installer and uninstaller setup that that includes only minor variations with each application. I use iexpress, a system tool that Microsoft includes with Windows to streamline the installation of software components and libraries. It essentially creates self-extracting archives, that only require a single click before each component is installed where I want. My installer package includes an installer script, an uninstaller script, a zip file of the application package, and a small unzip tool to decompress the archive. There are more complex software installer programs out there, both commercial and open-source, but iexpress is very simple and appeals to my Unix-based background. Developing the installer and uninstaller scripts was a great experience because I learned a great deal about Windows internals, its basic scripting language (batch), and so on.

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QuickWho 6.0

I've released version 6.0 of QuickWho, my whois client for OS X and, now, Windows. This version features a major under-the-hood rewrite for increased accuracy, and various UI enhancements. If you would like a richer alternative to the command-line whois tool, it's a great product.

I've been away from work here since late last fall, working on other projects, especially my mobile apps. . I anticipate spending more time on desktop projects in the coming months.

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