I recently read a great post from a fellow Citrite, Lee Collison about the multiple consoles for Citrix solutions.  If you have not seen the post, check it out here.  Essentially, he talks about the “fud” often created by competitors of Citrix surrounding the need for multiple consoles to administer a Citrix solution.  However, as you will read in his post, simply leveraging the ability to add multiple consoles within an MMC console quickly circumvents this argument.

Lee’s post inspired me to write a follow-up on one of my favorite, and I think not widely know about features of MMC consoles, taskpad views.

A taskpad view is simply a custom look and feel that can be created with any MMC console.  This post is going to show how to create a taskpad view for the Citrix administrator.

To start, open a Citrix MSC console in “author” mode.  To do this, right-click on the MSC file and select Author.  I would recommend creating a copy of the file first.  In this example I am using the Citrix AppCenter MSC.  By default, this can be found in C:\Program Files (x86)\Citrix\Citrix Delivery Services Console\Framework\cmi60.msc.

Once opened, run through the initial “Configure and Run Discovery” of the console.  This only has to be done the first time.  However, make sure to set it up the way you want it.  For example, add the required XenApp servers now for future discovery since it will not be saved into this custom console.

Now, with the Citrix AppCenter console open, right-click on the XenApp node item and select New Taskpad View.

This will launch the New Taskpad View Wizard.  Click Next past the welcome screen.  The next screen will ask for the Taskpad Style.  Clicking on each of the options (Vertical list, Horizontal list, and No list) will show a preview of the styles.  I personally like the vertical list style.

After clicking Next, the next screen will ask for Taskpad Reuse.  Essentially, this is asking if the Taskpad that we are creating is only for the node that we started with (XenApp node), or for any node in this console.  This will be up to you.  However, in most cases you will want the same look and feel no matter where the administrator is in the console,  If this is the case, select All tree items are the same… and check the box for Make this the default taskpad…

The next window, Name and Description is simply the name of this taskpad view.  Assign a name and click Next.

The final screen of the New Taskpad View Wizard asks if you want to start creating tasks for your newly created view.  Leave the box checked to start creating tasks.

Tasks are any items that you can do in the console, but placed in a simple list that is easy to access for the administrator.  The concept here is to only add the tasks that the administrator uses on a regular basis.  This will eliminate all the other menu items that are not used.

To start adding tasks you can leave the option checked from the previous step or right-click the XenApp node again and select Edit Taskpad View.

Navigate to to the Tasks tab and click the New button.

This will launch the New Task Wizard.  Click Next past the welcome screen.  The next screen will ask for the Command Type.  There are three options; Menu command, Shell command, and Navigation.  Menu command is any command that is normally available in the console menu.  For example, in the Citrix AppCenter, a possible menu command could be “Publish Application”.  Shell command can be used to run a script, start a program, or open a web page.  For example, you could write a VBS script that kicks of a defrag of a XenApp server.  You could also use shell command to launch other consoles, like Event Viewer.  Finally, Navigation allows you to create favorite locations in the console tree and jump directly to it.  For this example, we are going to choose Menu command.

After clicking Next, the Menu Command screen is looking for the command source.  Click the drop down menu and select Node in the tree.  After doing this, the entire tree  is displayed from the console.  Navigate to the Applications node under the name of your farm.  Once there you will notice all the standard options that are present when right-clicking in the console.  For this example, choose Publish application.

The next window, Name and Description is simply the name of this task.  In most cases the default name should be used.  However, this can be changed to meet specific needs.  Assign a name and click Next.

In the Task Icon screen you can select an icon for the newly created text that will show in the console window.  You can select from the default stock or create and assign your own.

Once completed, the new task will show in the console.

Now, to go one step further you can remove the console tree so that only the taskpad items are available.  To do this click the icon below the menu bar for Show/Hide Console Tree.  This will remove the console tree and leave only the taskpad items.

The final step is optional.  If you want to now lock the console down so that administrators cannot make changes to it, use the following steps.  This could be useful if the console is being created for help desk or any type of delagated administrator.

Click on File –> Options.  In the Options window ensure that User mode – limited access, single window is selected.  Also ensure that Do not save changes to this console is checked and that Allow the user to customize views is unchecked.

Next, click on View –> Customize.  Ensure that each item is unchecked.  This will remove all the standard console actions and leave behind a very streamlined view.

Close the console and save the changes.  Now, open the console (not in author mode).  As you will see you now have a simplified console that shows only the tasks you created.

Now that you know how to create taskpad views, the sky truly is the limit.  In addition, you can bring multiple MSC consoles into a single taskpad view.  For example, you can have a single taskpad view that contains Citrix AppCenter (XenApp), Desktop Studio (XenDesktop), Web Interface, Provisioning Services Management Console, and even XenCenter (XenServer).

Just to show an example, have a look at a custom console I created.

References:

How to Create a Custom Delivery Services Console Along with Windows Administration Components on XenApp 6.0
HOW TO: Create and Edit a Taskpad View in a Saved MMC Console in Windows 2000

I welcome any comments\suggestions\questions