Building Web Portals with NFuse Classic 1.7 - Citrix MetaFrame XP

NFuse Classic is a Citrix server product that allows you to create web application portals for your users to access MetaFrame XP published applications and content.

NFuse Classic is a Citrix server product that allows you to create web application portals for your users to access MetaFrame XP published applications and content. With NFuse Classic, users connect to a website where, after authentication, they are presented with links to their MetaFrame XP applications. In a sense, the user's web browser becomes their "Program Neighborhood," because it contains a custom application list dynamically built for each of them based on their credentials.

When users visit an NFuse Classic web portal, the ICA client software is downloaded to their client device if they do not already have it installed. This allows you to provide true "URL Access" to Windows applications, because the URL of your NFuse Classic portal is all that users need in order to be able to access their MetaFrame applications. NFuse Classic can provide users with seamless access to multiple server farms, including mixtures of MetaFrame 1.8 and MetaFrame XP farms.

Citrix's NFuse Classic software, which is included free with MetaFrame XP (and the newest version is available as a free download), needs to be loaded on to your web server. NFuse Classic works with almost any web server, including Microsoft IIS, iPlanet, and Apache. This software uses your existing MetaFrame XP server farm to provide the application links to your users. In fact, ICA sessions launched from NFuse Classic web portals are identical to sessions launched from regular ICA clients. There is no difference to the look and feel of the applications, and your users do not need to run ICA sessions from within their web browsers.

Due to its versatility and ease of use, NFuse Classic has become the de facto standard in MetaFrame XP application deployment. In this chapter, we will look at how NFuse Classic works and how you can use it in your own MetaFrame XP environment.

NFuse Versions

Within the Citrix product line, "NFuse" is the name of the family of web portal products. Currently, there are two different NFuse products: NFuse Classic and NFuse Elite.

  • NFuse Classic is the product available for free that's used exclusively with MetaFrame XP.
  • NFuse Elite is a standalone web portal product. (Think of it more like Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server or Plumtree Corporate Portal.)

NFuse Classic is an extension of MetaFrame XP, while NFuse Elite has nothing to do with MetaFrame XP. Technically, you can integrate MetaFrame XP applications into NFuse Elite portals, but this integration process is no different from MetaFrame XP applications being integrated into SharePoint or Plumtree portals.

This book does not cover NFuse Elite (just as it doesn't cover SharePoint or Plumtree). The objective here is to provide you with the knowledge you need to design your MetaFrame XP server farms. Since NFuse Classic is used to extend MetaFrame XP to the web, this chapter covers NFuse Classic.

There are several different versions of NFuse Classic that can be used with MetaFrame XP, ranging from NFuse 1.51 to NFuse Classic 1.7. NFuse 1.51 is the version included with the MetaFrame XP CD set. NFuse Classic 1.7 is a newer version with many updated features. It's available for download from www.citrix.com at no cost.

NFuse Classic 1.7 is required if you want to use the advanced features of MetaFrame XP servers introduced in Feature Release 2. However, NFuse Classic 1.7 works fine with MetaFrame XP servers that are running any Feature Release and any Service Pack (including the base product out of the box).

In reality, all versions of NFuse Classic from 1.51 through 1.7 are similar and work in basically the same manner. This chapter focuses solely on the newer version of NFuse, NFuse Classic 1.7. Because NFuse Classic 1.7 is available for free and it works with all versions of MetaFrame XP (and MetaFrame 1.8 with Service Pack 2), there is really no reason that any new NFuse deployments shouldn't be done with NFuse Classic 1.7.

Advantages of Focusing on NFuse Classic 1.7 Instead of NFuse 1.51

  • It's a free upgrade from NFuse 1.51.
  • It works with all versions of MetaFrame XP.
  • It's easier to configure than NFuse 1.51.
  • It has more native features than NFuse 1.51.
  • If you want your NFuse portal to use the new features of Feature Release 2, you must use NFuse Classic 1.7.

Of course, by choosing to focus on NFuse 1.7, we may leave those that have existing NFuse 1.51 deployments in the dark.

Disadvantages of Focusing on NFuse 1.7 Instead of NFuse 1.51.

  • You can only load one instance of NFuse 1.7 per web server.

If you currently have an NFuse 1.5x or NFuse 1.6x environment, there is a section towards the end of the chapter that covers what you need to know about NFuse 1.7 when you upgrade from older versions of NFuse. The good news is that if you are just using the basic features of NFuse 1.5x or 1.6x, you can upgrade to NFuse 1.7 without any problems. However, if you have a highly-customized NFuse 1.5x environment, you will probably need to rewrite some code to use NFuse 1.7. If you fall into this category, read this chapter to learn about the new features of NFuse 1.7 and decide for yourself if it's worth your time to upgrade (remembering that once you go to Feature Release 1 or 2, you will be forced to upgrade). Either way, many of the concepts covered here will apply to NFuse no matter if you are using NFuse 1.5x, 1.6x, 1.7.

Throughout the rest of this chapter, the term "NFuse" will refer to "NFuse Classic 1.7."

Why use NFuse?

Before we get too far into this chapter, it's probably worth our time to take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of using NFuse. These advantages and disadvantages will become clear after you finish reading this chapter, but let's glance at them now.

Advantages of Using NFuse

  • All users can access all of their MetaFrame XP applications via one URL.
  • You do not need to visit users to make configuration changes because application lists are dynamic and they reflect changes to users' configured applications the next time the user visits the NFuse web page.
  • There is no need to manually install ICA client software or worry about client auto update.

Disadvantages of Using NFuse

  • There are some client devices (particularly older thin clients) that do not work with NFuse.
  • You need a web server (although this could be one of your MetaFrame XP servers).

 

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