What is Version Explorer?

Version Explorer, showing computer, OS, browser, and other version information. 

In my job I install server and/or client software on many different virtual machines. The server VMs are running Windows Server and usually have IIS and SQL Server installed. The client VMs have Windows 10 and one or more browsers plus application software. It's important to know at a glance the version of not only the OS, IIS, and SQL Server, but of other components and of the software I'm testing. In order to accomplish this, I created the app Version Explorer.

Initially this was a part of a tray application I developed, and as such it was a big, hard coded series of calls to methods that pulled data out of the Windows registry, from executable files, and from SQL. It wasn't customizable, though, so I had to start from scratch and do it right. So I created a framework that allows me to decide what I want to see.

The core concept is one of the version collector, which is simply an entry that points to an executable file, to a registry key and value, or to the results from a T-SQL select statement. It pulls the data from whatever is specified and that's what's displayed on the main form.

Add a new version collector. Give it a name, select a collection source, and specify the required data.

But it's important to not fill the main form with information that cannot be found. If a version collector fails to get the specified information, it's ignored. The entry remains in the XML file that versions collectors are stored in, but the user isn't shown it since it can't get the requested information. This allows me to create a single XML file with all of the version collectors I need, and to use that file on multiple VMs.

The entire list of version collectors.

Now I realize what I've released as a Windows 10 app might not be accessible to an enterprise that wants to view this information on their VMs, but it's still useful for anyone with access to the Microsoft Store. You can install this free app, customize the set of version collectors, and have version and other information at your fingertips.

If there's interest I'll look into releasing this as a stand alone application, but for now, you can find it in the Microsoft Store. Just search for Version Collector.

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