OpenFin - Information and Debugging Tips

What is OpenFin

OpenFin is a widely used window-wrapper around financial HTML5 applications. This gives the user the feeling of a fully installed Windows application, even though the content of the application is actually a web page, and is not installed on the PC at all. So for each app that uses OpenFin there is zero deployment to the desktop other than a couple of shortcuts. The wrapper itself was designed specifically for finance, is guided by a consortium of banks, and is a built on a modified secure-sandbox version of the Electron browser. OpenFin are heavily focused on security and convenience for the regulated financial sector.

OpenFin recently became openSource, and are independent of the apps like EarlyBird that use it.

What's the Advantage for Users?

Running EarlyBird in a web browser is fine for occasional use, but web browsers are not great for running financial business tools.

The main problem is that you want to keep EarlyBird open all the time, and at a size and position that you can see it. Most users run EarlyBird as a thin vertical strip, minimizing screen space, sometimes across two vertically stacked monitors. But if you resize your browser like that for EarlyBird, all your web pages will be that shape. And you'll soon lose EarlyBird among the browser tabs and close it by accident.

In contrast, in OpenFin you get what looks like a Windows application, positioned wherever and whatever shape you want it. When you then click a web link in a Tweet, it opens a new tab in your existing browser without resizing. You also get a shortcut on the desktop and start menu, and you can add the shortcut to the auto-start apps if you want to.

We strongly recommend running EarlyBird in openFin for all but your initial testing.

How do I run EarlyBird in OpenFin?

  • Go to the EarlyBird Run Page (the link is always at the top right of this website)
  • Click "Run EarlyBird Desktop"
  • Once you've done this, you'll get shortcuts on your desktop and Start Menu to run EarlyBird more easily.
  • You can also configure EarlyBird to start with Windows (see the bottom of this page)

How Does it Work?

We're going to get increasingly techy from here on.

If OpenFin is already installed it will recognise links that start "fins:". Any fins: link will launch OpenFin if it's installed, and then run the app that the link points to, eg EarlyBird.

The link on the EarlyBird Run Page uses this technique : fins://app.marketearlybird.com/openfin.json

Chrome / IE / Edge should say they recognise this link as being OpenFinRVM, and give the option to open it.

If they say there's no handler for "fins:" links, or offer a list of apps for the user to choose, it means it hasn't yet been installed.

OpenFin is typically a one-click install with no admin rights required. The installation link is on the EarlyBird Run Page, and is hosted from openFin.co. This installs OpenFin, and once complete launches EarlyBird in the OpenFin window. You'll get a desktop shortcut to EarlyBird, and an EarlyBird start-menu item including an uninstall link (which just removes the shortcuts, nothing from EarlyBird gets installed)

Usually that's all there is to it, and users can get this far with no admin assistance.

What if the OpenFin installation doesn’t work?

By default OpenFin installs in c:\users\username\AppData\Local. This works for most users without admin rights.

If that location is blocked by your security restrictions, you'll see an error during installation. This is easily solved, but you need IT to help.

I am from IT, what do I need to do?

If AppData/Local is blocked, you can choose another install location for OpenFin using either the registry or Group Policy. We've put some tips together based on our experience to make this easy - like 5 minutes. However you may want to refer to the OpenFin instructions for more technical details :  https://openfin.co/group-policy and https://openfin.co/developers/installation/ especially if you intend to use Group Policy to control this.

We found that you need to set three registry / policy entries : installDir, rvmInstallDirectory and runtimeDirectory. Each should be set to your chosen path, eg c:\OpenFin

Here are the entries:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\OpenFin]

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\OpenFin\RVM]
"installDir"="c:\\OpenFin"

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\OpenFin\RVM\Settings]

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\OpenFin\RVM\Settings\Deployment]
"runtimeDirectory"="c:\\OpenFin"
"rvmInstallDirectory"="c:\\OpenFin"

Paste these into a text file, save as openFinRegEntries.reg, and double click to add to the registry. You can use HKEY_CURRENT_USER or HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE. You can also use group policy settings.

Now run the installation shortcut again and it should work. The EarlyBird shortcuts on the desktop and menu (under EarlyBird) should now point to your chosen directory.

If it still doesn't work from the link on the website...

When OpenFin runs, it registers “fin:” and “fins:” as protocol handlers, so you can run any OpenFin application from a shortcut such as fins://app.marketearlybird.com/openfin.json 

However for a partially failed installation, especially when we were changing install directories around, we found that the protocol handlers were still pointing at the old, blocked appdata\local directory.  To fix them, just remove “fin” and “fins” from HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT, then run EarlyBird using the shortcut on your desktop. This will recreate the protocol handler entries to match the installed location. It should then work from the website link.

We tested this on Windows 10 by blocking exes from running in %LocalAppData% or it's subdirectories as described here

Licencing Terms for OpenFin

EarlyBird uses only the Community Edition features of OpenFin, so there is no cost to the OpenFin licence in normal use. However if you are using OpenFin extensively, or using Group Policy features to control it, you should contact OpenFin to discuss paid support options such as an Enterprise Licence. 

How to run EarlyBird on Startup.

To have EarlyBird Desktop run on user login, copy the openFin shortcut from the desktop to the user's startup menu. 

In later versions of Windows this is less easy to find, so here's a quck way:

  • Windows Key + R to bring up the Run dialog
  • run shell:startup to launch the startup menu folder in an explorer window
  • Right-Mouse-Drag the shortcut from the desktop to the startup menu and choose "Copy Here"

 


 

 

Posted on 11/19/2017 11:45:34 AMEarlyBird News