The long awaited Software Browser feature is finally here! Where AppDeploy had a giant alphabetical list with no filtering or pagination, this new page should be the most welcome change of all.

One important tip I want to covey before discussing the data you see here is that listings in the Software Library are for the software title and all versions associated with that title. That means, you may see that Camtasia Studio has 14 tips but when you click on it you see only 6. The reason is the tip count is for all versions, so to see the others you need to change versions using the drop down menu (version 6 has 2, version 5 has 3, etc.). Note that by default we aim to display the latest version (though this is not always accurate). 

While nobody ever complained about duplicate records and ugly software listings before, but I realize we are setting a new standard here and the one real downside to our efforts to make software easier to browse is that it exposes some not so clean entries. This is something we are continually working on internally and while we will do some clean up here and there a big update to the database is in the works. Right now you'll note that links to the Software Library filter the list based on "popular" software in an effort to improve performance and filter out some of the less helpful entries in the database. We have a rather complex algorithm to determine "popular" which is being refined, but the goal is to reduce the >50k listings down to the most relevant ~15k.

The sponsor of the site, Dell KACE, has a feature in its K1000 Systems Management Appliance that let's users opt-in to anonymously share inventory data. With the exception of what Mac software we have listed, the raw inventory data collected is essentially the details of installed software scraped from the Add/Remove Programs (ARP) area of the Windows Registry. This information was exposed on AppDeploy as a "Software Knowledge Base" which was separate from the "Package Knowledge Base" where tips were collected. We've obviously merged the two but the actual ARP data is currently a bit hidden behind a "Inventory Record" button near the top of the page. As a result, you may find that there are many listings that appear to have no content, but what we do have for these seemingly empty listings is varying amounts of ARP data you can get to by clicking the "Inventory Record".

We do a lot of normalizing of the data to try to merge similar titles and company names so there are fewer variations of the same name (with varying degrees of success). One decision we made to help clean up our software database during the migration was to exclude any inventory records that had been contributed by only a single system. This turned out to have a huge affect on the volume of records migrated and over 45,000 software title/versions were dropped. Now keep in mind all we have on these 45,000 titles are varying degrees of ARP data, so we felt nothing significant was being lost. I tell you this because we have reconsidered that decision after many complaints such as, "Why was super-rare-odd-app version 18.3 on AppDeploy but is not on ITNinja?"

Especially as these Inventory Records serve as the basis for establishing listings in the Software Library, we are working to bring these 45k titles back soon while we continue to work on cleaning up the large database we do have. We hopeful that the filtering capabilities of the new Software Browse page will make finding things easy despite the presence of some messy database entries. 

In development right now is a wizard that will let you easilly add new entries to the Software Library (right now there is a manual process fed by a simple request form). So watch for that too!