Fling Developer Spotlight – Chris Halstead

Chris Halstead is one of our most prolific Fling developers, with six released Flings, and two in the works! Chris is an End User Architect, and has been with VMware for a little over three years. During this time, he developed the following Flings:

  • App Volumes Toolbox – This utility connects to App Volumes 2.x, 3.x and Horizon Air Hybrid-Mode (Enzo) environments, pulling data from the native REST APIs into a single interface for ease of management.
  • VMware Access Point Deployment Utility – This utility is a wrapper for the VMware OVF Tool for deploying the VMware Access Point Appliance. It allows you to input settings in a GUI; the utility will create and execute the properly formatted OVF Tool input string for you. It also allows settings to be saved to an XML file and later imported to reduce how much data needs to be manually entered.
  • Horizon View Events Database Export Utility – This utility allows administrators to easily apply very detailed filtering to the data and export it to a .CSV file. You can filter on time range, event severity, event source, session type (application or desktop), usernames and event types.
  • App Volumes Backup Utility – This Fling allows VMware App Volumes AppStacks and Writable Volumes to be backed up and recovered.
  • View Auto-Connection Utility – The View Auto-Connection Utility allows you to connect the VMware View Client automatically into a View desktop or an application pool when the system starts up.
  • Horizon View Event Notifier – This tool connects to one or more existing Horizon View Event Database(s) and allows the user to customize which types of alerts to be notified on. It can be run from any Windows based system and it collects and sends the alerts via email (SMTP) to users that are specified during the configuration process.

It’s wonderful working with Chris on his Fling tools, and I was eager to get his perspective to share with you!

Q: What do you do at VMware?
A: I am an EUC Architect for the EUC Technical Marketing team.  We build enablement content for EUC products by working closely with the product teams, many times long before a product is released.   We then deliver this content to the field, and the content is made available on Vault.  We also deliver this content to customers/partners at events, such as Partner Exchange or VMworld.

One aspect of my job is tools, and this is where Flings come in.  I work with customers to find gaps in products and write custom tools to help make operational processes easier.  We are able to share many of these tools through the Flings program.

Q: What is your most memorable moment working at VMware?
A: I would have to say when my first Fling was released!  I had been working on it for one customer, and it was awesome to be able to release it publicly.   I learned so much from that experience and was surprised how detailed the security review process is for Flings.  It was a very proud moment when it was publicly available on the Flings site – something I had wanted to do for quite a long time.

Q: You have developed 8 Flings now! Clearly, you see value into putting time into Flings. Why are Flings so important to you?
A: I was a VMware customer for a long time, and I have a good understanding of where our customers come from and how they use our products.  All of my Flings are directly related to my experience as a customer.  I look at a product and try to find a way some operational process can be made easier for the customer.   Examples are providing an easier way to query and export data from the View Events Database, providing a GUI to deploy Access Point or a GUI to run App Volumes AppCapture instead of running the command line.  It is really important for me to allow our customers to have the best experience with our products as possible.   Flings are great for me as well as I have never taken a formal application development class–I am self-taught, and really enjoy the creative aspect of building Flings and sharing these tools.

Q: What kind of feedback have you received from customers for your Flings?
A: It’s a great feeling when you release a Fling and customers agree that it was a great idea and something they will use.  I typically build the Flings in a bit of a vacuum so it is extremely important to get that feedback and validation.  I have received a lot of great feedback from customers saying my Flings made our products easier to deploy or easier to use so that is a great feeling.  I have also received a lot of feedback on ideas for features to add to existing Flings as well as individual issues.  The hardest part is finding time to add features to existing Flings and work with customers on resolving issues they are having as most of the work is done on my free time.

Q: What does innovation mean to you?
A: Coming up with a new and, hopefully, better way to do something than what is currently available.   Innovation is core to the Flings program as we are all providing our customers new ways to use VMware products.  For me it is focused on how to provide easier ways for the customer to consume the VMware EUC solutions, breaking any operational process barriers down.  I really enjoy thinking out of the box to develop innovative tools which customers can use to solve their issues.

Q: What is your biggest concern in the world today?
A: Not enough people have the proper skills required for Automation/DevOps.  Scripting/development skills are becoming more and more critical as processes are automated and more companies are embracing a DevOps culture.  Many more people with this skillset will be required in the near future.   This is a concern of mine as well as an opportunity for many.

Q: What do you enjoy when you’re not working?
A:  Spending time with my family and friends, traveling, running with my wife, and working on DIY projects around the house.

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