I wrote an app, to make using Microsoft’s converter tool easier

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I was initially converting the program 7-Zip to the Microsoft Store (still coming, eventually), when I became extremely frustrated with Microsoft’s Desktop App Converter tool. It had no graphical interface, just a big PowerShell script which I had to pass the perfect variables to, in one command, for it to work. Then, if my finished package needed changes to the App Name or deleting a few files from the package (e.g. the old uninstaller tool, not needed in a Microsoft Store package), I needed to re-package the app with a different tool, and then re-sign it with another tool.

Overall, it took me hours to package the app, make necessary changes, and repackage it – and I couldn’t imagine doing it over and over again every time a new version of 7-Zip (or any other app I wanted to convert) was released. So, I wrote a UWP app to generate the commands for me. It costs $5 with 7-day trial, is on the Microsoft Store, and makes converting desktop apps take minutes with far better documentation.

https://gjsman.tech/DACGUI

I don’t know if Thurrott forums allows advertisements, but this is a front-end for a Microsoft tool which has been talked a lot about on the Windows section of Thurrott’s blog, so I think it is fitting. Hopefully this app will help more developers get their Win32 apps on the Windows Store.

Comments (14)

14 responses to “I wrote an app, to make using Microsoft’s converter tool easier”

  1. Paul Thurrott

    Given the nature of the tool, I'm OK with this. I had to really look at it to be sure :) But ... yes.

  2. ErichK

    Congrats on coming out with this app. I've used the Desktop App Converter so far on two games that I wrote myself in order to get them into the store, and the process was tricky to say the least.

    • pbsie

      In reply to ErichK:

      I hope it helps! If you need any assistance with the app, I wrote quite a bit of documentation to supplement and help explain Microsoft's documentation on the website, and you have my public email there too. :)

  3. skane2600

    I haven't performed the conversion but I've read the description and I was surprised how convoluted it was. IMO just another indication of Microsoft's lack of commitment to UWP.

    • pbsie

      In reply to skane2600:

      My app, or Microsoft's app?


      Assuming Microsoft's app, yeah, it is... convoluted. Technically complete, but convoluted. I remember converting 7-Zip (not on store yet), and it said if I needed to make changes to the package after using the DAC (which I did), I needed to make the changes and run MakeAppx - another complicated tool. And then I did that, but the package wouldn't install because I needed to run SignTool now - the documentation didn't tell me that.

  4. acemod13

    Well... I wasn't that confused with the Desktop App Converter. Although you could simply make an AppxManifest file and then use MakeAppx to pack the file. I only use MakeAppx nowadays for the game I am developing (which I am moving it to a new engine) since most of the work is done already. I only need to do a minor edit to the manifest file (to change the version number) and run the packager. Still, even though the Converter is more of a run-once-and-forget-it, the tool is quite handy.

    • pbsie

      In reply to acemod13:

      Even if you use MakeAppx, you also need to use SignTool, which is also complicated for beginners. Do they know they need to provide 123456 as a certificate password? Took me forever to figure out stuff like that in Microsoft's documentation.


      "I only need to do a minor edit to the manifest file (to change the version number) and run the packager." - My tool generates commands for the DAC because you kind of (in some cases) need to re-run it when you update your application itself (i.e. new feature). You could just copy-paste the updated executables into the PackageFiles, but then you risk missing registry keys if your app installer set any new ones, and potentially missing dependencies. Nonetheless, this is why my app generates the Re-Package and Re-Sign commands, which do MakeAppx + SignTool.

  5. TheJoeFin

    This video might be interesting to you, it is all about modern app packaging from Build 2018.


    https://youtu.be/FKCX4Rzfysk

    • pbsie

      In reply to TheJoeFin:

      I have watched that already, and intend to support MSIX the day it comes out, if Microsoft has their documentation written enough.


      The Desktop App Converter, as far as I know, will still be used with MSIX. Visual Studio might ship their own (finally) official GUI for MSIX... but that is still months off, which is where my app fills the gap for now.

  6. jimchamplin

    Very nice! And I'm happy to hear the news that 7zip is coming to the store!


    Quite honestly, MS needs to release a tool that will install applications into an AppX container for end-users so that we can safely install our own software. It clearly couldn't be as secure as the container used for Store apps since no work would have been done to work within the limitations of the sandbox, but it would be safer and cleaner than the wild west that is an arbitrary setup app.

  7. pbsie

    I'm trying to figure out if the Dev Center is broken... because it appears I have 0 takers of even the trial version except myself. I thought I was more successful than that on here...?


    Just trying to figure out if that is a real result or if the Dev Center is hiding something.

  8. pbsie

    In reply to wingsio:

    What programmer wrote this? Must be from somewhere in China...

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