There hasn’t been a release of UDI since MDT 2010 Update 1 and with a complete redesign of the designer and wizard you may not recognize it other than the name on the home page of the designer.Chris Adams has put together a good blog post explaining the goals that we came up with when we first sat down to decide what we were going to build for the next version of UDI. The Beta product actually ended up being very close to what our goals were. In this blog post I will explore at a high level the new features and functionality that are available with MDT 2012 Beta 2 UDI Designer and in later blog posts I will explain those and additional features in more depth.

The UDI designer has been rewritten from the ground up making a number of new features available along the way. The layout of the designer has completely changed with a more modern look and feel making use of a ribbon, drag and drop features, as well as making a number of other usability improvements over MDT 2010 Update 1 version. In this section I will layout at a high level the new features and functionality of the designer.

Additional Scenarios

Before we talk about additional scenarios lets get some terminology out of the way which will make more sense when I describe the flow below as well as the wizard in later posts.

  • Scenarios: A scenario in this context is tied to a type of deployment, such as New Computer, and is made up of one or more stage.
  • Stage: A stage is comprised of a set of pages, resides under a scenario, and is what is specified when running the wizard which I will talk more about in the wizard section below
  • Page: A page is pretty self explanatory. Pages are what get configured from the designer and added to stages for presentation from the wizard.

Previously UDI only really offered 2 scenarios, Bare Metal and Refresh, for deployments which were really the same flow of pages just with a few small tweaks. That is changing with MDT 2012. There are 3 scenarios available from the designer out of the box, with one or more stage(s) under each scenario. UDI now offers the Replace scenario in addition to Refresh and Bare Metal, although the Bare Metal scenario is renamed to the New Computer scenario to align with MDT’s terminology. A scenario can have multiple stages under it for example the New Computer scenario has NEWCOMPUTER and NEWCOMPUTER.Prestaged which I will talk about in more detail when I outline stages under the Wizard.

Now I mentioned that there are additional scenarios that are available out of the box, but what about custom scenarios. There is a way to do this which I will explore in future blog posts, but if you want to add additional scenarios to the existing ones this cannot be done currently through the designer. If this is functionality that you think that you would take advantage of, please either leave me a comment, provide feedback through Connect or on the MDT 2012 Beta 2 survey that should be coming out shortly.

Page Library

The Page Library shows all the pages which are currently loaded in the designer. When loading a configuration file all of the available pages which are defined in the configuration file are displayed to the page library. The page library shows the page types in alphabetical order and each of the page instances under the page type. For instance you may want 2 different welcome pages for 2 different scenarios or stages in which case the Welcome page type would show in alphabetical order in the page library and then under the Welcome page type it would show the 2 different Welcome page instances. Additionally each page instance will show how many times it is used throughout the flow on the right side of each page and when you hover over a page in the library it shows a picture of the page as well as showing which stages that page is used in.

 

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Flow

Now the administrator can see the layout of all the available scenarios that will be made available to end users during deployments in a visual flow. Administrators can also drag and drop pages from the page library to the flow. The number on that page will then be incremented and updated to show all of the stages that the page is located in from the page in the page library. Additionally a page can be rearranged by dragging and dropping it in the appropriate spot from within the stage the page is located in. I will try to put together a few videos showing this in future posts.

Scenarios can be expanded to see the stages and pages contained in each scenario. A picture of each page is displayed along with a number representing the order each page will be displayed in during runtime of a stage. Stages can be previewed to make sure that the pages contained in that stage are configured correctly by selecting the Preview option on the right side of the stage. Additionally the wizard can be displayed in preview mode by first selecting a stage and then selecting Preview in the ribbon.

 

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Extensible Designer

I will devote a future blog post to this topic but I would like to mention that this new version of the designer can be extended by adding in additional pages into the designer. If you would like to extend the designer and wizard with additional pages this can be developed using the SDK, the documentation for which is currently in the works, but which a sample of is currently available. To get a head start please check out the SDK directory directly under the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit installation directory. The SDK contains code for a couple of simple sample pages which can be compiled for use with the designer, for configuring which locations to make available in a dropdown list, and for use with the wizard, for allowing the end user to select from among the configured locations from the dropdown on the page.

 

Tighter Integration with Your Environment

There are a number of improvements that make it easier when needing to work in conjunction with Configuration Manager and your AD environment. At a high level these include:

  • Validation to determine the site server connection version. This is particularly useful when working with package/programs as well as the new App Model available from Configuration Manager 2012.
  • Support for retrieving Operating System Images (WIM files) and Operating System Installers (Setup Bits) directly from your Configuration Manager site server.
  • Easier configuration of domains and OUs by connecting to AD. This functionality was in 2010 Update 1, however it has been improved in this version.


I will be delving in-depth into the features and functionality that I mentioned in this post as well as into others that I did not mention. In my next post I will explore at a high-level the new features and functionality that is available from the wizard so keep posted.