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Citrix NFuse 1.5: Part 2 - The Role Of The ICA Client

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In this article, Windows Thin Client expert Todd Mathers presents Part 2 of his three-part series on the Citrix NFuse 1.5 product. Here, he concentrates on the ICA client and the role that it plays in an NFuse implementation. In particular, he looks at the different kinds of clients that are supported and the new ICA client detection and installation implementation.
In this article, Windows Thin Client expert Todd Mathers presents Part 2 of his three-part series on the Citrix NFuse 1.5 product. Here, he concentrates on the ICA client and the role that it plays in an NFuse implementation. In particular, he looks at the different kinds of clients that are supported and the new ICA client detection and installation implementation.

Todd is the author of Windows NT/2000 Thin Client Solutions: Implementing Terminal Services and Citrix MetaFrame (New Riders, 2000).

The Citrix ICA Web Clients

A common misconception that people have when they first begin working with NFuse is that a user requires only a Web browser to access published applications within a server farm. Unfortunately, this is not the case. In addition to a Web browser, the user must have a suitable ICA client. There are actually two different types of ICA clients available from Citrix for use with NFuse:

  • Citrix Application Launching and Embedding (ALE) clients—Four types of ALE clients can be used to connect to an NFuse-published application: an ActiveX control for 32-bit Internet Explorer, two types of Netscape plug-ins (16- and 32-bit), and a Java applet. ALE clients are actually required to access an application that has been "embedded" in a Web page. ALE clients cannot be used to "launch" applications from a Web page. The advantage of using an ALE client is that the installation requirements are minimal in comparison to a traditional Citrix ICA client. Both the ActiveX and Java applets require no installation on the client part, while the plug-ins require that you download and run a simple setup file.

  • Traditional Citrix ICA clients—These ship with a "helper" application that can be used to access Web-enabled applications. Not all Citrix clients support NFuse applications, and I will look at this more closely shortly. These "helper" clients are required to allow an application to be "launched" from a Web page. Helper clients cannot be used to access "embedded" applications.

Regardless of the client, the basic function remains the same: to process the contents of the ICA file and to establish the connection to the appropriate published application. Figure 1 demonstrates the role that both the browser and the ICA client play in a user's NFuse session.

Figure 1

Web browser/ICA client role in an NFuse session

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