Creating a Shim/Fix Using Compatibility Administrator


In the earlier article on Analyzing the ACT Reports, we learnt on how we can identify the application Compatibility issues in your machine/organization. Even If you are not keen in generating an app-report,  this method described in this article will help you learn how to mitigate an application using shims.

The Compatibility Administrator tool enables you to resolve many of your potential application-compatibility issues before deploying a new version of Windows in your organization. This tool enables you to create customized compatibility fixes, compatibility modes, AppHelp messages, and compatibility databases.

Process to Fix an Application – The steps involved in fixing an application using this tool is quite easy. First launch the application, test its functionality. If your enviroment is a locked-down one, then test the application as a Standard User. Identify the issues which arise. Use the Compatibility Administrator tool to create a new Shim database (.sdb), select the compatibility modes and fixes for this application. Apply this shim and test the application again. If the app works and responds fine, deploy the same on the machine.

Compatibility Administrator Process

Step 1: Install the Application Compatibility Toolkit and Start the Compatibility Administrator. You will need to run this as administrator

Launch Compatibility Administrator

As mentioned earlier, This tool  provides individual compatibility fixes, compatibility modes, and AppHelp messages which can help you resolve specific compatibility issues. Right click on the New Database, you will find these below options.

Creating an Application Fix Compatibility Administrator

Step 2: In this example, we will look at how you can fix an application. So lets choose Application Fix here. In this below dialog, give the application details and the executable you would wanna fix.

Create New Application Fix

Step 3: When you press the next button, you will get to see the list of the compatibility modes listed by default. If you have an issue with just the version in-compatiblity then choose the version in which the application was working earlier! You can also do a “Test Run” of the app.

OS Modes - Compatibility Administrator

Step 4: As of now, lets not choose any OS mode here. You can do it in the next window (when you have combination of shims to be choosed). As shown below, you have lots of shims to choose from. Select all the shims which would fix your application (based on the analysis you did during the Application Tests or from the Analyzed Report).

Available Shims - Compatibility Administrator

As you can see above, few of the shims do have parameters to work with. You can check the ACT Documentation to understand more on these individual shims. Check out these 2 articles, where I have written on how you can use Parameters for File and Registry Re-Direction shims (VirtualRegistry and CorrectFilePaths).

Step 5: Let me select the shims, which will resolve the issues with the application I am currently fixing. You can click on the Show Selected Button, which will list out all the shims you have selected.

Selected Shims - Compatibility Administrator

Summary Fixed Application - Compatibility Administrator

Click on Finish. This will give you the complete summary of the application and the fixes applied.

Summary Application - Compatibility Administrator

The Windows installs a System Application Fix database for use with the Compatibility Administrator. This database can be updated through Windows Update, and is stored in the %WINDIR% \AppPatch directory. The custom databases which we create are automatically stored in the %WINDIR% \AppPatch\Custom directory and are installed by using the Sdbinst.exe tool provided with the Compatibility Administrator.

Step 6: Now you need to save this shim database file, and install it. You can either install it by, right click on the shim and press install button, or by using a command-line option.

Install Shims

Or using Command Line arguments – sdbinst.exe C:\msigeek.sdb

sdbinst Command Line

You also have an option to use a query tool that enables you to search for installed fixes on your local computers.

Query Database

You can read these articles to understand more on how to create shims for specific scenarios.

You must keep it in mind that, shims would just pass the condition (in simple words.. just a return true). This does not ensure or simulate the platform. So only when you are sure that, the application functionality can be achieved and this condition is just a road-block.. you can use shims to mitigate these issues!