Many people say that intelligence is what differentiates humans from animals. The capacity for logic, understanding, self-awareness, learning, and communication is special, but there are many examples in the animal kingdom that prove these skills are not unique to us.

Take Kanzi, a bonobo who can understand up to 3,000 English words (probably more than me). He uses a symbol sheet with 348 items to communicate and is aware of his actions. For example, he showed his symbol sheet to point at marshmallow and fire. After his keeper gave him marshmallows and some matches, he prepared a fire, lit the matches to ignite it, and toasted the marshmallows. It’s pretty amazing stuff. And we keep discovering more and more examples that animals are more intelligent that we thought.

So what makes us unique if it is not intelligence? It is the knowledge that surrounds us — the fact that each generation does not (literally) need to reinvent the wheel but can start where the previous generation has ended. It is extelligence — our collective intelligence and knowledge that exist outside our own minds. This is what really pushes our limits and enables us to reach to new heights. This is the reason why I’ve always been a huge believer in community and in sharing and working together to achieve more.

Citrix Optimizer 1.0 – Where Are Our Limits?

When Citrix Optimizer was released in December 2017, we knew there were limits to what we could achieve. We wanted to build an official, supported tool to optimize operating systems and help them work better with Citrix solutions. With optimization, there is usually a trade-off between performance and stability. Because our optimization templates are used by thousands of customers, we decided to focus on making sure our templates were very robust and compatible with the majority of environments. Even with conservative templates, we have seen impressive results about Windows 10 performance from the ICT-R team, as you can see in this report.

We could easily continue to optimize. However, with each optimization, it would be harder to ensure that we could meet the requirements of every customer. We could add different levels of templates, ranging from very stable to very aggressive, but we would never strike the right balance for everyone.

We also wanted to add different types of templates — best practices analyzers, templates to help you with specific configuration or help to make your environment more secure. It is not that complicated to add all of that. But keeping it alive and updated with feedback from the community was a completely different beast.

Citrix Optimizer v2.0 – Where Are We Going?

We discussed these limitations very early during our kick-off meetings for Citrix Optimizer v2 and agreed that a solution was not too complicated. All we needed to do was ask our awesome community for help. We’d provide a tool that is easy to use, help when needed, and simply step out of the way and let the Citrix extelligence surprise us.

Today, I’m very proud to announce that we have taken the first steps on this path by adding new features to Optimizer v2 that we hope will start the Cambrian Explosion of Citrix Optimizer templates and take us to the next stage on our journey.

Citrix Optimizer v2.0 – Template Builder

The first feature we have added is template builder. While it was possible to create your own templates in v1, it required modifying XML files manually and was not easy to do. The community has actually been doing this since the release date (and people like Dennis Span have made it easier by providing amazing documentation on how to create custom templates). However we wanted to make it as simple as possible and available to everyone.

The template builder provides a simple, easy-to-use interface where you can create new templates or modify existing ones. I’ve always loved how intuitive and easy to use the user interface is (it was designed by our expert UX designer Luis Salinas, so this doesn’t count as self-praise). This feature is no exception.

Citrix Optimizer v2.0 – Marketplace

The template builder feature has been designed for two different scenarios.

First, we wanted to enable enterprise customers and partners to modify our existing templates for their requirements, adding optimizations that are specific for their environment.

The second use case was for the community — CTPs, CTAs, and CUGC members and other community heroes who want to share their knowledge and contribute to our Citrix extelligence. For these use cases, we wanted to not only make it easier to create new templates, but also provide a mechanism to distribute and share these templates.

That brings us to the second big feature of Optimizer v2: a new marketplace where you can download or update your templates. The only marketplace available out of the box is an official Citrix Marketplace, where you can find all templates created and curated by Citrix.

While Citrix Marketplace will contain only templates from Citrix, you can create your own marketplace or use any third-party, untrusted marketplaces by clicking on the “Add New Marketplace” option.

It’s important to note that to support the marketplace feature, we had to make changes to the XML schema of templates. While we were at it, we decided to completely review the current schema and make more changes that we think make Optimizer better (including support for template auto-selected as described later). As a result, templates in Optimizer v2 have different names than in v1, and the internal schema is also different.

So if you have developed your own templates for v1, you will need to upgrade them to v2. To make this easier for you, we have created a script ConvertV1toV2Templates.ps1 that can make this conversion for you. We apologize for any inconvenience and promise this is the last major change to the XML schema. You can download this conversion script here.

Citrix Optimizer v2.0 – Miscellaneous improvements

As expected, we have also added new templates in this release:

  • Added support for Windows 10 build 1809
  • Added support for Windows Server 2019 build 1809

Finally, we have added support for template auto-selection (available in PowerShell mode only). If you execute Optimizer in PowerShell mode and don’t specify -Template/-Source argument, Optimizer will automatically find the best available template and use it. That means that if you execute Optimizer from custom script/SCCM or are using awesome community project BIS-F, only required argument is -Mode.

Your Feedback Helps Make It Happen

Thank you for your continuous support of Citrix Optimizer — we have received a tremendous amount of feedback in the last year and are very happy that we can keep working on this tool and making it better.

Do you like this release? Are there any features in Citrix Optimizer that you are missing (or do you just want to tell us know how awesome it is)? Make sure to leave comments or tweet about your experience to me at @MartinZugec)!

And, of course, here are a couple of links to help you get started:

As always, your Citrix Optimizer team — Martin, Alexey, Manoj and Luis — thanks you for your support. And a special thanks to Marco Sap for his ongoing support and great suggestions. Keep them coming!

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