Management Pack Formats
Management packs are written in .xml files that follow a particular schema. You can create .xml files by using any XML editor or by using the Authoring console. You can also create and modify management packs in a management group by using the Operations console. When a management pack is exported from the management group, it is stored in the same XML format.
Management Pack Schema
The schema for a management pack is defined in the ManagementPackSchema.xsd file that is installed in the MP Schema folder with the Authoring console. Knowledge of the schema is only required if the management pack is edited directly by using an XML editor. When you use the Authoring console, you are rarely exposed to this schema. Wizards are available for creating common elements, and custom user interface pages are available for common modules. Direct XML editing is only required for configuring modules and workflows that do not have custom UI pages. The XML for defining complex data types might be required, and the schema for these data types is provided in the Schema Type Reference (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=192053).
Sealed Management Packs
When a management pack is sealed, it is converted to a binary file that has an MP extension. Either the sealed or the unsealed version of a management pack can be installed to a management group, but both cannot be installed at the same time.
Sealing a management pack is not a valid strategy for hiding information from users. You can export any sealed management pack from the management group giving you full access to its XML code. A management pack should never contain sensitive information such as passwords.
Sealed management packs have the following characteristics:
The contents of the management pack cannot be modified
Sealed management packs cannot be changed. Changes must be made to the XML version of the file which is then sealed again with the same certificate. Such an update can only be installed in the same management group if the updated management pack is backward compatible.
Only sealed management packs enforce version control when an updated version of the management pack is installed. If the management pack is unsealed, the new version is always installed regardless of its backward compatibility.
Enables the management pack to be referenced by other management packs
Management packs can only reference another management pack if the management pack that is referenced is sealed. This requirement ensures that a modification to a management pack cannot break other management packs that reference it. Because sealed management packs maintain version control, any referencing management packs ensures that updates to the sealed management pack are backward compatible.
When to seal a management pack
Management packs do not all have to be sealed. You can install the unsealed version of a management pack in a management group. The following criteria list when a management pack must be sealed:
Management packs that are referenced by other management packs must be sealed. You might want to create common elements such as groups or modules that are used by other management packs for different applications. The application management packs do not have to be sealed, but the management packs that contain the shared elements must be.
Any management packs sent to external customers must be sealed. In addition to ensuring that the customer cannot modify the contents of the management pack, it ensures that any modifications they make are made through overrides in a different management pack. This lets you provide updates to the management pack without affecting the customer’s modifications.
Management packs that are shared by multiple groups must be sealed. This ensures that each group makes any modifications through overrides in their own management pack. Each group cannot make modifications that affect the other group.
The process for sealing a management pack is provided in Sealing a Management Pack.