In the past several years, many of the old wine front-ends that existed have been abandoned, with active development concentrated on the few that remain. Even then, neither prefix management nor workaround recipes are mutually compatible across the different front-ends.
Think of this page as a working draft (feel free to edit it) for a unified approach to these problems.
For a list that includes all of the active front-ends, see Third Party Applications. Since winetricks is arguably the lowest-level and communicates the most with us at wine, they would be a prime candidate for patches. Contributions and ideas are welcome from any of the projects though (so long as any code has a compatible license).
For different wrappers to recognize prefixes created by each other, some sort of standard is necessary. While other methods are possible (a registry? gulp), the current method used in at least winetricks is pretty sensible.
First, a single directory is created in the standard user data directory, $XDG_DATA_HOME/wineprefixes, then individual prefixes are installed within the wineprefixes directory. If a user chooses to install a prefix elsewhere, then a symlink can be added to this directory instead.
On systems where $XDG_DATA_HOME is not set by default, front-ends should use $HOME/.local/share/ by default
Prefix & Recipe Metadata
To keep prefix names simple and stay true to unix design ideas, any prefix metadata should be kept in plaintext (UTF-8) files and somehow confined to the wine-prefix, or at least wine-related directories. These files will hopefully also be as minimal as possible, and new metadata tags should not be added lightly.
Winetrick's current approach is a good foundation. Every prefix includes a file named wrapper.cfg (at the top-level of a prefix next to user.reg), which stores the prefix's longer title. Then whenever a new verb is installed in a prefix, metadata specific to the verb is registered in a new file, according to the convention current_prefix/verb_category/verb_name.vars
Here is a list of metadata tags (not necessarily complete or formatted exactly) currently used in at least winetricks and/or PlayOnLinux...
|title||Name of the app (ideally the same as on AppDB)|
|publisher||E.g. "Adobe" or "Electronic Arts"|
|year||Year title was released for PC|
|media||Typically "download" or "dvd"||If empty, the verb may be interpreted as not installable|
|conflicts||A space-separated list of verbs that cannot share the same prefix|
|filen||The filename (and relative path if needed) of the installer||May have multiple tags beginning with n = 1|
|installed_exen||Filename (and rel-path) of a binary installed by the verb||Multiple tags begin with n = 1|
|installed_filen||Filename (and rel-path) of libraries and other files installed||Multiple tags begin with n = 1|
|homepage||The active webpage for the title||Not necessarily the download page or the company's main page|
|unattended||Enter "no" if the verb requires user input||Not using this tag equivalent to "yes"|
|wine_showstoppers||Report number (no pound sign or other text) of a blocking WineHQ bug||Suppresses the verb on menus unless the front-end is in an "advanced" mode|
|wineversion||A version of wine known to work with the recipe||Not required and some front-ends (like winetricks) may ignore it|
Some value strings are parsed by functions and scripts, and special characters like $ or .. may still have their typical shell semantics.
So long as the above guidelines are followed, with all files (or symlinks) maintained in a prefix, front-ends should be able to remove prefixes cleanly and easily. Just don't forget to have your front-end handle symlinks appropriately when deleting a prefix.
Perhaps the main complication is handling any menu items and icons registered with the user's desktop environment. At least on environments that follow the freedesktop specs for desktop entries and menus, this should not be too difficult. A previous suggestion was to have winemenubuilder place .desktop and .directory files in each prefix, then symlink to them from the appropriate folders in the user's environment. The idea was that this way, deleting the prefix would remove the actual files, and under the freedesktop specs, the user's environment should just ignore the dangling symlinks.
However, as long as a front-end's delete procedure can trace symlinks correctly, keeping .desktop files in the user's environment and tracking them with symlinks from the prefix might be cleaner. Since menu entries map one-to-one to a specific command (with unique options and context), sharing menu items between prefixes shouldn't be an issue. For .directory files, a check-and-delete for empty menu folders is worth considering too.
Right now, at least winetricks and PlayOnLinux v4 verbs (aka recipes) consist of a metadata statement followed by a shell script that uses pre-defined functions to carry out the verb. Unfortunately, while the pre-defined functions are used very similarly, they do not form a unified API.
Beyond settling on standard functions for scripts, making the recipe itself declarative as possible would be nice. If a default logical flow could handle most recipes, then only metadata flags and quick shell fragments for exceptional steps would be necessary. A first step towards this might be to include dependency entries in the metadata (some recipes in winetricks already make use of a "conflicts" list).
Finally, if the goal is to offer a single library of recipes, AppDB would arguably be the most natural place to keep them. There hasn't been any discussion of this though, and even if WineHQ were willing to consider the idea, updates or an overhaul of AppDB may be necessary.