What is the difference in a network vs. standalone installation?

Answer: The following information about network vs. standalone installation is taken from the Installation Guide.  It includes details on setting up the program shortcuts in a network client / server environment.

Express Technology software may be installed in a Network or Standalone environment.  In addition, it may be used in other environments such as terminal emulation or application hosting provided the license permits.

Standalone

The Standalone environment consists of a situation where the application runs on a single computer. This computer works as the Server and the Client by processing the application and maintaining all data.  Since a Standalone computer does handle all data and the application, it should be a reasonably fast computer with adequate memory, processing speed and disk space.  In this environment, you simply need to install the database engine and application on the standalone computer.

Network With Server & Client Workstations

The Network environment is made up of two or more computers. These computers communicate with each other and share resources.  Express Technology uses the Client/Server model in a Network environment. The Client/Server model is comprised of a computer that acts as a Server to one or more computers over the network. The Server houses data and handles data requests from Client computers. Clients (Workstations) are the computers that manipulate the data sent to and from the Server. These computers run independent of the Server in all respects other than to request and send data to the SQL Server.

In this environment, you need to install the database engine and application on the Server Only.  Each network workstation that will access and run the application is setup with a simple shortcut as outlined below.

Client Workstation Setup (Network Environment)

To run the applications from a client workstation, you need to have the ExpressTech folder on the server shared with read / write permission.  You will first test run ExpressMaintenance at the server and exit the program to insure the communication is working between the program and the database engine.

Once you are sure that the server computer is setup according to the guidelines above, proceed to the client workstations.  Create a shortcut on the workstation pointing to the Maintenance.exe file on the server in the Express Tech folder.  Follow one of the following two methods below for directing the workstation to the SQL Server and SQL Database.

1. Ini File Method (preferred and simplest)

On the server where the Maintenance.exe file resides, run ExpressMaintenance one time to have the database created.  When you exit ExpressMaintenance, the ExpressMaintenance.ini file is automatically created in the folder with Maintenance.exe.  Open the ExpressMaintenance.ini file with notepad to insure it includes the correct SQL Server and SQL Database information.   Below is an example:

[Connection Info]
SQLServer=MyServerIP or MyServerName
SQLDatabase=ExpressMaintenance
UseWindowsLogin=No     (optional line, see note below)

If necessary, edit the ExpressMaintenance.ini file to point to the correct Server and Database.  Test by running the program again from the server.  You can place the ExpressMaintenance.ini file in a different folder if desired, see “security restrictions & concerns” topic below.

Next, at each client computer, create a desktop shortcut to the Maintenance.exe file on the server.  When ExpressMaintenance is executed from any workstation, it will check the ExpressMaintenance.ini file that resides in the same folder as Maintenance.exe for the SQL Server and Database connection information.

If the workstation shortcut fails to work, check the ExpressMaintenance.ini file and then proceed to the Troubleshooting section below.

Note: The “UseWindowsLogin=No” line is optional and is used to tell the program not to use Window’s login.  Click here for more details.

2. Shortcut Parameters Method (alternative, not recommended)

This method is recommended only in rare situations where multiple databases for ExpressMaintenance will be used.  Right click on the workstation shortcut and select “Properties”.  You will need to add two parameters to the Target field.  These parameters are:

Server Name or IP  and the Database Name.

With ExpressMaintenance, the target field might appear as:

“G:\ExpressTech\Maintenance.exe”  “ServerName”  “ExpressMaintenance”

where ServerName is the actual name or IP address of your server computer.

If you are using UNC naming, the target field might appear as: “\\MyServer\C:\ExpressTech\Maintenance.exe”  “Nameor IPAddress”  “ExpressMaintenance”

where NameorIPAddress is the IP address of your server computer.

Security Restriction & Concerns

We recommend that you simply create the ExpressMaintenance.ini file in the same folder where Maintenance.exe resides and make the folder or file read / write available to users.  However, in the event you have security restrictions or concerns that do not permit making the folder or file read / write available, there is another alternative.

You can place the ExpressMaintenance.ini file in a different folder or a local folder.  On the workstation shortcut to Maintenance.exe, simply edit the “Start In” property to point to the folder where you wish to locate the ExpressMaintenance.ini file.  ExpressMaintenance will check the Start In folder first and then check the Maintenance.exe folder.

You can place the ExpressMaintennce.chm help file in a different folder or local a folder.  On the workstation shortcut to Maintenance.exe, simply edit the “Start In” property to point to the folder where you wish to locate the ExpressMaintenance.chm help file.   ExpressMaintenance will check the “Start In” folder first and then check the Maintenance.exe folder.

In addition, the Maintenance.exe program must be able to read / write the ExpressMaintenance.naf network access file (licensing file).  In this case, the same file must be accessed by all users in order to verify licensing and concurrent users.  By default, ExpressMaintenance looks for this file in the same folder where Maintenance.exe is located.  However, you can specify another folder for the file to reside.  To change this, run ExpressMaintenance and go to Administration / Data Formatting Defaults and insert the desired folder at the “Network Access File Folder” prompt.  This file must be read / write available to all users.

Troubleshooting

This simple method of only having the program (Maintenance.exe) on the server works extremely well.  It means that updates only need to be applied to a single computer, the server.  It also allows for access to multiple servers and creation of unlimited databases.  You should find this method easy for setting up client workstations.  However, if you are unable to run the program from the client workstation using these shortcuts, check the following items:

  1. Make sure the server is running and ExpressMaintenance runs at the server.
  2. Make sure you have the ExpressMaintenance.ini file setup correctly in the same folder where Maintenance.exe resides (default is C:\ExpressTech).
  3. Make sure the folder where the Maintenance.exe file resides is set for read / write permission as the program must read and write to the ExpressMaintenance.ini and ExpressMaintenance.naf files (see security restrictions & concerns topic below).
  4. Insure that the shortcut points to the correct Maintenance.exe file.  A common mistake is to install multiple copies of the program (Maintenance.exe) on one or more computers in different folders.  All workstation shortcuts should be pointing to the same Maintenance.exe file on the application server.
  5. Try using the server IP address rather than the server name in the ExpressMaintenance.ini file.
  6. Insure that TCP/IP is installed on the client workstation and server.
  7. If you are using your own full version of MS SQL Server, you may need to set certain server properties.  Please see the tech bulletin on installing on existing SQL server.
  8. Insure that the Microsoft Data Access Components (MDAC) are installed (usually automatically installed with Windows98 and above, but not always).   For more details, see Installing & Testing SQL below.
  9. Try creating a manual ODBC DSN in windows to establish a connection to the SQL server.  For more information, see Creating ODBC DSN below.

Installing & Testing MDAC

If the above process does not allow you to successfully connect to the server / database, the problem is in your network or the Microsoft Data Access Components are not installed on the client workstation.   You can install the MDAC directly from the Express Technology CD.  You may need a specialist to setup your network using TCP/IP which is the industry standard.

You can get the MDAC detection utility to determine your MDAC version.  To download the MDAC detection utility, click here.  You can download the MDAC installation program or learn more about MDAC from Microsoft.  For more details on MDAC, go to the downloads page.

Creating ODBC DSN

You can check for MDAC and force a TCP/IP connection to the server by creating an ODBC Data Source. On some computers (especially Windows 98), it is necessary to force a manual TCP/IP connection one time to activate the SQL communications.  This can be done by creating an ODBC DSN – click here for detailed instructions.

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