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Windows Thread, Sherston Software in Technical; Hello all, I've been given 5 Sherston applications: E-mail Detectives, The Wizard's Apprentice, Crystal Rainforest, Gomez Returns and Mission Control ...
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    Michael's Avatar
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    Sherston Software

    Hello all,

    I've been given 5 Sherston applications:

    E-mail Detectives, The Wizard's Apprentice, Crystal Rainforest, Gomez Returns and Mission Control V2.

    None of these products are MSIs. Checking out Sherton's website, they seem to do CC3 MSIs, so it is possible. Talking with their Technical team, the MSI does exactly what I want it to do - put the bulk of the application on the local C:\ drive and only relevant information on the network server.

    The current discs I have do things the other way round. Put the bulk of the application on the server and create shortcuts to that shared resource. I don't particularly wish to do this, as the site I am at today is 80% wireless and 20% wired so the performance would be rubbish.

    For the most part, it sounds as though the RM CC3 MSIs should work absolutely fine on a standard vanilla network (which this network is), but Sherston won't release the MSI versions because of license restrictions? I was told there was insufficient demand to create standard MSIs, even though Sherston have created RM MSIs. That makes absolutely no sense to me at all.

    So what are my options? Many thanks!

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    contink's Avatar
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    I've had major problems with Sherston stuff lately and not found out the root cause as yet...

    MSI's are generally a waste of time though and instead you're better off using their network disk (which to be honest just copies everything to the server) and then providing a shortcut to the server there... A little extra work is required to edit the config file (can't remember the name) to point to the paths needed but until windows broke something it's worked great for me.

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    SYSMAN_MK's Avatar
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    Yeh I would try using the network disc to install but choose C: as the location.

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    i installed on a test system set the folders up how i wanted they used winstall le to create the MSI not had any issues with the ones above the only one i have a problem is learning about religion

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    CHR1S's Avatar
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    Did the same as Jordan, wininstall to make the MSI and it works fine.

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    sparkeh's Avatar
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    Heh, had to do 'Email detectives' myself today. Also couldn't get an MSI out of them due to licensing. Apparently you need to have a site license before they will let you have one.

    I ended up doing the network install as I didn't have the time to muck around but it isn't satisfactory.

    Quote Originally Posted by SYSMAN_MK View Post
    Yeh I would try using the network disc to install but choose C: as the location.
    Hmm yeah you could make an MSI that performs a network install but installs locally...but is you want a central record store (if you use the record keeping feature) then remember to point this to shared area.

    I don't generally like Sherston stuff myself and is one of the vendors whose software is the most awkward.

    One of my schools recently sent some money Sherton's way for them to install all their software onto our Knowledgebox and run via a web interface. Mostly works great, until one popped up saying that it needed to be installed locally anyway...grrr.

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    tomscaper's Avatar
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    we have the crystal rainforest, like you said we hold this on a public server and share it. We found out some sherston software need specific dll so if u did go this route, we deploy two dll's xobglu16.dll & xobglu32.dll.

    Only other thing could be to use like wininstall le, and create your own msi but point it to the C drive.

    we rarely use the sherston software, but have never had any trouble over the network, cant say we have tried it over wireless.

    Just noticed everyone pretty much saying this lol.

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    we have all of those instaled to network shares with a problem (so long as the kids have read/write access! )

    /edit

    but having re read your post thats probably unhelpful!. I wonder if they need msi's or if you can just do a network install and use a script to copy the folder to each local machine?. scores and history would be then stuck on one machine though.
    Last edited by strawberry; 23rd May 2008 at 03:59 PM.

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    Michael's Avatar
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    Thanks for the feedback guys, it's much appreciated. I just hope Sherston will someday change their policy and create standard MSIs. I am 100% positive they would create more business because of the ease of deployment. It makes perfect sense.

    I would use the discs they've provided if the whole infrastructure was wired, but the majority is wireless. The person I spoke to also acknowledged and agreed that pulling applications across wireless does have its problems.
    Ironically that's how this particular school was setup when I first started and unsurprisingly the network was extremely busy and unreliable. Pulling applications across wireless doesn't work. I'd rather push out an MSI to each workstation so it has its own copy to work from. I've re-worked this network and now everything works consistently and reliably. It's just frustrating when a well known software vendor like Sherston tell me rubbish that there isn't enough demand for standard MSIs.

    It just makes me think that if I was in the software business I would always develop MSIs. The support costs would be minimal and standard MSIs can be converted/modified so they're RM compatible using the Application Wizard anyway!!

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    I work on Sherston's Technical Helpdesk so hopefully can add something here.

    We have used several installers over the years. Most titles over 3 years old can make use of the Sherston Network Installer CD. This is a separate utility that simply allows application data and save data paths to be specified. Anything released since 2004/05 has an installer on the product CD that does the same thing. A summary of which products use which installer is here
    http://shop.sherston.com/services/te...patibility.pdf

    I absolutely agree with the comments about wireless networks, our CD's can be bandwidth hungry. Our online services work extremely well across wireless networks however.

    We started making MSI's for RM CC3 about 3 years ago and they are fantastically popular. They're available separately from the "normal" product CD and have been designed to only work on RM CC3 networks. The network/drive paths for CC3 are hard coded in the installer which makes them an absolute breeze for non-technical staff to deploy (no need to modify the folder structure and no need to use the Application Wizard). It is true that we only make these MSI's freely available to customers with a site license.

    I'm happy to take feedback on what you would like from a generic MSI. Do you want to be able to specify the application data path and user save data? Or would you want the application data path to always be C:\Program Files\Sherston ?
    Michael, if you can contact us on support@sherston.co.uk I'll see if I can get those 5 MSI's built and sent to you.

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    SimpleSi's Avatar
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    My standard way of installing Sherston sofware is copy whole CD to local machine and run setup from there.

    Another tech once told me you don't need the whole CD but since time is my main enemy, I do it this way.

    AFAIK this method has worked for all titles I've come across.

    regards

    Simon

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    eean's Avatar
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    I do like Sherston software and, where there is a choice, I'll tend to purchase from Sherston because it is very easy to make a MSI and all the programs follow the same procedure. All the files for the install are program's folder and no registry keys are used - therefore, you don't need to do any before/after snap shots.
    I install the program to c:\program files using the normal install. Then edit 'savepath' in Sherston.ini file to a folder on the network (which requires RW access).
    Then, I use WinInstall (but any MSI creator will do) and dump all the files from that folder into a MSI.

    Quote Originally Posted by strawberry
    we have all of those instaled to network shares with a problem (so long as the kids have read/write access! )
    You only need to give RW access to the saves folder. You can leave the rest as read only.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sherston View Post
    I'm happy to take feedback on what you would like from a generic MSI. Do you want to be able to specify the application data path and user save data? Or would you want the application data path to always be C:\Program Files\Sherston ?
    Firstly, thanks for taking the time to post on here.
    Although, as I said above, making a MSI is easy, not everyone can do that - especially as you are aiming for the primary market. Making a generic MSI would be a good selling point (some companies are charging their customers £200 for a MSI. The more money schools pay to them, the less they have to buy stuff from you!)

    Keep the MSI as standard as possible - DON'T use Install Shield!

    Let users specify the program files folder, SavePath and DataPath in the setup. The reason why I suggest letting people specify the DataPath is that some schools still have computers with small hard drives. Letting them put the datapath on the server, for some computers, whilst keeping the executable on the local drive means that you can use the same shortcut school-wide and have the product running locally, where space allows.

    Set the Program Files folder, SavePath and Datapath to c:\program files\sherston\... by default and set the permissions on the save path if it is locally installed. If the DataPath IS on the server, then obviously the MSI shouldn't try to write there.

    Then, either, bundle something like Wise InstallTailor with the product so that people can easily make a MST, or just make the MSI read a ini file from it's source folder so people can set their own variables.

    Finally, make sure you send it out to every customer when they purchase a site licence - often the person installing isn't the person ordering. The person installing may only come every other Tuesday and it's a waste of time having to phone up and ask for the right disk.
    Thanks!

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    Michael's Avatar
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    Hello Sherston,

    Thank you for taking the time to post your comments on here. I hope this demonstrates that there is indeed a market for Sherston products in a standard vanilla network, but that Sherston can lead the way as example to other software companies.

    These are my recommendations how an MSI should be created in a standard environment:

    The datapath should be C:\Program Sherston\Application Name for simplicity.

    The savepath should always be My Documents, irrelevant if that's a local or a mapped drive. You then cater for every situation, for standalone environments, but also networked environments using redirected My Documents mapped as H:\ (for example).
    This information is stored in the registry, so the application should be designed to look where My Documents is mapped to.

    Standard Start Menu items/shortcuts should be created as these can be copied. In Active Directory administrators use a tool called Folder Redirection and its this tool where shortcuts can be copied and pasted to a share, standardising Start Menus and Desktops for users. It's the equivalent of RM's Explorer.

    If the application connects to a seperate database, then a seperate MSI should be created for the network server. The server tools can then be installed/configured/shared, so the only traffic going across the network is information coming to and from the database. I'm pretty sure this is how you'd run things in an RM network too.

    If you have any further queries please post here or mail me directly. Again, thank you listening

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    contink's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael View Post
    The savepath should always be My Documents, irrelevant if that's a local or a mapped drive. You then cater for every situation, for standalone environments, but also networked environments using redirected My Documents mapped as H:\ (for example).
    This information is stored in the registry, so the application should be designed to look where My Documents is mapped to.
    Agree with everything else but there are a load of Sherston apps that use the savepath for saving a shared database or data file that is not specific to a single user. In instances like that it shouldn't be a My Docs folder.

    Otherwise, makes perfect sense and yes definitely agree that generic MSI's would be much appreciated.. perhaps with MST example files for common scenarios.

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    Quote Originally Posted by contink View Post
    Otherwise, makes perfect sense and yes definitely agree that generic MSI's would be much appreciated.. perhaps with MST example files for common scenarios.
    I know from CA packaged software that it is possible to have an external .ini file that is reffered to by the installer or simply copied over.

    This could be the existing config.ini file and would simply be copied from the same folder as the MSI when the installer was run. It would then be possible for them to continue using their existing configuration mechanism - removing the need for any code rewrite - but also make it simple to configure for large deployments.

    EDIT:
    MSIs can also edit .ini files directly so thinking about it MSTs would probably be more manageable and still allow them to keep the same configuration mechanism.
    Last edited by SYNACK; 27th May 2008 at 06:28 PM.

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