Alchemex 6.x Installation Best Practices

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Purpose

This tutorial / best practices document is purposely intended to be simple and to the point. The intention is to empower you with all the information required to complete a working and solid Alchemex installation. This forms part of the Installation Best Practices series for Alchemex as well as the Web Solution and Security Module.

Be prepared Before going on site to do an installation you need to have taken care of the following:

Get a copy of the signed order, as this will confirm the nature and number of licenses to be installed as well as any additional items such as reports. You will also need a copy of the pre-installation document which will confirm that all the necessary pre-installation requirements have been met by the client. Establish your contacts list. This list should include, but need not be exclusive, a member from the IT Department (preferably the Network Administrator) as well as the Alchemex Administrator end user.

Set your appointment date and time and re-confirm the appointment at least a day prior to the install.

Secure your copy of the relevant Alchemex installation CD i.e. Alchemex for Accpac CD, Alchemex for SAP Business One CD, Alchemex for SYSPRO CD or Alchemex Generic CD, as well as the Serialisation Details. Always carry a spare Generic Alchemex & Web Install CD as well as a copy of ALL the Standard Template sets. (Covering all available source data types as well) – Having a copy of all the above on a Memory Stick wont hurt either.

Pre-Installation requirements

Let us get into more detail on just a few of the key aspects relating to the pre-installation requirements as losing the plot here could seriously upset your day and weeks to come. This requirement can be split in to Hardware, Software and Network Infrastructure, but lets look at it from a strategic best practices point of view.


Software What data sources will we be connecting to? Confirm data source e.g. MS SQL, MySQL, C-ISAM, Pervasive (2000, v8.6 or v9) Oracle, DB2, MaxDB etc. Are we dealing with Client /Server or Workstation configurations? Have the ADO/ODBC drivers/software been loaded and confirmed working on all workstations having Alchemex installed. MS Excel needs to be pr-loaded onto all workstations having Alchemex installed.

Hardware/Network Infrastructure Confirm that you will we have access to all the workstations having Alchemex installed on that day. Confirm access to the Server. Will it be direct or via Terminal Server/VNC Confirm access to a CD Drive or USB port on at least one of the workstations/server. Confirm ALL relevant Domain Users/ Workgroups have full read write permissions to the pre-created Alchemex directory on the Server. Confirm if Internet Access is direct or via proxy & get details.

All dressed up and ready to go!

Right lets get our hands dirty. Yes there are other ways and yes you can trot straight on to the Server room and work from a semi-standing seated position squinting at the 1024x768 resolution text on a rather out of focus 14” monitor whilst trying to navigate the cursor by rolling the mouse off the side of an old filing cabinet. (No you can’t use the top of the monitor, that’s where the keyboard is currently precariously balanced) OR If you want to get it right first time – do it the lazy-mans way.

On arrival, after all the introductions and formalities are over, make your way to the Workstation where the Administrator Licensed copy of Alchemex is to be installed. (In most cases this will be one of the better/best PC’s on the premises with at least one 17”+ monitor and a working CD Drive.) This is where you will be spending most of your time. BTW – This guide assumes you are fortunate enough to be installing on a pre Vista OS (XP Win2000) as Vista has a few additional quirks that will be covered elsewhere in the document.


Administrator’s Workstation

Confirm that the currently logged in Domain User is the actual User Account that will be used to run the Alchemex Software. Insert the Alchemex CD into the CD Drive – If it auto launches then cancel it. I prefer to only use the Alchemex Generic CD since the Web Solution will only work with the Generic Alchemex version and because the other versions install ALL templates regardless of which were purchased or not.

Open up MS Explorer (Right Click on “START” and select “Explore” )

Now type in the UNC path to the pre-created Alchemex folder on the pre-arranged Server. e.g. \\server\Alchemex\ DO NOT use Mapped Drives – get into the habit of using UNC’s - I will refer to \\server\Alchemex for the remainder of the document – just replace with whatever path is relevant to your install. (Personally I prefer direct IP i.e. \\192.168.10.1\Alchemex but let’s not complicate matters) If you cannot find the Alchemex folder (because the IT chap forgot to create it), get hold of the relevant IT contact and have them create it. Remind them that ALL the designated Alchemex users MUST have full read and write access to that folder and that these permissions must propagate to all the child folders. I would not suggest you create the folder nor set the user permissions yourself as you could open yourself up to all kinds of problems like being blamed for every single IT issue that happens from then ad infinitum. Right, you are in the \Alchemex folder on the Server so let’s test if they got it right. Right click in an open spot in the right hand pane and select “New” / “Text Document” – Launch this “New Text Document.txt” and type a few character then Save and Close it. – If it saves and closes you have just confirmed that at least the current workstation has full Read/Write permissions to the \Alchemex folder on the Server. If not then go call that IT chap again and have them sort it out. Create a folder called “AlchCD” as well as AlchTemp off the \\server\Alchemex\ path thus \\server\Alchemex\AlchCD and copy the entire contents of the Alchemex Install CD to the AlchCD folder. Now we do not have to contend with missing/faulty CD Drives at the remaining workstation installs. Remove and store CD back in the case. Navigate into the \\server\Alchemex\AlchCD folder and launch the install by double clicking “Setup” Follow the on screen instructions until the installation is completed. (It is a good idea to stick to the default install path of C:\Alchemex60 – try not to change it. Navigate to Start/All Programs/Alchemex and launch the Alchemex Administrator. If Internet Access is via Proxy – Highlight “Enterprise” by clicking on it once, now select “Tools”/ “Configure Internet Connection” and populate the relevant fields in the popup properties box. E.g. Access Type - Proxy, Proxy Address – 192.168.10.2:8080, Prompt for Login (YES if Password required and NO if no password is required) then Apply changes and close the popup box. Click on the icon representing a Key – this will take you to the License Manager. – Type in the Name and Serial Number details – keep in mind the Name must be exactly as per the registered details and both fields are case sensitive. Select “Perform Serialisation” enter your password and follow the on screen prompts. (Remember if Internet Proxy requires a Password you will be prompted for that first) You will be prompted if you wish to update client libraries – say “Yes” I prefer to review the progress thus always select Yes when prompted. As a precaution, always double check that Enabling Dongle is ticked in the left pane then continue by selecting “Run Updates (All Selected Steps) BTW forget about serializing using the Report Manger, the process is currently bugged and will leave you in an endless loop of serializations. Re-launch Alchemex License & Upgrade Tool (Start/All Programs/Alchemex) and select “Get Software Updates” – enter the customers Alchemex password and follow the onscreen instructions. You are now ready to launch the Report Manager for the first time so navigate to Start/All Programs/Alchemex and select Report Manager. The first popup will ask you if you wish to connect to an existing Metabase or Create an New Metabase. Obviously you need to select “Create a New Metabase” and then point it to be created in the Server Folder under \\server\Alchemex\. This step creates your “common” SVD as well as the Templates folder. You will also be prompted to select a license type – select the relevant one and you are done. As we started off at the Administrator we would of course select Administrator License in this instance. Find the Demo Folder in the Report Manager and run out Management Pack off the RKL Database reports to test that all is well and that Excel launches correctly and that Macro’s are set to Off or preferably Prompt under Macro Security options in Excel. Minimise the Report Manger and re-launch Administrator. Find the relevant ODBC connection and create the connection to the required data sources as per usual - i.e. in the case of MS SQL – double click “Enterprise”, right click on “ODBC Driver for SQL Server” and select “Add Connection” then populate – Server Name, Database Name, SQL Username and Password with details as supplied by customer. Right click on your new connection select “Check/Test” and confirm connection succeeds. Now get your copy of the Templates, be it CD or Flash Drive and copy the purchased templates to the \\server\Alchemex\AlchTemp folder on the server. Take care to import for the correct Accounting pack, Version, as well as correct database type. You can now import the saved reports to Alchemex in the usual way. (F1 to select Help file, if you don’t know how. – Lets hope that’s not necessary) A final test would be to run out the newly imported reports to test that each of them works as expected. You have now completed the laborious time consuming part and all that remain are the quick 10 minutes per install on the remaining workstations.

Review of Actions

We have achieved the following.

Alchemex Metabase (SVD and Templates) residing in a shared folder on the server. You will notice that there is NO Alchemex installed on the server. Thus no .exe, DLL’s nor registry entries reside on the server. For all intents and purposes the server acts as a glorified 24/7 shared folder. The only time Alchemex needs to be installed on a server is when it is required to be available 24/7 to be launched as a com service by the Request Server(Web) as part of the Alchemex Web Solution. (Covered as a separate topic) Alchemex Administrator installed and working All ODBC connections created and working All templates imported and working You are 90% there – Congratulations.

The Final Stretch

The remaining workstation installations will each consist of the following procedure.

Confirm that the currently logged in Domain User is the actual User Account that will be used to run the Alchemex Software on the machine. Open up MS Explorer (Right Click on “START” and select “Explore” ) Navigate to \\server\Alchemex\ Launch this previously created “New Text Document.txt” and type a few extra characters then Save and Close it. – If it saves and closes you have just confirmed that this workstation has full Read/Write permissions to the \Alchemex folder on the Server. If not then get the IT crowd to sort it out. Navigate to the \\server\Alchemex\AlchCD folder and launch the install by double clicking “Setup” Follow the on screen instructions until the installation is completed. (It is a good idea to stick to the default install path of C:\Alchemex60 – try not to change it. Navigate to Start/All Programs/Alchemex and launch the Alchemex Administrator. If Internet Access is via Proxy – Highlight “Enterprise” by clicking on it once, now select “Tools”/ “Configure Internet Connection” and populate the relevant fields in the popup properties box. E.g. Access Type - Proxy, Proxy Address – 192.168.10.2:8080, Prompt for Login (YES if Password required and NO if no password is required) then Apply changes and close the popup box. Click on the icon representing a Key – this will take you to the License Manager. – Type in the Name and Serial Number details – keep in mind the Name and the Serial number must be exactly as per the registered details and both fields are case sensitive. Select “Perform Serialisation” enter your password and follow the on screen prompts. (Remember if Internet Proxy requires a Password you will be prompted for that first) You will be prompted if you wish to update client libraries – say “Yes” I prefer to review the progress thus always select Yes when prompted. As a precaution always double check that Enabling Dongle is ticked in the left pane then continue by selecting “Run Updates (All Selected Steps) Remember serializing using the Report Manger is a NO NO, the process is currently bugged and will leave you in an endless loop of serializations. Re-launch Alchemex License & Upgrade Tool (Start/All Programs/Alchemex) and select “Get Software Updates” – enter the customers Alchemex password and follow the onscreen instructions. You are now ready to launch the Report Manager for the first time on this workstation so navigate to Start/All Programs/Alchemex and select Report Manager. The first popup will ask you if you wish to connect to an existing Metabase or Create a New Metabase. Obviously you need to select “Connect to an Existing Metabase” and then point it to the exisiting Server Folder under \\server\Alchemex\ This step links you to the exisitng “common” SVD as well as the Templates folder. You will also be prompted to select a license type – select the relevant one and you are done. (Keep in mind that if you select Report Viewer License” that the Report Manager will fail to open and that you will have to test the templates by launching a PR0 – PR5 file instead) On the PR0 subject – I prefer creating them then saving them in a PR1 folder under \\server\Alchemex\PR1 then just leaving a shortcut to that folder on the users desktop. A final test would be to run out the newly imported reports to test that each of them work as expected and that Excel behaves as expected. (Incl. Macro’s security etc.)

In Closing

On average I would suggest booking a full day for installation, getting the install covered as quickly as possible and using all the remaining time in familiarizing the Administrator and Report Writers with the basic functionality of the product. Remember the objective is to pass on as much information as possible to enable the end users to buy into the product and not just see it as “yet another darn tool” and go back to using their old “tried and tested” time consuming methods just because we never took the time to build up their confidence and show them just how exciting and feature rich the product is. We cannot pass on everything there is to know in a day (even a month come to think of it) but we can plant the seeds to entice the user to take the next step and venture into a journey of discovery by studying the Help File end to end.

Another thought. Don’t pass on more information than the user is able to cope with in one sitting. Rather establish their level of proficiency and needs and stick to features relevant to their skill level and immediate required outputs. Thus forget about punting Complex Joins and Pass Through Variables to someone that spells SQL with a “C” and who only really need to run out simple reports.