Janauary 2014 - We have production Evisions products
(MAPS, Argos, FormFusion, and IntelleCheck) running on
both Windows Server 2012 HyperV VM and Windows 2003.
Banner Reporting Sites:
Calvin Deiterich's Argos
Zach Heath's Banner
Janauary 2014 - We have our backup of production
Evisions products (MAPS/Argos/FormFusion/IntelleCheck)
running on both Windows Server 2012 HyperV VM.
The hard part of migrating Evisions products to Windows 2012 is
getting by the Windows 8-ish GUI changes and finding the
underlying Windows (which then looks much like the old Windows).
Our Evisions products are the only application software systems
installed on this VM which makes many difficult interapp issues
IIS is not needed by Evisions products
and that really made it far easier to migrate their software to
the new Windows environment compared to other apps we have that
do require IIS.
Windows 2012 is 64 bit and Evisions' MAPS
is 32 bit. Only 64 bit Print drivers work for Windows
2012, so don't waste time hunting for 32 bit print drivers.
The 64 bit print drivers are not a problem at all for MAPS.
The OLE DB connection must be 32 bit and it works fine on the
server once you find the right Oracle client installation files.
The Evisions folder will be in C:\Program Files (x86)
instead of C:\Program Files (which is for 64 bit only code).
OLE DB is in ODAC 12c which installs via the Oracle
Universal Installer and you can limit the install to just the
parts you need for making the OLE DB connections for MAPS.
You might notice that there are both ODBC Data Sources (32-bit)
and ODBC Data Sources (64-bit) in Widows 2012, but only if you
are using non-Evisions software to make any DB connections.
We used them only to quickly confirm that our installed drivers
were working for our DBs. (We have a lot of non-Evisions
apps moving to VMs too.)
Last I heard, Evisions does not
officially support Windows 2012 (But, I have never had the
company refuse to help with any problem I have taken to them.)
Migrating from Windows 2003 to Window 2012 in one step took
more effort than expected. I nearly took a step back to a
Windows 2008 VM on the same Windows 2012 Server, but I am glad
we pushed on.
All this was happening with a pending
January deadline for migrating FormFusion 1.9 to 3.3 for 2013
(Yes, we were long overdue to update all
of our Evisions products and they are all current today.)
Current Project: Migrate all Evisions production from the
Windows 2003 Server so that the machine can be taken off-line.
Spring and fall 2013 -
"My New Favorite Argos Feature" Session at the
Evisions Summit Conference 2013 and ABUG in the fall.
Favorite Old Argos Feature (pptx) - Evisions
Conference 2013 Presentation/ABUG 2013
March 17, 2013 - Someone
asked how to view OS files from Argos at the Evisions
Conference. John Clark helped me do this several
I have an Oracle query for the PO
numbers, select one, and then the retrieval is via a
generated Hypertext link. Uses a button to do this. (see
the details below, John said you couldn't do this and
then had an epiphany at lunch;) How many vendors call
you back like that? His solution works great for
After having some lunch
and thinking about how to solve this I have come up with
1. Create a multi-column list box.
Add the query that returns the url
3. Add a button.
4. Make it data aware.
5. In the On Click events add
6. Set the url to be the column from MC
list box i.e Multicolumn.URL.
If you any
further questions please do not hesitate to ask.
January 21, 2010 - Still
upgrading to Banner 8. We upgraded to MAPS 3.8
without any problems. Banner 7 Year End Payroll
and Tax patches are delaying our Banner 8 upgrades.
We will be using IntelleCheck 3 (uses MAPS as does
Argos) with Banner 8 which will mean one fewer Client
Server applications to support.
September 18, 2010 - I
have upgraded our test MAPS/Argos server. We are
in the middle of going to Banner 8, so little time to
spare. Be sure to read the MAPS 3.7 Upgrade Guide.
upgrade is simple and fairly quick (it took me longer to check
the results than to do the multiple upgrades). But, be
warned this is very different from a normal upgrade for
MAPS/Argos. Only 3.7+ versions will run on MAPS 3.7.
Little appears to be changed to an Argos user, but the
underlying MAPS structure is very different. This version
allows Argos, FormFusion, and IntelleCheck to all run from one
MAP Server and prepares the way for taking FormFusion and
IntelleCheck to Web based clients (ending their PC Desktop
Client and ODBC installs).
The install is easy, but you definitely should print the upgrade
guide for this one. There are some required steps that one
normally need not be concerned.
You will need to run this upgrade from the Server or using a
Remote Desktop tool (as I did). It is critical that you
allow MAPS to automatically reconnect between upgrades without
interruption. (An extra backup might be very reassuring.)
May 22, 2010 - I have found a
solution to viewing PL/SQL EXCEPTION messages in Argos.
This is definitely a programmer topic, but the need was
to replace DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE which is not seen by
SQL, so not available directly to Argos.
error_code number(8) := 0;
error_message varchar2(200) := '';
-- DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE ('Unknown error, details below');
-- DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE ('Error code: '||sqlcode);
-- DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE ('Error message: '||sqlerrm);
-- INSERT into common.REPORTS values (1,'Unknown error, details
INSERT into common.REPORTS values (99999991,'Error Details
error_code := sqlcode;
INSERT into common.REPORTS values (99999992,'Error Code:
error_message := sqlerrm;
INSERT into common.REPORTS values (99999993,'Error Message:
This will give one a similar error message from Oracle
Exceptions without the need to use SQL*Plus to view the message.
The rest of the solution can be seen in the DataBlock and
Reports posted to the Argos COOP as "PL/SQL Report Conversion to
Search the COOP for bknox under Argos.
December 4, 2009 - No
Arkansas school stepping up for next year's ABUG yet.
No chance of uaex.edu doing it this time. We are
short too many key positions to carry it off.
November 30, 2009 -
There will be no "Argos - Moving into the Community" at
SunGardHE Summit this year. Rejected, just when I
thought I had found what they were looking for in a
session. Well, I thought last year went very well,
but that wasn't what they are looking for this year.
November 21, 2009 - Upgraded
our Production Argos to version 3.5. It takes only a
few minutes, but it does take a little longer than most
Argos/MAPS upgrades. Five minutes for our Production
November 20, 2009 - Tested the new Argos 3.5
Release without any problems. I think they should have
called it Version 4.0.
November 12, 2009 - Zach Heath (Evisions) has a
personal blog devoted to Banner Reporting
Zach, and I
discussed Argos PL/SQL error handling approaches (a future
project perhaps, but mostly of interest to developers).
October 19, 2009 - Submitted an Argos Community session and thinking about
proposing What's A Command Line kind of guy doing using
July 21, 2009 - We
have our MAPS/Argos server on our INB or Banner WebForms
server. We have made this work from the
beginning and until now, the only serious downside has
been needing to upgrade the OLE DB driver without
disturbing this Oracle Infrastructure machine.
While that should not actually be a problem, it is
when your DBA is too busy to take on any new tasks,
especially ones that you create.
We make an image of this machine each evening just
in case we need to restore the server. With a
recent Banner upgrade, this restore was done several
times and it has caused me to rethink the whole idea of
sharing a server for Argos. The biggest
impact of the restore was on Argos' scheduled reports.
When the server is restored to a previous day's image,
the server's time is set forward on boot by
synchronizing the box to an Internet Time Server.
The MAPS Service promptly starts and then runs each
scheduled task for the day up to the newly reset time.
This happened because the scheduler was active when
the server image was taken. The scheduler saw the
time go from a couple of days ago to sometime after the
reports should have been done for the actual date-time
and it ran the reports as if the day were passing rather
quickly. Since the reports had already been run
for the day before the restore, users were getting
duplicates and it caused some confusion.
To me, this means that the MAPS/Argos server
should be on a separate server. That would allow upgrades
to OLE DB drivers to be independent of the Oracle Infrastructure
machine and avoid problems with the far more complex Banner and
Oracle Infrastructure upgrades.
May 28, 2009 - Thanks
for the great sessions at ABUG! And, thanks to ATU
for hosting ABUG this year!
Here are the ppt files from my sessions plus some older
ones for related info:
Robert Long and guest Rob Hagmaier)
Argos - Moving
Quickly into the Community
Selected Older Argos Presentations:
Argos Admin and Security (from Argos pre-Summit 2007
Admin and Security Track)
Access Conversion to Argos (from Argos pre-Summit
2007 Tech Track)
May 22, 2009 - Mr. Argos will be at
ABUG! Who? Robert (Rob) Hagmaier will be tell us about the
significant new features to to soon be released.
May 21, 2009 - I am expecting to see some
of the new features of the next release of Argos to be shown at
prompts by default. That broke my scripts repository password
checking. Doesn't even give you the option of opening it.
Here is how to fix IE8 to allow the prompt:
Change your Internet Options to "Allow websites to
Prompt for information using scripted windows."
May 15, 2009 - Updated for the IE8 patch
and I am using IE8 with Argos now. I have had no problems
May 14, 2009 - Adding a Google Custom Search
for Argos Reporting:
May 1, 2009 - I have a presentation that
covers Converting from MS Access.
See screens 26-56 the ppt from the Tennessee Summit 2008.
April 24, 2009 - I have been using a MacBook for several
months now. I actually installed MS Windows to allow me
to edit in LCMS (Luminis Content Management System) pages on my
laptop, and Windows is needed for Argos.
One can dual boot the Mac hardware into a Windows only
environment using OS X' Boot Camp or even completely replace OS
X with Windows, but that just gives you great hardware for a
Windows machine. (I do have a friend that actually turned his
MacBook into a Linux only machine, but that is another story.)
I wanted to keep the Mac OS for most purposes but be able to
run Windows applications when needed.
I did need to evaluate a solution that had
end-user vendor support, so I limited the options to Parallels
and VMware. Parallels seemed to be the best virtualization
solution of the pair, so Parallels Desktop 4.0 for Mac was my
When you add Windows to a Mac, you must also
add virus protection which came with the Parallels bundle that
I purchased (it is using Kaspersky for anti virus, spyware, and
malicious programs and handles firewall and spam too). These
products install easily and look to be built-in Mac features
once installed. Kaspersky is actually installed after the
Windows install (I took Windows to SP3 before installing
Kaspersky, being very careful to only go to Microsoft site for
the updates until I had the protection software installed). I
only use MS Internet Explorer for our University sites because
the editor for LCMS needs IE 6 to work properly. IE 6 security
is really unacceptable for general browsing, so be very careful
if you must use it.
Installing Windows is a very time consuming
process. Fortunately, I could skip the first couple of hours
of required updates by starting the install with a Windows XP
SP2 version CD. It still took a couple of hours to get
everything running and updated. I did use a feature of
Parallels to "Take (a) Snapshot" of the currently installed
virtual machines after each significant step. Good thing too,
because Windows decided to hiccup in one of the many update
steps and I had to "Revert to (previous) Snapshot". That saved
me hours of re-Install + updates.
I run Windows in what Parallels calls Coherence
mode. It basically lets the Mac run Windows applications
without the user being much aware of the difference. For
example, one can double-click on a .ppt file on the Mac Desktop
and it just opens in Windows' Power Point (OK, I did previously
install MS Office in the Windows environment).
Parallels does put a Windows "start" button on
the Mac application Dock. This lets you run Windows
applications from the Mac desktop using that Icon. You can
share files between OS X and Windows. You can switch between a
Windows application and Mac application as if they were both
Mac applications. The integration is much smoother than I was
For example, if you double-click on a Power
Point file on the Mac desktop, Parallels will open the file in
Windows. It will take whatever steps are necessary to get this
done. Depending upon the current status of the Virtual
Machine, Parallels might just switch to Windows, start a new
Windows session, or wake a suspended Windows session all
depending upon what state you left the machine. Or, you can
use the Start icon in the Mac menu bar and do this step by step
as you would on a Windows only machine.
I just tried the double-click a .ppt file to be
sure I was telling the store correctly and I was surprised to
find that I had left Windows was running. The Power Point just
Now, there is a Parallels Suspend mode that is
much like Sleep in Windows. If you double-click on the .ppt
from this state, Parallels will Resume the suspended Windows
Virtual Machine and then open the file.
If instead you had Shutdown Windows, the
double-click will start Windows before opening the file.
If you had Quit Parallels Desktop (which would
have given you the option to stop or suspend the Windows
Virtual Machine), then it would Start Parallels, Start Windows,
and open the file.
I used the defaults for the Parallels install
and used Custom updates for Windows to prevent IE being
replaced (to keep IE 6 for LCMS' Site Studio).
Parallels just works on my MacBook. My Mac has
2.4 GHz processors and 4GB RAM. The only thing slowing it down
is the hard drive. You might get a very different experience
with a less capable machine.
Of course Argos works on it. I can even add
new LDAP users as an Administrator in MAPS as long as I am
connected via VPN or inside our Computing Center Firewall. The
MacBook VPN works more reliably for me than my Windows Desktop
April 23, 2009 - I am frequently asked
about Security. Here is the link to my 2007 pre-Summit
Power Point Presentation on Ad
Hoc Reporting Security for Banner.
April 22, 2009 - Added some Cross Tab
example SQL code below. Both DECODE and CASE can easily
turn rows into columns for reporting. I actually wrote a
cross-tab code generator for converting some Command-Line Focus
ACROSS statements into SQL*Plus. I have not shared the
generator, because it would require a very specialized
environment or lots of debug time to install. The generated
code works great as long as a static selection for the across
columns is acceptable.
April 15, 2009 - I have asked for feedback
from those that registered for my Summit class. Most
responses have been very positive; however, one person
complained that I gave a sales pitch. Maybe I should ask for
commissions. I am not sure how one could speak on a topic
without enthusiasm. Sounds boring to me.
March 27, 2009 - Just back from Summit and
Pre-Summit. Thanks to everyone that attended my
Calvin Deiterich's new Argos Reporting Site
has the promise of being a great addition to the Argos
The preview of the Argos release (the 3.5
Alpha) looked very good. I want to have it as soon as
February 26, 2009 - Finally getting to
review some of the new features of 3.2. The new searchable log
is very helpful for administrators:
February 21, 2009 - Argos 3.2 is live and
February 6, 2009 - Testing Argos 3.2
January 29, 2009 - Argos 3.2 is
January 22, 2009 - Looking forward to a
new Argos version release
Argos 3.2 is rumored to be
very near release.
December 8, 2008 - Summit and Argos
I will be presenting variations of Moving into the Argos
Community at both Summit and the Argos Pre-Summit. The
Pre-Summit version is more directed to those that already have
Argos. Both presentations introduce the Argos Community,
available training, and rapid startup information.
Tabs in Argos can be done with sql code. Here are examples of using
DECODE and CASE.
The object is to
get a single line for each key, in these examples Fund. So, the
results would look like:
. . . except that the totals will sum
Using Oracle DECODE:
WHERE nhrdist_fisc_code = '2009' AND
(nhrdist_rucl_code = 'HGRS' OR nhrdist_rucl_code = 'HGNL')
GROUP BY nhrdist_fund_code
ORDER BY nhrdist_fund_code
SUM(CASE WHEN nhrdist_acct_code = '611000' THEN nhrdist_amt ELSE 0 END)
SUM(CASE WHEN nhrdist_acct_code = '611100' THEN nhrdist_amt ELSE 0 END)
SUM(CASE WHEN nhrdist_acct_code = '613000' THEN nhrdist_amt ELSE 0 END)
SUM(CASE WHEN nhrdist_acct_code = '615300' THEN nhrdist_amt ELSE 0 END)
SUM(CASE WHEN nhrdist_acct_code = '617000' THEN nhrdist_amt ELSE 0 END)
SUM(CASE WHEN nhrdist_acct_code = '619210' THEN nhrdist_amt ELSE 0 END)
nhrdist_acct_code = '611000' OR
nhrdist_acct_code = '611100' OR
nhrdist_acct_code = '613000' OR
nhrdist_acct_code = '615300' OR
nhrdist_acct_code = '617000' OR
nhrdist_acct_code = '619210' THEN 0
ELSE nhrdist_amt END) "Other",
WHERE nhrdist_fisc_code = '2009' AND
(nhrdist_rucl_code = 'HGRS' OR nhrdist_rucl_code = 'HGNL')
GROUP BY nhrdist_fund_code
ORDER BY nhrdist_fund_code
Reporting Tool Selection Criteria should be:
No added fees for additional users
A rapid startup with little IT investment
Flexible training options and
These are, in my
opinion, the most important requirements for your reporting
are not nearly as important as these few key requirements. As for a
long list of feature specifications, I would discount the importance of
those. All of the reporting tools on the market can do pretty much
the same things.
tools, there is always another way to do a task. You should not let
one vendor state your selection criteria in terms of their product
unless you really want them to be the only one to meet your specs.
For us, Argos met
all of our criteria
I thought getting from scratch to a working Argos report was pretty
simple. Under a couple of hours form the get-go and I had Argos
installed and a new report with headings, footers, page counts, etc.
Now compare that to my first SQL*Plus report, which took me many, many
hours to get to my first acceptable completed report.
I find that it is
much harder to get a programmer to use a new tool than it is to get an
end-user to climb onboard. Programmers have more invested in their old
ways (I would love to still be using PL/I). End-users just want quick
and easy results.
With a new Report
Viewer, someone that just runs reports, I just sent them a webpage link
that tells them how to quickly add an Argos link into Luminis. They
already know how to run Windows apps, so they need next to no help from
me on getting into or using Argos.
I can monitor
usage, so I can tell that the users are actually using the reports. I
do get a question from about one in ten new users. Most of them just
jump in and start using the reports.
fairly technical end-users take a little more encouragement. I send
them to about an hour of on-line (free) recorded training. Sure, they
will not learn every feature of the product in an hour, but in that
short time they will learn enough to convince themselves that making
the switch is worthwhile.
How many reporting
tools could let a new user create useful reports in an hour? Argos
No added fees
for additional users
I do not know the prices of
the competing tools, but I would expect Argos to be on the low end of
the comparison. MS Access is “free”, but it is missing a lot of
features. Argos is licensed for an unlimited number of users. Good
thing when someone wants to take your in-house report public (that
A rapid startup
with little IT investment
For testing, I installed a
free, full featured demo copy, downloaded dozens of pre-written
reports, and began testing it in a couple of hours. Now, it takes
longer to get it installed in a computing center environment because of
the added controls and delays with split responsibilities. Still,
startup goes fairly quickly because most of Argos’ setup and
administration can be done outside of the computing center.
I never had much use for the
long and expensive training sessions that most vendors favor. Argos
will do formal training on-site for a fee, but I much prefer the free
on-line, on-demand recorded training. Some of our developers attend
the free on-line live training sessions. I personally have a hard time
dedicating a block of time for training; I rather like the pause
feature on the recorded sessions, but then I am more inclined to search
the Evisions Knowledge Base for a solution. It is secured, but not
impossible to actually use like some other archives.
Evisions’ support seems to
be well regarded. I get quick responses and problem resolutions from
After many years of giving
users rather complex reports, I found out that most, especially
Financial, users would really rather just have a way to get their
Banner queries into Excel. Argos has had this feature since its
pre-announcement Beta version (probably because Evisions asked the
users what they really wanted in the product). Sure, Argos does
standard reports with subtotals, sorts, filters, OLAP Data Cubes, and
the like too. All the better reporting tools will do these things.
But think about it, not many end-users will ever use the more elaborate
capabilities found in these tools. Programmers and rather technical
end-users may use them.
One can make a
secretary’s day or for that matter most manager’s day by giving them a
new report (think on-screen form) and showing them that Right-Clicking
nearly instantly gives them the same info in Excel.
I have been
pursuing Banner Reporting Solutions for our functional and IT users for
years. I have tried giving our users MS Access and SQL*Plus based
solutions with some degree of success, but most recently I have placed
an emphasis upon Argos for most end-user reporting. The Argos solution
has been by far the most successful of my efforts for a Banner
Reporting Solution for end-users.
Argos has turned
some of my most difficult to please users into personal champions. I
never expected that.
The great promise
of relational database systems was to give non-IT end-users powerful Ad
Hoc reporting. That was a promise that has been very hard to deliver.
But, we are getting much nearer to that ideal.
Now, keep in mind
that this is not a product or vendor endorsement. We are not allowed
to make those. This is only some notes on what I have been doing to
support Banner Reporting and should not be taken as an official
October 23, 2008 - The Tennessee Summit presentation
are available in my Scripts
Repository. If you need the scripts password, just ask (bknox @t
I have some notes in the ppt files that would expand upon my
presentations and you might find useful. Thanks to the great group
attending and to John Tong, Michael Boote, and Pamela
Clippard for assisting; and to the Tennessee Board of Regents for
inviting me to present at the conference.
October 2, 2008 - Preparing for the Tennessee
I am presenting two sessions for the Tennessee
Summit 2008 on Administrative Computing Technologies October
13-14th. One is Argos - Moving into the Community and the
other is How your DBA or Database Programmer can Improve your Argos
Class Title: Argos
‑ Moving into the Community
Class Description: Searching for THE Banner Reporting Tool your
obsession? Mine too!
After building my own
Banner reporting tools for years including BannerAccess a MS Access
based Banner reporting tool, I found Argos, the Evisions product for Ad
Hoc Banner Reporting.
I wanted it from the
moment I saw it. Argos was my BannerAccess with all the missing pieces
that I never found time to develop.
Learn about our
experience installing Argos, joining the Argos User Community,
acquiring free community written software, and converting from MS
Class Title: How
your DBA or Database Programmer can Improve your Argos Reporting!
For Banner Reporting,
there is a great need for filling in the missing parts.
Just as Argos provides
THE missing Banner Reporting tool, there are ways to fill in some other
missing parts and even improve your Argos Reporting. These are things
your Database professionals can provide for you, but things they may
never realize you are missing.
We can give them a
hint or two!
(Centers on Argos, but touches APEX, conversions to Argos, multiple
databases, and Batch Scripting.)
October 1, 2008 - A new Banner Server. The easy part was
connecting Argos. Stop MAPS/wait for the new server to get
September 30, 2008 - 3.1.4 works fine for us.
September 29, 2008 - Luminis and LDAP. With Luminis comes LDAP
and the opportunity to move Argos to LDAP. Switching an
existing Argos User to LDAP is easy. One caution: If you have
Scheduled Reports for that User, any Schedules must be opened and
closed to associate the new properties for the Run User with the
We currently are running Argos from a Bookmark in Luminis. We have
our LDAP via Active Directory. When adding a new user to Luminis, one
must sync the ID/pw with Banner (i.e., change the Banner pw). Then the
new LDAP user will have their Banner pw available in Argos too as long
as the Argos Username is the same as the Banner Username. This is not
totally integrated as it would be with a Luminis Channel, but it is not
as complex either. I have not seen what is required for a pw
change yet (safe from that for a few months).
August 15, 2008 - Argos 3.1.n Testing
We have been testing with Argos 3.1 since before it was
released. This Beta gave us the Reporting API so that our Web based
applications could call Argos Reports. I have been anticipating the
move of our "real" users to 3.1 since the first day I installed 3.1
Beta. I think we are nearly ready to move to 3.1 as our production
version. (I only need a few test users to confirm my good test
results with the current Argos 3.1.4 release.)
We have a lot of non-Banner Tables and multiple Oracle
Databases (including a mix of Oracle versions). Our home grown Oracle
applications are mostly converted FoxPro applications and these have
some very non-Banner like constructs. We are moving much of our
non-Banner reporting to Argos, because it fits in well with our
environment. It is not uncommon for us to Link Databases for a single
report. Many applications need information from several other
Databases. Argos allows us to move between the Databases as needed.
We have our production server (Windows Server 2003)
running with the Oracle 9iR2 OLE DB driver. I have just tested the
Oracle 10gR2 OLE DB driver on a desktop. One does need to remove the
old 9i OLE DB provider before installing the new one. So far,
everything is looking good even with the aging 9i driver.
All the new 3.1 features and improvements are much
anticipated and will help our developers' efforts.
August 14, 2008 - Tennessee
Summit 2008 on Administrative Computing Technologies October
Looks like I will get to present an Argos session for
the ACT Summit. No details yet.
June 19, 2008 - ABUG went very well.
I have been working on Integrating Argos with Luminis
and supporting the reporting for a new Publications System.
We have a significant publishing group and this system
allows for both internal "sales" and external sales of our
publications. The reporting covers it all, including printing picking
lists for the just approved orders during the day. We are using a
scheduled direct print of newly approved Orders to our Warehouse and
Print Shop. The Scheduled Report uses a DataBlock that selects records
for the last couple of hours (since 4 pm the previous day, for the 8 am
run). The first run of the new day picks up any late Orders from the
On other projects: One of our Functional "programmers"
has converted several MS Access reports to Argos. While it could take
us hours to implement a change to our MS Access production reports, we
can change a report in Argos in minutes. Part of that long delay with
MS Access was our own doing, but due to our security restrictions, I
cannot directly update a MS Access database on our central office file
server. FTPing a really large file can take a long time, so even
simple changes were a lot of trouble.
With Argos, I can copy a Report/DataBlock, make a test
version, and have the user testing it very quickly.
But, the huge project now dominating everything here is
Luminis. Concurrent implementation of Active Directory, Luminis IV,
Single Sign-On, moving our remaining non-Banner Apps from FoxPro to
I am also setting up a backup server for Argos. I
installed Argos on the backup server, Stopped the MAPS service,
replaced the default install database with a copy of our live Argos'
database and it should work, right. Well, I don't know yet, because
installing the OLE DB driver requires rebooting the server. This is on
our live INB server, so rebooting may be a while coming.
One must be careful to disable the Scheduler. I used
the previous automated backup files to create the backup Argos' files.
I am considering scheduling a Windows script to do this copy
automatically just after the early AM MAPS automatic backup. That
avoids needing to down MAPS before copying the files. But, first I
want to confirm that the backup server works for us.
May 3, 2008 - ABUG is May 5th at UCA in Conway,
Arkansas. Evisions' Mike Boote will be presenting an Argos
April 30, 2008 - The code I used to create
many of our Banner Table Current Record (Oracle) Views is available in
my scripts Repository (see April 21st
below for access instructions). We find these to be very useful in
providing Ad Hoc Functional users a way to create their own Queries
without having to learn Sub-Queries or the many ways to select Current
Records in Banner. Just JOIN the Current Record Views and the Query is
done. Most Ad Hoc users will be reporting current records only.
Usually, I find that Ad Hoc Functional users will need help creating
more complex multi-Table Queries that vary by date. These Queries are
rather difficult for most programmers.
April 22, 2008 - The ppts for all the Argos Pre-Summit sessions
have already been made available for download. These are well worth
your time and include some ideas I am sure you have not seen before.
From my session I have uploaded the Bonus Materials as a DataBlock and
Report in the Argos COOP. You can find it by searching for the Table
DUAL. It has not been reviewed yet, so expand your usual search to
include all objects. The exported object is also available here.
The Report includes my idea of Standard Format and
Content for Banded Reports. This includes logo, Date and Time, page
numbering plus identifying and locating information for the report
objects. It uses Argos functions to dynamically correct for any moved
or renamed DataBlock/Report. This reduces maintenance, saves time, and
insures correctly labeled reports. Correctly identifying a report can
be a great aid in debugging when someone requests a change or
correction to a report you wrote long ago.
While Templates are planned for a future Argos release,
it isn't too hard to Copy and Paste now. There are two ways that I
know of to accomplish this.
One can Copy the Banded Report Standard and Paste it
into a new DataBlock. Just change the dataset in the report and add
the columns you need. (One of the participants at the TN Summit gave
me this tip.)
Or, one can Copy and Paste the three blocks of content
to create a new report. Copying and Pasting all objects at one time
for a single block will retain the original formatting. This is
especially useful for the Path name positioning as it can become very
long (that is why the Database Instance is displaced with very short
paths). It is easy to miss an object using this method.
April 21, 2008 - Back from Summit and a very
good Argos Pre-Summit. We missed a few of the planned sessions due to
the Airline Cancelations, but as expected the Argos folks filled in
very well with some great new information.
Argos 3.1 is now officially released. We already have
several reports being called by the new optional Report API. It works
very well for us and one of our programmers is already calling his
Argos Reports from an Oracle Application Express (APEX) generated
application. This API will be key to using Argos Reports seamlessly
There are many new Argos enhancements planned for later
this year. They are significant enough for an Argos 4.0 release in my
opinion. Wish I could share the details, but we were asked to keep
them private (because the details may change significantly between now
and the release). We did see the current Alpha version and I was
If you attended my Argos presentation at the
pre-Summit, I have some notes in the ppt that would expand upon my
presentation and you might find useful. Thanks to the great group
attending and to John Tong for his song and dance routine (really, you
should see it).
The ppt is available in my scripts
Folder. If you need the scripts password, just ask (bknox @t
uaex.edu). That Folder also contains my presentations from Summit 2007
and the Charter Argos Pre-Summit.
I will be presenting my 2008 talk at A(rkansas)BUG
early next month. ABUG 2008 will
be Monday, May 5, 2008 at UCA in
April 3, 2008 - Very near release (I bet), the new (just updated Argos
and MAPS) are looking good. I really like the inserted comment code
that identifies the Report name and the DataBlock name. Well done!
March 31, 2008 - Added a Bonus section to my Argos
Conference Presentation (Bonus is for tips on dynamically labeling
March 17, 2008 - Testing Argos 3.1 Beta (screens
updated to April 3 versions)
Within the API, there are buttons to generate the
html code you will need for connecting an Argos Report object with the
Calling Web page. An this works well for me. The Report Unique
Identifier "key" below, is used to uniquely ID the object. One does
need a bit of html knowledge to use this feature, but really that
should be expected. This is a Designers Tool.
If no UserName is supplied to the Report API, then it
cannot run the report. Clear enough.
March 15, 2008 - Testing Argos 3.1 Beta
First thing you notice is the new Trash Bin! And it
works! Only an Administrator can undelete an Object.
I like the new look and feel. (But, this is a Beta.
They may change the final design.)
March 14, 2008 - Testing Argos 3.1 Beta. It installs
very easily using the same MAPS_ADMIN_INSTALLATION_ Guide.pdf as used
for 2.5. There are a few minor differences at some steps, but nothing
to be concerned about.
Argos 3.1 has a little different look. I like the new
version's look and feel. First thing you notice is a Trash Bin has
been added. I have not tried the Restore yet, but I have no doubt that
it will be useful. Only an Administrator can do a Restore. But, I bet
a non-Administrator can copy and paste?
The DataBlock and Report object (expanded) shows Report
Viewer/Report Writer/DataBlock Designer sections.
What is really special about 3.1? The new API support
to allow external apps to run Argos reports.
Just Beta tested the Beta's HowTo with Evisions (John
Tong and Sal Yu). We walked through the new interface and we tested
running a report from a new external web page in about an hour start to
finish. It would have taken less time but we could not connect our PCs
giving them access to my install (because I am connecting to our Banner
Server through a Windows VPN and between that and the Firewalls, no
go). Plus, my office is very noisy with my very old PC running as a
test "Server". It sounds like a vacuum cleaner running in here.
Keying in verbal instructions given over a conference call is really
error prone, but we did very well in spite the handicaps. John and Sal
are Argos "old timers" and we have worked together on several
Oh yes, the new API works great. It will require
someone a little familiar with html code to set up a new calling web
page, but that was anticipated with the nature of what is being done.
(Maybe a Wizard some day?) I had no problem cutting and pasting the
required code snippet generated by the API.
There is a new Chart Wizard too. Maybe I will start
doing Charts now!
Pre-SummitSession Presentation (Ready for
Summit at Last!)
How your Oracle DBA or Oracle Programmer can
Improve your Argos Reporting!
For Banner Reporting, there is a great need for
filling in the missing parts. Just as Argos provides THE missing Banner
Reporting tool, there are ways to fill in some other missing parts and
even improve your Argos Reporting.
APEX + Argos = Rapid Development + Great Banner Ad
Even with Argos, which is a great Evisions product
for Ad Hoc Banner Reporting, we still need a way to load and manage
spreadsheets into Oracle. And, what about those ubiquitous Cross
Reference (Cross-Walk) Tables you need for special reports?
Can APEX, Oracle Application Express, provide that
missing piece? Can Argos report from APEX Tables too? Well of course
Of course, there are ways to fully automate moving data into Oracle
from other resources. Ways just out of reach for a functional person
can be made available with a little help from your Oracle
Then there are Oracle Views that can simplify record
selection. Think of them as Alternate Views of a Table or even of
several Tables. Why should we need to specify the same record selection
criteria, the same Joins nearly every time we use a Table or set of
commonly paired Tables?
If you are one of the many of us that report from a
copy of yesterday’s Banner, shouldn’t some of those long running
Queries be done before you come to work?
These are things your Oracle professionals can
provide for you, but things they may never realize you are missing. We
can give them a hint or two!
And please, do plan to share your tips and hints with
Summit 2008 - Let me know if have an Argos related class and I
will post it here:
Lannie He's Summit
2008 Session Accepted:
Lannie He, Framingham State College
Tuesday, April 15, 2008 3:30 PM 4:30 PM
Argos OLAP - Adding pictures to
This session will show how we are using Argos OLAP
Data Cubes to provide complicated and comprehensive statistics to our
The OLAP is an extended functionality of Argos which
provides flexible, user friendly and cross level data summary and
detail capabilities with Banner database. In most of our cases, one
OLAP Data Cube can provide results that need to be accomplished by more
than two regular reports. Come and share the ideas with us.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008 3:00 PM 4:00 PM (Hey, 30 minutes left to get
into the other session:)
Leveraging ODS/EDW with Argos Reporting (this is the Evisions
Evisions Argos is the most rapid way to realize the
full power of your ODS & EDW investment. Easily deploy our
reporting and performance management solution and let everyone on
campus benefit from ODS & EDW. Use the ingenious SunGard Higher
Education data methodology and present this information through Argos,
wide array of distributed and advanced reporting features. This session
will cover implementation, training, and varied reporting strategies.
Client case studies from Loyola Marymount University, Southern Illinois
University Edwardsville, and more!
Argos 3.0 has been released!
There is an upgrade document available at http://evisions.com/support/Argos/
see: MAPS/Argos Upgrade Guide to 3.0 (New
There are also Release Guides for MAPS and
So, I am testing 3.0 on a Desktop machine. Much faster
than the one I used to test 2.5. This one is a GB RAM and 2.66MHz.
February 15, 2008
Got the word today that my Argos Pre-Summit session has
officially been accepted.
And also, that the beta API that will allow users to 'call' Argos
reports without having to log in and go through the standard client
interface is nearly available for me to test.
Why would anyone want to run outside of Argos? Well, it makes Argos
look like an extension of the other application in a very transparent
way for the user. You might even want to make a report available to
non-Argos users. And, there is always the impending move to Luminis
(yes, this API is a big part of integrating Argos with Luminis).
February 01, 2008
Many things happening concurrently. I have been
brought into a non-Banner Oracle application under development with the
idea of providing the project's reporting using Argos.
So, I jumped in. A new database connection (well, it
does have a few links to Banner). That is quick to add. Then, I
decided to look into a "standard" design or "template" for the Banded
Reports. I found that access to the Argos variables made displaying
report names, the current database, the path including the Folder
nesting, and of course a page number simple. With this, I when a
report object is moved, the displayed info is automatically adjusted.
Why does it matter? Well, just try to figure out which object created
a paper report that a user is questioning. A few hints are better than
a great memory.
September 14, 2007 - So, under an hour from
start to finish! Live on Argos 3.0!
July 31, 2007 - Will APEX
and Argos work together? Well, why not?
This is just a quick test of reporting from the APEX Demo, but it make
the point. (This is Argos 2.5, BTW.)
Of course it works!
APEX + Argos = Rapid Development + Great
Check Back Soon!
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