This is the Archived "Original Page" for BannerArgos and contains Argos 2.5 information.  The current BannerArgos page is for Argos 3.0 which is in Beta as of 7-16-2007.

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News: Getting ready for Argos 3.0 Beta

SETA Midwest  (I am not planning to attend, but this should be a good mini-version of the Argos Pre-Summit.)
Indianapolis, IN
Day of Argos: Monday, September 24 8-5
90-minute Evisions Argos overview with expanded training; 2 60-minute client sessions; ~3hours of roundtable, best practice and user training, sharing and innovation.

Post BUG, Arkansas Banner User Group Conference
Presented my Argos presentation May 1st , 2007 with some added notes on the Recorded Argos Training available from Evisions.  The ppt is available from the ABUG site and from my BannerScripts Repository (see below for scripts hint).

Post Summit

Just some quick notes from Summit and Pre-Summit.  Thanks to everyone that attended and participated in my sessions.  I was very pleased with the event and I especially enjoyed actually meeting many "email-friends" for the first time.  My ppt files, related scripts, and other information are available from links on my scripts page: which does unfortunately require the scripts password. 
(Requires that you allow Java Scripts to run.)

My scripts repository has scripts that are yours to view, download, and use.  But, please do not re-post the scripts on a public site without restricting access to Banner clients.  If you need the scripts password, just email me at bknox @t and ask for the scripts password.

If you cannot get into the scripts repository, I will attempt to email the files to you.  Just be warned that the ppt files are rather large.

Oh, yes.  I will be presenting my Argos presentation at ABUG, Arkansas Banner User Group Conference May 1st , 2007 at 2:15 pm.
I have added some notes on the Recorded Argos Training available from Evisions.

Some interesting answers and ideas from the Summits as soon as I have time:)

- - -

Summit 2007 March 18th - 22nd
   Argos Pre-Summit Conference - all day March 18th. 

I still need your help with the Argos Pre-Summit Tech and Admin/Security Track: A case study, a best practice, a technique, or any topic to help us deal with supporting our Argos users.   Will you share with us what works for you?  bknox @t

Here are the kinds of Offers and Questions I am getting for the Tech and Security Track:

I have a number of reports that help to determine who has certain access and what classes have certain access to help our security administrators locate the proper security class.   

I am trying to get a report working that notifies me when a user is set up in Argos, but is no longer an employee, so that I can clean up Argos. 

We use Argos with SCT's Operational Data Store (ODS).  We are interested in meeting with the Argos consultants familiar with our environment. 

How to handle continuous updates from Evisions? 

How to handle problems with using LDAP server on Argos?  

I would like to see how people have implemented any of the various Banner Security models in Argos? 

I'd love to see how anyone has implemented any of the various Banner security models in Argos.   

We are trying to figure out how to approach end-user account creation and security. 

 My Banner Reporting Presentation: Tuesday 20-March 10:00 AM 11:00 AM Class 735   Argos - Moving into the Community

Bruce Knox 2007 CES Directory Photo  See you at Pre-Summit and Summit!  I need more participants for the Tech Track!

Other Argos Classes scheduled are: 

Tuesday 20-March 2:00 PM 3:00 PM 1471 Evisions ARGOS--Reporting Redefined
Matthew McLellan Evisions, Inc.
Having worked with fine educational institutions the world-over, Evisions has created the preeminent web-based ad hoc reporting solution-just for you. See the difference intense dedication and innovative development can deliver. Reporting Redefined. Argos can report from any database; Oracle, Access, SQL, etc. Specific to Banner, users have had great success using Argos to report from the ODS and EDW. Argos can tie directly into Banner security and allows drill security down to the field and record level.

Wednesday 21-March 3:00 PM 4:00 PM 1018 Argos--Training, Development, Insight
Robert Campbell Auburn University
Argos and Auburn University Training, Development, and Insight Robert Campbell Auburn University Abstract Auburn University currently uses Argos for Ad-Hoc reporting. In the prior system, the reporting tool used differed from it. This has posed a very challenging and interesting task to the end-user. We wish to share our training methods, changes in our teaching style, and other useful ideas with other institutions. We would also like to present how we have handled issues, both from eVisions as well as SCT. This ranges from timeouts within Argos to creating custom views from within ODS. Last, we would like to share what we had known before and what mistakes to avoid and to share where we see using Argos in the next year.


Getting Started Quick Tips:

A suggested Argos Installation Plan using files from the Argos Resources site: 

    A. You will need YourSchoolName.mapslicense, after you download the Argos software
    B. Install MAPS using
Argos Install / Admin Guide, MAPS_ADMIN_INSTALLATION_ Guide.pdf
    C. Review the Argos Installation Multimedia Presentations
    D. Install the Sample DataBlocks using 
Argos Sample Datablock Installation Guide
    E. Creating Your First DataBlocks a.k.a.
Argos Getting Started Guide using gettingstarted_2.0.pdf

(The Getting Started Guide covers DataBlock creation in detail from simple to complex including query, QuickView, simple Report, complex Report, and output to Excel.  This is great for Power Users.)

BannerArgos will replace our MS Access based BannerAccess

This site documents our migration from BannerAccess to BannerArgos.  by Bruce Knox

BannerAccess is a collection of Predefined SQL Pass-Through Queries connecting MS Access to SunGard Higher Education's Banner (Oracle) Database product.  We have successfully used BannerAccess for the last six years.  Now we are moving to replace the MS Access part of this tool with Evisions' Argos, a web based Ad hoc reporting tool.

The BannerAccess site will continue to be documented at since there are a number of people using that site for a reference.  The 895 member BannerAccess Listserv is separately maintained by Bruce Loving of The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.


The initial plan is to download the Argos software and install it on a Desktop Windows XP Pro machine that already has the Oracle 9i Client software installed.  This will give us a working Oracle Provider for OLE DB, OraOLEDB, to our Production and Test Banner Instances on our IBM p630 AIX (UNIX) server(BannerAccess used ODBC DAO, Data Access Objects, to connect.  Argos uses ADO, ActiveX Data Objects, which is a much improved connecting technology.)  After some early testing, we will move Argos to a Windows 2003 Server in our central offices.

Our Little Rock State Office has a small IT staff and a few servers behind a firewall.  Locating the Argos software on a Windows Server in our computer room will give our software a very quick connection to our Banner Server (IBM AIX) plus the protections offered by a well managed data center.

The following is a draft of the Installation and early setup.  If you are looking for polished documentation, come back much later:)  written 4/13/2006  These are my personal notes on this experience.  The document is neither intended to be academically rigorous, nor is it an official position or statement of the university.

Step 1. Get an ID/Password for the Argos support site:

This link is to a submission form that allows Evisions to restrict the downloads to their clients and prospects.  (This also allows Evisions to provide a SunGard Higher Education required password protection of Banner information.  This page will avoid that level of exposure.)  We were an existing client using other Evisions software (FormFusion) and it took only minutes to get a human acknowledgement of my request.  With time zone differences and the late hour of my request, I expected a delay in getting the ID/password.  But, it took less than a workday to get my ID/password for the Argos Support Site.
Multiple Application Platform Server is the future for all Evisions products.  This web-based application server, that makes administration of Evisions products much simpler, is explained in detail in the MAPS_ADMIN_INSTALLATION_ Guide_2.1.pdf document.  The MAP Server is a significant achievement.

Step 2. Loading the Software.

On the MAPS machine, your Argos Server, the software requires less than 9MB of disk space to download the installation and setup files.   After Installation and Importing the Sample DataBlocks this becomes about 90MB (before any cleanup which should reduce the total by 1/3).  It requires a machine powerful enough to support the expected transaction rate.  Difficult to know at this point, but the software will install on a nearly six year old high-end PC.  Really minimal hardware required before the workload is considered.

The officially stated hardware requirements are matched fairly well to current, good desktop workstations.  Any recently purchased Windows Server should do very well.  To test without any other users, I have used a 800MHz single processor PC with 256 MB of RAM as my "server".   Note that this is well below the Evisions specified hardware requirements:

Server OS Requirements
Windows 2000, XP, or 2003 (Window 2003 Server preferred)
Network connectivity (for others to launch the client)
Appropriate OLE DB driver(s)  (
can be downloaded from Argos support site)

Minimum Server Requirements
1.8 GHz CPU or better< style="font-weight: 400">
100 MB free hard disk space

Recommended Server
    (March 2006)                                   (MAP Server will be used by all Evisions Software)
Single or Dual-Core 3.0 GHz process with 2MB of L2 cache
1GB Ram+10MB RAM per concurrent user
2GB free hard disk space

End User Requirements
Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator
Mozilla Firefox (with minor configuration)
Internet or Intranet Access

More Step 2.  If you are accustomed to following Steve Rea’s install notes, get ready for some enlightenment.   My notes here are more stream of consciousness or perhaps more akin to sleep-writing, depending upon the hour.  I am more concerned with major sticking points here than the blow by blow details.  I will go back and add some important screen shots for clarification, but not on this first draft.  (Anyway, by the time you try this, the interface will be slightly different :)

Note: read both the MAPS_ADMIN_INSTALLATION_ Guide_2.1.pdf for instructions for installing the shared MAPS,  and the Argos Installation Tutorial, as guides for the install!! 

Drat, it downloaded 2.7MB of the Update Server step and then I lost my dial-up connection (or so it thought).  I will try it via my Cable Modem.

Why would anyone use dial-up when they have Cable??  Easy answer, dynamic IP and Firewall issues :( 
(I work some fifty miles north of our datacenter.)

Hmm, it (MAPS) thinks I have used a bad password too many times (no, usually that might be the case, but not this time :)  It must be using the password internally to do a disconnect/reconnect (just guessing). 

Gee, I remember seeing a grayed-out one hour lockout for excessive attempts.  I will try to reinstall it.  Oh, it has a repair option.  Umm, same result.  OK, try the uninstall option.  Remove!

Huh, that's cool (yes, that dates me).  I had gotten to the point of changing the password the first time and the earlier change was remembered even though I used the (un)Install's “Remove” option before restarting the Install ;)

 I think the MAP Server Configuration "User and Groups" tab is now "Groups" which contains the Everyone Icon.  Oops!  Make that "User" if you have not changed the Administrator password.  There are now two tabs instead of one.

Turns out that it (the MAPS Install) probably was completed using the dial-up and just could not complete the close and re-open without me taking the Cancel button.  Reinstalled it on the Cable and it hesitated at that same place but then it closed the warning message window automatically.  I think that did it.  There must be a timing issue for extremely slow connections:)

Adding the ADO Connections is pretty easy and quick if you have the Oracle Client already installed.  On a desktop PC, you may already have this.  On a server?  You probably will need to install the Oracle Client first.  (We will find out when our server is installed.  Just being ordered about now:)

Login - Is the Oracle Client already installed?

OK, I know there are too many images here.  Most of this is already in the Guide.  I will prune the collection later after I review the Guide(s) again. 

Login and link to installing License Key.

MAP Server Configuration - ADO Connections

Import License - University of Arkansas Cooperative Ext Svc.mapslicense selected

MAP Server Configuration - Server selected and partial Institution Key displayed.

MAP Server Configuration - Configure Administrator

Don’t know if .1hour(s) will work, but it is worth a try for me being password clueless.
Double Click on the Administrator (User Name) to pop the password change window.

MAP Server Configuration - MAP Server Update

Update Server - When should the server be updated?

Product Updater - Please wait ...

Product Updater - Update successful

MAP Server Configuration - MAP Server Selecting Update

MAP Server Configuration - New Connection Pool Selected

Hmm, it shares a pool of connections.  I think that MS Access could not pull that off with the old DAO ODBC connections.  ADO provides a much improved and more efficient connection.

MAP Server Configuration - Create New Connection Pool

Banner Seemed like a good name?  We can always change it later.

MAP Server Configuration - Creating the Banner Connection

About to make a mistake here:

Edit ADO Connection - Connection Name should be Server_PROD, not PROD

Tried to connect several times and no go.  Ha, it’s and old friend, i.e., a common programmer's nemesis,  it is the "server_PROD" vs. "PROD" issue from the ODBC Data Source setup.  That was the problem!  (Oh yes, I must remember proper eduspeak.  Today there are issues, never problems.  Maybe we could solve issues better if they were tagged as problems, again.  Somehow, "problem solving" just works better than "issue resolution" for me.) 

Back on track: i.e., the proper entry requires the DSN, not the DBQ.
Use the DSN, your is likely server_PROD or server_PPRD.

(Interrupted for a couple of hours to write a new SQL*Plus report, where were we ...)

The following is a lot of details, but I think it should help with resolving this important question:

If you know your tnsnames.ora entry for your server from setting up your Oracle Home, then look for:

(ADDRESS = (PROTOCOL = TCP)(HOST = servername or IP Address)(PORT = 1521))

An older Oracle version might also look like:

    (ADDRESS = (PROTOCOL = TCP)(HOST = servername_or_IP_Address)(PORT = 1521))

Keep in mind that the port number is just the standard one for ODBC.  Your SysAdmin might have it changed to protect you:)   Your SERVER_PROD might be most anything, but it will often be the servername plus _PROD.

Maybe MERCURY_PROD, ALPHA_PROD, ...   They get rather creative with the server names.  (Often they are part of an inside joke or a favorite character:)

You do not want the SID or Service Name for your MAPS install.  You want the Connection Name or the DSN (Data Server Name) which in the two examples from tnsnames.ora, above, is "SERVER_PROD".   It is not "PROD". 
For Internet Native Banner, INB, this Connection Name or DSN would be the "Database" field in the Logon Window.

Step 3.  You might want to add a http://localhost:8080 to your Browser Favorites or your links collection.  This is how you manage MAPS (at least to this point:).

Adding a Connection for PROD.  Click on Add Connection (within the same Connection Pool).  Select Oracle for the SQL Format (drop-down).  Click on Everyone. 

(BTW, you need two good monitors to do this or you need to print the PDFs so you can read the next step quickly.  MAPS Installation and Admin Guide is currently 73 pages.)

Then, you click on the Ellipsis [...] in the ADO Connection String (you don't want to type this, it is long and you'd make a mistake, if you type as well as I :)  Under the Provider Tab will be a list of installed drivers. 
Select the Look for and select "Oracle Provider for OLE DB". 

Data Link Properties - Oracle Provider for OLE DB Missing

No Oracle Provider for OLE DB!! 

Too bad:(  While you could use the MS Drivers, the consensus is that you should use the Oracle Drivers to get the most from Oracle.  To do this, you need to install the Oracle Client, a good hour (on an older PC) of mostly waiting for the Oracle Universal Installer to walk through the setup.  If you must do this for Oracle 9i, then be warned that prior Oracle references must be removed first and you will need the MS Frameworks installed too.  The Oracle Installer will not tell you that you need this until it fails:)  You really want to be sure that you need to do this before starting.  If your DBA has set up a network Oracle Home and the ODBC/OLE DB drivers, she may have a better way for you to make this happen.

If you do not have this "Oracle Provider for OLE DB" driver installed, you can install it using the Oracle 9i Client Universal Installer.  If you do not have the Oracle 9i Client CD, look for oracle_oledb.exe (This file is huge.  80MB and the Oracle install requires about 100MB even after you clean out the setup files.) on the Evisions Support Site.  (Note that the Universal Installer does not uninstall older versions of Oracle.  I suggest that you totally clean Oracle and ODBC from your PC before starting.  Doing so will save you some time.

Be careful:)  Especially note that removing all the Oracle files will require you to reinstall the Java infrastructure code (this is a changing target still) required for INB.  You could be off Banner for a while:)

oracle_oledb.exe:  Run it (expand it, yes expand) and it places the expanded files into an new Disk1 Folder.  oraparam.ini contains info that will be used by setup.exe for defaults.  You do need to know your Oracle Home if one has been set up on your Network!
Run setup.exe in Disk1.  This will start up very, very slowly, just wait.  (June 1, 2006  - Ah, just installed it on a new 3GHz 1GB PC and it is not so bad:) You need a lot of patience to do the Oracle Client OLE DB install on an older PC.  Apparently it needs a GB of RAM, as does Banner INB.  The Oracle install is four times faster on a machine with a GB of RAM.

But, with luck, you will not need to install the Oracle Client at all.  If you see this:

Data Link Properties - Oracle Provider for OLE DB Selected

then, you have the drivers you need for the MAPS/Argos Install (which is far, far easier than the Oracle Client:).

Click on the Everyone Icon (under the "Rules for connecting a user to this ADO connection.  This will make the fields to the right of the Everyone Icon available to you. 

In the first of these fields, pick the "Use the following user and password" value from the drop-down.  For Username use the Banner DBA Username used to make views universally available in Banner.  (This is a Banner ID, talk to your DBA to get the password; you might need your DBA to handle this part of the setup?).  If you still cannot guess the Username, the ID is in the MAPS_ADMIN_INSTALLATION_ Guide_2.1.pdf.  I will not post it here since it is Banner internal information. 

Step 4. Allow your ID to have access to the Instance you added under connections (this is a MAPS grant, not an Oracle grant).

Step 5. in Argos, i.e., http://localhost:8080/argos/

Add a Folder as "non_Banner" and in the Folder Add a New DataBook.  The MAPS ID used to grant access to these objects must have User Type of Administrator or Designer.  Test by trying Edit which opens looks something like a MS Access Design View.  Try it using PPRD ...

Eureka! It works!!  4/13/2006

Aha, the system generates logs each day of, looks like, everything it does.  see: C:\Program Files\Evisions\MAPS\Service\Logs

Step 6. Use the "Argos Sample Datablock Installation Guide" to Install Sample Datablocks (Objects). 

Summary: Unzip the Banner 20051222 Sample and then Import the objects.  This takes a while, there are a lot of examples.  You will now have a Banner Folder containing Objects (Datablocks) for each Banner Application area. These you can execute these immediately.  Just use the  "Argos Sample Datablock Installation Guide", it is very clear and useful.  In fact, you might find it useful to scan through this document before Installing  MAPS and Argos.

Just browsing the system for a while!  Running some samples and looking into the design.  (Hey, it's a new toy:)  4/14/2006

New Stage: Plan What to Convert from our multiple copies of BannerAccess

BannerAccess was set up as a set of about 200 predefined MS Access Pass-Through Queries (300 after about one year of use).  These allowed the functional users to treat the predefined objects as building blocks.  Add the Queries (building blocks), drag a field from the field list of one Query to the equivalent field of the other Query and you have completed the hardest part of reporting from Banner.

The best part of this concept was the limiting of the Objects seen by the user to a small working subset of the massive number of Banner Tables.  This small set of predefined Queries really cut the learning curve for the users.

For example, a Query that would quickly earn one the eternal gratitude of every Secretary:)

BannerAccess Query - Instant Animosity

Argos promises to give us all of these benefits (well OK, not the eternal gratitude part).  When I first saw Argos demonstrated by Kevin Jones, Evisions' President, Argos was still in Beta testing.  I instantly saw the similarities and marked improvement that Argos represented over my BannerAccess implementation.  I started my campaign to acquire Argos before the presentation ended.  No, this is not an endorsement of Argos by the university.  We absolutely cannot give endorsements of products.  Read the page and the Division Disclaimers if there is any doubt! 
(I caution you to not be overly influenced by any "implied endorsement" due to the fact that I am now implementing Argos for our users:) 

Back on Track:  We allowed each User to have their own BannerAccess.mdb (MS Access Database file) for several reasons.  Privacy and network load (we had standard Ethernet back then) were too big concerns.  We also wanted to allow each user to make modifications without risking damage to another user's database.   But, having many copies on individual PCs soon got out of hand.  We have only a few BannerAccess users, but I know that we have at least 20 current variations of the original database.

So now, on to the new design.  We want to consolidate the many individual versions into a master working set, limit the individual user's access to only selected Objects, and make maintaining then all easier.  With BannerAccess, we created new Objects, Exported them to a very small MS Access database, transferred the database to users, and then Imported the Objects to the many individual versions.  (This is all very similar to the Export/Import of Argos' DataBlocks.)  With Argos, we will only have a single Argos system instead of many individual databases.  The end users should never need to Export/Import Objects to get programmer assistance because I, the programmer or Designer in Argos terms, will have access to each user's Objects.

First we must pick the best of the multiple versions and identify which Objects need to have restricted access.  Then we need to identify what is missing from each of the other users' databases.  We also need a to consider the impact of our simplified "Table" (really BannerAccess Query, but Oracle Table) naming.  We dropped the owner part from each Table name to simplify the concept.  (Well, I am not going to resolve that question today.)  04/15/2006

April 18, 2006 - Soon, I need to try a few conversions from my BannerAccess Objects.  I think I will start with my favorite, Names.  This one gives names in various useful formats, such as Legal Name and Preferred Name without the user needing to deal with the multiple Banner Tables, Joins, Dates Limits or other curious selection requirements.  But first, I want to check the Argos Datablock Repository to see if there are any free program objects available from other Argos clients.

OK, found the repository.  It is called the Argos COOP, that works well here (we're Cooperative Extension Service so we get the concept).  It is available under the Argos Power User page:   Look for:

Argos COOP logo and LOGIN

Wow!  I found 59 Objects of interest for our use.  (Keep in mind, uaex does not have the Student, Alumni, and Financial Aid Banner applications each of which has objects in the repository.)  Of special interest are the DataBlocks with Fund/Orgn Security examples.  I remember asking if Argos handled Fund/Orgn Security in that first presentation I attended (October 2004), before this had been done. 

For downloading the DataBlocks, you will want to use the "Publish Site" button from Argos.  Don't worry, you are not going to publish anything, yet.  The "Publish Site" button takes you to an Argos Login which is for the Evisions Argos COOP site.  Using this to add your downloaded objects will save you a lot of trouble.  The "Reviewed Only" category just means that the code runs for the Argos staff.  If you have moved a lot of code from one system to another, you know that this is a significant first step.

Using the site via the "Publish Site" button will give you automatic naming of the objects you Import.  If you download from the COOP site directly, you will need to name the object yourself.  (Doesn't sound too hard?  Well, just try downing load a bunch of files and then try guessing the new object names that you should give to each Import:)

Trying to get a better connection to the Banner Server.  No luck so far.  Looking for an Argos Server in the same location as the Banner Server tomorrow.  This part could take a while.

April 19, 2006 -  Made some needed changes to better match web standards. 

Argos Training class today!  Planning to attend "Argos Weekly Training - Power Users" class today.
The classes are done via Web Conferences.  Clients can join one by just going to

First, you might want to add the site to you Allowed Pop-ups.  Then, go to the System Tools panel and select the "Test Browser" button.  This will determine the quality of your connectivity and the ability of your PC can handle the session.  Most likely, you will need to download the Java VM, but the link will walk you through everything you need.

The actual classes are under the "Public Area" button.  Go ahead and "Install Collaboration Player".   Note the Date and Time Zone dropdowns.  These can help you get oriented to the session you planned to attend (watch out, the site defaults to Eastern Time:) 

Once you join a session, you will call an 888 number (I won't publish that).  (You will really want a speaker phone or a headset for this.)  Once into the auto answer, enter the Extension and you are connected to the Voice part of the session.  This is two-way, so please mute your phone unless you really have something to say.  Mute cuts the total background noise and improves the session sound quality. 

BTW, Robert (Rob) Hagmaier gave the session.  Very well done, Rob!

April 20, 2006 - Uploaded my first DataBlock to the Argos COOP site.  It gives a list of the Banner functions from the database sys.dba_source Table.  There was a discussion on the Argos List about how to find the Banner functions documentation.  As best I can tell, this is the way to find out what each function does.  My first DataBlock is rather simplistic.  Hopefully, someone will extend it.

The Upload process is very simple.  You do this from inside your running Argos page using the "Publish" button.  I think there should be a Technical repository on the site to isolate code like this:)

April 24, 2006 - ABUG, Arkansas Banner User Group annual meeting was held at Harding University in Searcy.  There were at least three of the nine campuses represented use Argos.

April 25, 2006 - There are many references for porting MS Access Tables to Oracle, but I find nothing for porting the Visual Basic for Applications, the code used for MS Access selection criteria.  I also am finding no way to stack the DataBlocks, i.e., to Build a Query from other Queries.  I think there may need to be a way to offer default selection criteria for each table.  An easy to select or ignore set of criteria based upon the table under consideration.  One could generate them automatically from rules such as the ones I used for my table_to_query.sql script.

April 26, 2006 - I need to re-upload my Functions DataBlock.  As is, my long description is causing problems with the download and install.  (Just use short descriptions.  Looks better on the Download page too:)

April 27, 2006 - Working on meeting our Webpage Standards for Images, Alternative Representation: Text.

April 28-30, 2006 - I am still struggling with making the conversion from BannerAccess to BannerArgos. The concept of building Queries from Queries is what makes BannerAccess easy and that ability is pushed towards Oracle with Argos. I am not wanting to give in to creating Oracle Views for our predefined Queries, but I think that may be the best way available for now.  I have thought of adding a list of selection criteria for all the Tables so that one could attempt a cut-n-paste for applying the standard criteria as used in BannerAccess to the Banner Tables in Argos.

I have also been thinking such a standard set of criteria could be added to Argos as a new feature. It would make Argos programming much easier. Just offering a set of "default criteria" for each Banner Table would make many of the Banner Tables instantly usable for end user reporting of current record.  With this "default criteria" one could select the most frequently used Records for the Banner Tables and get the BannerAccess Queries without needing to know the effective, termination, start, end date logic, etc.  Plus, one could just delete/add parts, as needed, to modify (rather an easier way of doing our mods to BannerAccess' predefined Quires).  Argos could use logic similar to table_to_query.sql to give users a way to get the suggested or default criteria.  (note: table_to_query.sql offered more than was needed:)

May 1, 2006 - Acquired a copy of Brett Powell's Summit and SETA presentation, Campus-Wide Reporting Tool Selection.  This gives the details of how UALR, one of our sister organizations, evaluated Argos and competing products.  UALR has been using Argos since the Beta release.  UALR is also using BannerAccess, so we share some very common interest.

May 2, 2006 - Firewall issues resolved.  Now I can move our Argos "temporary test" Server to a faster PC and a much faster communications line!

May 5, 2006 - Delays from non-Argos related workload.  Today, I finally got back to completing my install on my faster PC with the faster com line.  I discovered that I needed to remove a previous Oracle install.  This machine has seen a lot of installations and tests.  This is still away from the datacenter using a desktop PC, not a Server.  Cleaned the Oracle remnants and stepped through the Oracle 9i install plus the MS Network Setup which just defines the Data Sources.  Is this needed for Argos?  I don't know, but I felt that I needed to prove that MS Access could connect via the new Oracle Home first.  I will need the BannerAccess to be connected for my conversion anyway.

Doing this, you will end up with something like the tnsnames.ora shown earlier.  For the HOST, I actually use the IP Address of the Banner Server instead of the ServerName, because I feel it reduces the number of points of failure (another server for DNS).  Doing this will require changing my setup if the IP Address is ever change, but that should be infrequent.  This approach has severed me well.

The Oracle Universal Installer has the slowest startup of any installer I have ever endured.  You will think the program is not working, but you just have to wait it out.  If you move the mouse pointer around, you will find a spot that pops the hourglass that was supposed to go away with Windows 95.  Finally it will pop a banner for the product and you can start the multi-step setup.  The last time I did this, the banner page popped minimized.  Strange way to design a system.  I am sure glad that Oracle runs better than it installs its client.  Makes me think being a DBA would be something I lack the patience to do.  I like making new reports in just a few minutes and then moving on to other tasks.  Watching a machine doing much of nothing is just boring.  Finally, we are done and MS Access is connected to the Banner Server.  All of this took about one hour, although it sounds much worse reading it here.  The first time you do the process may take a bit longer,  but I have this one down to a routine.

Being stolen away again.  But, I really want to test my upload to COOP again.  On my first installed machine, I can upload easily, but then the download of my file is not usable.  Seems to be unique to me as no one else has reported the problem.  Turns out that my BannerFunctions source code viewing report is something that Rob Hagmaier had generalized and almost has ready to release.  I have a copy of his effort now and it is looking very good.  Well, it looks good if you consider how hard it is to work with the way this info is stored in Oracle.  The source is stored in LONG Data Type fields which are much like Memo fields in MS Access, but the interface with the LONG Data Type is not as well mannered.  Then there are the VIEWs which for some reason have their source not stored the same way as the other Objects.  I have seen no explanation for this.  I have found no way to examine the source code for a VIEW other than finding the file used to create the VIEW.  Fortunately, this is not difficult from Command Line, but it is beyond reach for any client app that I have found.  It would seem to me that a Function and a View would be done the same way, but someone took a wrong turn in that development.  (I need to check Toad and Raptor to be sure of this conclusion.  Things do change in Oracle.)

Copyright 2002 Cision Studios  And Now on to Argos:

May 8, 2006 - And Argos installs without any problems.  Tried to solve Rob's universal Oracle Object DataBlock and I think it is beyond any solution that lacks Oracle PL/SQL.  The problem is that the source code for most Objects is stored in VARCHAR2 fields and the Views' source code is stored in a LONG DataType field.  You can trick Oracle into giving you a UNION of the two data types by using a NULL, VARCHAR2 UNION LONG, NULL combination, but that only allows the code to run, not to give you anything useful.  There is no way to set the required "SET LONG nnnn" to get the contents returned in appropriate groups (i.e., you see nothing in the results).
I think this will require a different approach.

May 11, 2006  -  Interrupted by work again!  Projects get queued waiting for resources.  The pattern is just like any other queue.  You can hurry and wait (very inefficient use of time).  Or, you can try to do many things concurrently hoping that several critical projects will not open up for you at the same time.  It is wishful thinking because the projects always return in clusters. They run together just like cars on a highway.  (Well, in some places this is a lost observation.  Once when traffic was less, one could see open spaces between cars on a highway.  Then there would be a group of cars traveling together with open spaces in front and behind the group of cars.)

May 20, 2006  --  There have been several requests for comparisons of the various "Banner Reporting Solutions" products.   The community seems to be generally are aware of Brett Powell's Summit and SETA presentation, Campus-Wide Reporting Tool Selection (also, see May 1, 2006 above), but they want more detail.  While I was not involved in the UALR study, I have reviewed some of the underlying information (which Brett does not plan to make generally available) and I can tell you that I would have come to the same decision.  If Argos is equal, in your estimation, in most other aspects, the decision is a simple one, because the price advantage is overwhelmingly in favor of Argos.

May 26, 2006 -- The new Banner Application server hardware has been delivered. 

Wow!  I am impressed, the pair of new Banner application servers, each have:

   Dual Intel XEON 3.40GHZ w/800MHz FSB 2MB L2 Cache Processor
   2048MB (2-1024MB modules) Single Rank 400MHz DDR2 ECC SDRAM 4
   73GB Ultra320 SCSI SCA 10K rpm Hot Swappable Hard Drive 8
   RAID Level 5 + Hot Spare 2
   LSI MegaRAID U320-2E 2 Channel SCSI x8 PCIe RAID w/128MB

(These machines are so inexpensive now.  I nearly paid as much over twenty years ago for our (at Arkansas Systems, Inc. which is another story) first PC which had no hard drive.)

Steve (our DBA) is installing Oracle such that the two new machines can serve both Banner WebForms INB and Self-Service.  Normally, only one of these Banner applications will be running on each machine.  If one server goes down, the other machine can serve both Banner applications (probably with some unhappy users due to degraded response time).  BTW, this very flexible approach can also be extremely useful for making upgrades easier on the DBA and the Banner Users (that goes for the Database Programmers too:).  We have finally managed to acquire an Oracle Site License which has made system design far more flexible than anything we could set up with a Single Machine License.

MAPS and Argos will also be installed and run on one of these machines.  I expect Argos to have an insignificant impact on the loading of our Banner WebForms or Self-Service machines.

We currently have twenty BannerAccess users, mostly in Financial Services.  Our Non Financial Services end-users do not use BannerAccess to run their own reports.  Unless this changes significantly, I anticipate that Argos will reduce the load on our Banner Server by replacing many of our current BannerAccess Queries with more efficient to run code. 

Argos lends itself to allowing one to easily create and run Parameter Queries at the Oracle code level.  That is, Argos is designed to allow one to create Oracle code which can select just the records needed before the Query results are returned to the Client machine (the Argos server in this case).   Our BannerAccess uses just such Oracle code in our Logon Form.  But, creating such a Query in BannerAccess is anything but easy.

With Argos, making a new Parameter Query is fairly simple and quickly done.  MS Access can do this too, using SQL Pass-Though Queries built from Visual Basic code, but it takes considerable effort to set up each new Parameter Query for MS Access connected to Oracle (Banner). 

The result of this MS Access difficulty is that Ad Hoc users are unlikely to ever set up an efficient MS Access SQL Pass-Through Query using Parameters for the Oracle code.  Do not be confused by the simple to set up Parameters that are available in MS Access' Query Design mode.  These still require the entire underlying Oracle Table or View’s records to be passed to the machine running MS Access.   While MS Access can be made to run very efficient Queries, but most of us will never create one.

Another reason to expect a reduced load on our Banner Server is due to Argos using ADO.  With BannerAccess, which uses DAO, each user’ connection to the Banner Server remains in place from the Logon until the MS Access database is closed.  

With Argos, you will be hard pressed to catch connected processes on the Banner Server unless you do so from within Argos (or the Query is long).  ADO connects, completes the Query, and then disconnects.  If you look for the Argos processes on your Banner Server between Queries, Argos will not be there.   All the Argos users can share a common pool of connections.  One might suspect that all this opening and closing would present a high overhead, but I see no evidence of this at all.

June 2, 2006  -  Someone recently asked if I like Argos.  Like the product?  I have been campaigning to get it since before I left a Beta demo session where I first learned of Argos. YES! I like it, and now I would like to extend it:)

Argos can do automatic joins.  Auto joins?  Yes, Argos can use the Oracle Primary Key in one Table to automatically make a SQL Join to another Table's Foreign Key.  Now that is very useful saving a lot of typing and clicking:)

How interesting.  You can just type, I would say SPRIDEN but that might cause problems.  Hmm, let's try it.  You just type the Table name and Argos offers you the Table with the Owner or just the Alias, i.e., SPRIDEN.  How cool is that!

June 23, 2006  -  I have been compiling a "Wish List" for Argos.  Little things that I think would turn Argos into the only Ad Hoc Report Generator anyone, any Power-User or programmer, would want.  I am not ready to share it on the site. 

I am also working on how to best handle our BannerAccess, i.e., Banner via. MS Access, conversion to BannerArgos.  My Financial Services folks are too busy preparing for Year End to consider such projects as our BannerAccess conversion to BannerArgos at the moment.  So, I am working on the universally applicable parts and testing ideas.  Nothing worth sharing, yet!

August 30, 2006  -  Yes, over two months since the last post.  Major diversions for Year End and then Conversion of Payroll from once a month to twice a month.  If you think that changing the payroll frequency just requires running it twice instead of once, then you have no idea.

I am waiting to post my Argos Wish List until after I see Argos 2.5.

We now have our new Argos Windows 2003 Server available.  This machine is being set up with its twin for running Banner WebApps and SelfService.  Normally, only one of the Banner INB applications will be running on each machine.  Our DBA has set them up so that both apps could be run on a single machine if necessary.  Argos will use the second of the pair for a backup as well.

Installing Argos on the Server is much like installing it on PC, but there are more people involved and way too many passwords.
We installed the Oracle Client using the subset provided by Evisions.  (Actually, we tried to install the Oracle Client CD first and then uninstalled it.  Using the subset from Evisions is much simpler and even better, it worked.)  Then we tried the MAPS install and were stopped dead by http://localhost:8080 doing nothing.  No other application started up, but neither did the MAPS install.  A quick note to Support got that fixed.  8080 was not popping an existing application, but the server would not allow MAPS to use it.  So, we changed the port.

Then we are back to FireWall issues.  To do a remote install, you need the port (8080 or changed) for the webpage and you need port 27467, which is actually the port for logging onto the application and will handle all traffic between the client and the server. 

August 31, 2006  -  Had the MAP Server password reset using the HelpDesk instructions.  Easy to do, if you have on-site access to the server hardware.  If not, then the limit on attempts to connect really gets in the way. 

September 1, 2006  -  Still blocked, presumably by the firewall.   And now, the holiday is approaching rapidly.   (So, how did this happen?  Well, the day I was on-site our Windows Server System Administrator was not.) ...

September 11, 2006  -  It had nothing to do with the FireWall.  I just had to remove and install MAPS again.  Now I can run MAP Server Configuration and Argos from anywhere.  Updated the Argos software to 2.5 in several steps.  The Product Updates are applied automatically but you need to run the "Check for Updates" (via a Button in MAPS that runs Product Updater) if you want to start the process before the next automatic check for updates is scheduled.

September 13, 2006  -  Trying to decide which of the several security approaches to use.  Argos and Banner Security looks good.  This will allow the Users to Login with their Banner User ID and their permissions will be controlled by their Banner Roles.  We do not have SunGardHE's Luminus, nor do not have a LDAP server.  So, I am keying in the User IDs ...

September 14, 2006  -  I have gotten a couple of test IDs to check how this looks to our users.  One is set up for Finance and the other for Payroll.  To explain: I support both functional areas and my normal login has DBA privileges.  That is great for me when I need to accomplish any changes we need in our system, but it means that I get a superset of the functional users view of Banner (and therefore, BannerArgos).  So, I now have a couple of test User IDs that will let me play functional user.  So far, no luck with them.  I am trying to test that they work with the Banner Security script.

This is strange.  I can log in with my normal User ID, but Steve Rea cannot.  I set up the Argos Users and the only thing that should be different is that I entered my password when I did the Add User for myself.

First big difference is that Steve got the MAPS

and he added the Server Address.  But, he cannot get into Argos.  He is getting the equivalent of:

as I did before adding my password to the MAPS "Finance" User setup. 

Now, I get:

which I assume means that we are getting past the Argos filters and are being stopped by Oracle.

I am thinking that Steve would be able to get past this once he is past the Argos filter.  (Steve is our DBA and has a superset of my privileges and all things DBA.  I am guessing that when he set up my new "Finance" User ID, that something is different that my normal User ID.  But, just guessing ...

>>> Steve Rea 9/14/2006 12:04:45 PM >>> " got in the configuration address as administrator, added my Banner password to srea, logged out, logged in the argos address as srea (I had to delete and re-enter "CES Argos", since it showed "CES Argos" instead of the IP number in the Server Address area when I clicked on the original "CES Argos" that I had entered, and got an Invalid Address error when I tried that Login), and got in successfully. So, apparently, you have to enter the passwords manually (they don't transfer over from Banner), or, maybe Argos has a function that DOES transfer over the passwords.

When I Logout and close my web screens and try the argos address again, all it shows me is the username and password fields (not the MAPS Server Address prompts)."

OK, just as I suspected. We are missing some Argos step there for their Login and it will not allow our Banner Login until we get past that one.  That does leave me with a curious situation with bknoxf and bknoxp.  I still cannot get past the Banner Login after I enter the pw in the MAPS User Setup.   There must be something I have missed.  Ah, got bknoxp to login by Adding Everyone to Argos and entering the pw in the MAPS setup.  But, it only works if bknoxp is set up as Administrator.  That means that the script is not working or not being used.

September 14, 2006  -  A problem with too many variables; we need to eliminate some of the changes to reduce the number of variables to a manageable number. 

1. We have a new ARGOS Object added to Oracle. 

2. We have a new connection Script that uses the ARGOS Object.

3. We know that bknox as an Argos Administrator can get into Banner.  bknoxp can also get past the Login as an Administrator but sees no existing Objects.  (Note that bknox created or imported the objects that bknoxp cannot see.)

Both srea and bknox can use the underlying Objects that the Script uses via ARGOS.  bknoxp cannot.

So, we could try bypassing ARGOS while still using the Script.  Since the Script is part of the Connection, that would still leave the question of how does Argos know which database to use for its Login.  I need to find the missing step in our install.  The step that makes a Connection available to the Argos Login.

Let's see if the Script will work with ARGOS' underlying Object.  Changed the Object.  bknox as an Administrator can Login and can report from Banner.  That was expected, since bknox still has the password specified in the Argos User Source.

Remove the pw from Source and we are back to:

OK, put the pw back into Source.  Change from Administrator to Designer.  That Login gets me to:

Hmm, so bknox does not have permission to the existing Folder! 

Let's go back to bknoxf.

When you create a User in Argos, give it a password, any password, and Check the "User must password change at next logon" check box. 

When the new User logs in, with the bogus password rather than the Banner password:


Enter the Banner password this time. 
OK, that gets me into Argos and I see the Folders!!   Let's push it and try to get into Banner.

Hmm, thought I just entered the correct one in Argos’ Login.  OK, enter it again! 

Success!  It finds the Banner information:)

The key is to give the new Argos User a bogus password.   I have been bypassing the setup logic by giving Argos User Source the correct Banner password:(  So, give it a setup pw, like abc12 and have it force the pw change.  Then it falls into place. 

Have I mentioned lately how much I hate needing passwords?  This is not a comment about Argos' Security, just a general statement. 
I need more Post It space.

Next I need to get bknoxp working, then I can test to see if our ARGOS set Roles are working as expected.
Problem: It works fine for bknoxf as Administator, but not for bknoxp as Designer.  What did I miss on bknoxp?

OK, as a User with Administrator permissions, Login.  Click on a Folder, Click Security.  You should see something like:

Note the Security for "Folder Name" at the top of the window.

Add the Users or Groups and give them Permissions.
You need to give Everyone View/List permission for the Root Folder, which is the Folder you will be in when you first Login.  I do not see a way to get positioned to Root without Logout/Login.

You must give permissions at each level, sub-Folder by sub-Folder.

OK, this is working! 

So, Folders should be for functional areas and Groups should be those same functional areas.  Users should be in the Groups.  bknoxf and bknoxp will be very useful.  A good suggested or, even better, a predefined mapping would be very helpful.

October 12, 2006  - Just submitted a couple of proposals for Summit 2007.  "Argos - Moving into the Community" and "Banner Argos BOF".   We'll see if we can get past the filters this year:)

Yes, I have been gone.  A week walking about Tahoe, returned to a very dead hard drive on my primary workstation PC,  and then back to an application development backlog that never goes away.  Maybe I should stay home next time and send my backlog on leave.  Or, maybe the backlog could have the hard drive failure:)

Oh, and now we have a new Argos License that will open up the newest code extensions.   I was wondering where the new stuff was hiding.

November 11, 2006 - We had this great idea about installing a backup copy of Argos on our alternate Banner application server. If the primary server goes down, we just switch to running Argos on the backup hardware. Too bad we did not follow through on that idea.

SunGard rejected my "Banner Argos BOF" session, but they approved my "Argos - Moving into the Community" session.

Here is the submission info: Program: Banner Reporting
Class Title: Argos - Moving into the Community (course ID:0000000735)
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 Access.

November 29, 2006 - Our Server is working again.  My PC is partially restored too (totally lost the Hard Drive).  Plus, my ISP changed my IP address the very day that I dared to mention to someone that my Dynamic IP had never changed.  Ugh!  Firewall issues again.  BTW, we tried no-ip with our Firewall, but it does not currently support using a DSN instead of an IP.  We can probably fix that with an upgrade, but for now we are having to change the Firewall whenever my IP changes.  (OK, you're thinking why would we be blocking access to Argos from any IP.  Good, question; we just have not made that decision yet.  And, I have lots of other, non-Argos needs for getting past the Firewall.)  

Since my PC died, the logon for MAPS and Argos was cleared completely.  Back to ID/Password/Server.  This time I used the name of our Server instead of the IP.  First thing to remember is that this is the MAP Server, not your Banner Database Server.

Oops!  Wrong Server.

Now we are getting somewhere.  (I hate passwords . . . OK, I have it now.  Our MAPS works again!)

Same routine for Argos.  Then, all my old Argos reappears as it was.  What a great relief to see my info again!

Now, I had already Updated Argos after 2.5 was available, but I had not installed the new mapslicense file that would provide the newest features:

1.  OLAP Analysis.
2.  Enhanced emailing capabilities.
3.  Enhanced Scheduling and Delivery features
4.  Enhanced memory management and stability fixes for heavy usage sites.
5.  Automatic backup now built in to server.
6.  AES Encryption of all sensitive information inside the internal MAPS database (passwords, privileges, etc.)
7.  Major overhaul of the LDAP functionality.  No longer have to manually add users from the LDAP server.

If we only had LDAP, much of the security would be simpler. 

Updating the license was really simple.  I had saved the file (post crash) to my PC and browsed for the file location from the MAPS License "Read From File".   Quick and simple.  More Argos to explore!

OK, my Banner pw expired yesterday and I changed it in Banner.  Let’s try the old pw since Argos “knew” it.   (Recall that I am using Banner id/passwords with Argos and it should not get past this step whenever the Banner password has expired.)


Now, expect Banner to protest when I run anything!  (Because we just logged on to Argos using the Old Banner Password!)


I may be getting this; it does make a lot of sense nowJ
Yes, now it works with the correct Banner password! 

Executing the Employee Salary (Statistics) Report worked great!

Then, I get nothing useful from the QuickView of Salary Info??  OK, it does not really have a QuickView.

When I expanded the window, there was a + before the Salary Info DataBlock.  Clicking the + shows the Report.  And, that report works too! 

Multiple changes are always difficult, but hardware failure on the Server, hardware failure on the client PC, IP/Firewall changes, and Banner Password expiration all at the same time! 

December 22, 2006  -  The new training materials from Evisions' Argos website are very good and cover version 2.5 topics such as OLAP and even using Argos to make Oracle Table updates (very carefully, of course).

December 26, 2006  -  Copyright 2006 J. Wilson Spence, Santa  It has been a very long holiday.  Holidays should be for resting, not working extra long hours.

January 4, 2007  -  Will Evisions will have a Summit 2007 Argos Pre-Conference March 18th?  Yes, but details are pending.

January 29, 2007 - Summit presentation draft is due soon.

February 5, 2007 - Finally done with the presentation preparation.  One byproduct is an SQL*Plus script to help convert from MS Access.
table_to_argos.sql creates a SQL Query that can be used in Argos or can be used to help specify the selection criteria for your Argos Query Design.  (OK, it is a warmed over table_to_query.sql, but this one concatenates the output and is useful for creating a single document for the most useful Tables.

February 7, 2007 - Ha, finally I have some code to help convert the MS Access SQL to Oracle SQL (Argos SQL, if you like).  This one is UNIX, tested on AIX.  access_to_argos.shl
It includes conversions for the most common MS Access Functions plus some hints on a few that need more complex code to convert.

Automated Conversion includes:

removes all [
removes all  ]
changes Double Quotes to Single Quotes
Inserts the CR, Carriage Returns or Newlines.  This is just to help visually format the code.  It makes the code more readable, IMO.
   Iff            insert CR in front of IIf
   FROM              CR after FROM
   WHERE           CR after WHERE
   HAVING            CR after HAVING

   Chr(        to      CHAR(
   Len(                  LENGTH(
   Now()               SYSDATE
   Nz(                   NVL(
   UCase(            UPPER(
   LCase(             LOWER(

and since  I use Upper Case for Oracle Keywords:
   Abs(       to       ABS(
   LTrim(              LTRIM(
   RTrim(             RTRIM(
   Trim(                TRIM(
   Round(             ROUND(

The following are too complex for sed and tr to convert, but here are some hints on making the changes:
   Left(AnyString, n) SUBSTR(AnyString,1,n)
   Right(AnyString, n) SUBSTR(AnyString,LENGTH(AnyString)-n+1,n)
   IIf Can be replace with CASE or DECODE (use CASE if any IIf ... Between ... used)

Warning: One must be careful that the input contains no Lower Case Selection Criteria, because the output is UPPER Case.

You open the MS Access Query in Design Mode.  Select View, then SQL View.  Copy the code and create a text file.  Then input it to the shell script.

February 9, 2007 - Setting up MAPS for email requires knowing the SMTP Relay Server IP Address.  Your mail server SysAdm is the keeper.
Wrote a SQL*Plus script to create a CSV Import File for creating MAPS Users:
maps_users.sql (scripts must be password protected if using Banner Tables.  bknox @t
To use this, one must have the Users already assigned to the Argos Security Class Object.  Which is a reasonable expectation, I think.

Description is always Finance, that is easily changed.  (Determining Department assignments can be a difficult Banner issue.)
The password for the Users' first logon to MAPS will be their Banner UserID + the last four digits of their SSN
Be sure to check mark the "User must password change at next login" when Importing the file so that the User can sync their Banner and MAPS password.  (Relates to using "Argos and Banner Security" option.)

March 14, 2007 - Having decided that our conversion to Argos from MS Access will require a number of Oracle Views, I have modified an old SQL*Plus script to help create the required "CREATE OR REPLACE VIEW" code to accomplish this task.  table_to_v_view.sql is the script.

The previous script was table_to_view.sql and it used the SunGard convention for user created Tables and Views where the second character of the name is a 'Z'.  I considered using this with the Views needed for Argos, but I think it is just too confusing.  The object is to make our Ad Hoc Reporting as simple as possible for the End-User.  First priority is to not obscure the Banner System object names.

It is hard enough for the End-Users to know which Tables are needed since the Form names that the Users know are nearly always slightly different than the most significant Table used in the Form.  So, my names will at least group the Current Record Views with the Table (or Banner View) names underlying the Views.  Oh, back to the _v, my View names will be TableName_V.

By keeping the original Table name in the View name, the objects can be grouped within Argos.  I thought seriously about grouping them by an owner 'Argos', but that would be more difficult to use and require changing some of our previous standards too (best left alone:).

I am not very happy with just _V.  It tells me nothing without looking into the code, or worse, into the Documentation.
Maybe _Current_Record_View (too long) or _CRV would have been better.  (I may decide to go that way after Summit.  Thought for a flash about _VC, but I don't think so.)  Maybe I can get a better suggestion from my Argos sessions at Summit.

Note that table_to_v_view is not intended to generate perfect code.  The output will always require some changes to make it work correctly.
The idea is to do most of the work, not all of it.  Still, it should be a great help for the conversions.

April 4, 2007 - I am preparing some instructional materials for our users based upon the Argos Recorded Training.  These Argos Team recorded sessions are fast paced and are well done. 

Now, that is a much more positive statement than one might read into it.  I have a very long history of reviewing recorded training material dating from early VCR Taped sessions with coordinated books and tests.  My first video training experiences were very disappointing; I hated every second of them.  But, I must say that video training is finally getting to be very useful.

These Argos recordings are really pretty good.  In fact, I have only seen one example that bests these Argos recordings.  What could be better?  See Brad Dennis' Oracle Instant Client which were also done using Camtasia Studio.  Brad's Camtasia Studio recordings have a Clickable Table of Contents which allows the video to be used as a quick lookup reference.  This allows you to review just the part of the session you need to review.  Who is Brad Dennis?  He is one of my BannerAccess friends, a consultant, and a frequent contributor to the BannerAccess Listserv.  I think he gives clinics on using Camtasia as well as technical training (Of course, this is not an Extension endorsement.  We do not make endorsements.  See Disclaimer below.)

My Instructional Materials?  Just a HowTo, or maybe a WhichTo to tell someone which Argos materials to review for a given user type.  e.g., Argos Designer Technical Training. ...

April 16, 2007 - When we installed MAPS on our server we used the defaults for the the Install.  Well, the defaults put the software on the C: Drive which is typically a fairly small drive on a server that is intended to hold the Operating System and little more.

When we tried to do a major MS update, the update failed due to too little space to complete the task.  So, we are moving MAPS this week.
Why is that a big deal?  It isn't.  But, I do the MAPS Admin over the Internet.  Some Windows Server tasks are not conducive to being done away from the Server. 

When you Uninstall the Evisions MAPS Service using the Control Panel's "Add or Remove Programs", it really just uninstalls the Service.  The Folders in the default locations are left intact (no, I would never count on that being the case:). 

When you run the Install, MAPS_setup.exe, you should select the Custom Install.  Everything is defaulted properly except that the location of the install.  Just changing the drive letter should do it and while it is not required, keeping the "extra" Folders should help one relate to a default install. 

So, what could be the space problem?  Well, our MAPS database is up to 250MB.  The 5 Automatic Backups turn that into enough space to be an issue for the SysAdmin.  Personally, I like the auto-backup concept.  I would even keep more copies.  For BannerAccess I kept 10, but these were not daily backups.  Five should be enough to span most holiday weekends and give recovery from a disaster some space.

The move is scheduled for the 19th.

In the meantime, I have been preparing my Argos presentation for ABUG, the Arkansas Banner User Group conference.  This year the conference will be held at ASU, Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.  I have added some more information about the Argos Recorded Training to the presentation I gave for Summit.  The Recorded Training is a great option for someone with personal scheduling issues.  The sessions only lack a Clickable Table of Contents to be truly useful as a reference too.  One can watch these on-line or download a zipped version.

For our users, I am setting up a web pages for Designers and for End-Users with some cut-to-the-chase links to the appropriate Training Sessions.  This should be especially helpful for the End-Users, since these Training sessions are listed Admin, Designer, then End-User.   End-Users, start at the end.

April 19, 2007  -  Moving MAPS/Argos was very simple.  It took less than an hour start to finish which might have been faster if it wasn't at 7 am after a two hour commute. 

Booting a Windows Server is a much slower process than you might expect from current Desktop speeds.  When done, we moved our 1.5 GB MAPS/Argos and quadrupled our C: Drive free space.  The MS Updates were successful and all is well again.

Save yourself some trouble by installing MAPS/Argos on an Application Drive instead of the C: Drive.


1. Login to Argos (on the Server the address will http://localhost:port where port is the same port you use for your remote Login) , Go to Support via the Menu button, Download the Install software, Log out of Argos.

2. Stop the Evisions MAPS Service (Control Panel>Administrative Tools>Services… or just Run>services.msc),

3. Copy the mapsvcdata.mdb to a safe place or two. 
(Some sites may have modified service\http_files as well.  If so, copy them too.)
(Also note that you have five backup copies of the .mdb file, one for each of the last five days.  I saved them all.)

4. Uninstall the MAPS software via the Control Panel>Add or Remove Programs

5. Run the Install software downloaded in 1. above

6. re-Boot the Windows Server  (the really slow part)

7. Stop the MAPS Service, copy the saved (step 3. above) .mdb to /Service

8. Start MAPS

9. Check for Updates, apply the updates, Exit your Browser which will allow any new client to download for your next Login
(repeat step 9 until no updates are available).

April 24, 2007  -  I thought that I would install the ADO Connection to the MAPS database file so that I could use some of the new DataBlocks for managing MAPS.  Recall that I am many miles from the server; somewhere in the connection setting this does not work when the database file cannot be seen by the box running your browser.  (With my current security restrictions, I am not able to Map a Drive to a Network Folder.  You may not have this restriction.)

The short version is that I crashed the MAPS Service as it re-Started the next morning after the Automatic Backups.  It hung and could not even be Stopped on the Server, so we Ended the MAPS Service Task manually.  The great thing is that this all self-cleared once the Service was Started again.

This was happening on the day after I attempted/cancelled the new ADO Connection setup and fortunately, I happened to be on-site with the Server.  On-site, there is no problem setting up the ADO Connection to the MAPS database file.  And once it is working, there is no problem using it off-site.

Wow!  Nice new (and free) tools to help keep track of Users, Security, . . . for the MAPS/Argos Administrator.  You have to love getting system enhancements that are given to existing users without requiring them to purchase something new.

April 26, 2007  -  Argos is a web based application and we are currently preparing to switch our Internet provider.  The MAPS/Argos part of this is fairly simple as long as you can get into the server.  In the MAPS Config Login, Edit the Server(s), change the IP Address.

But, the non-Argos Network changes are far more complex.

One might think that changing IP Address would be a simple task, but it is not.  This change will require us to change all of our IP Addresses.  Nearly every user in our geographically distributed organization has at least one application that includes a fixed IP address. 

While most of the changes will be made by our SysAdmins and Technical Support Staff, this change affects everyone in our organization.

Networks are amazingly complex today.  To change to a different provider and increase our bandwidth, we are installing new physical connections to our central offices and replacing our switches and firewall.  Our several websites, including this one, should be simple to change.  Once the new physical network gear is in place and the DNS, Domain Name System (Server), host is notified (i.e., we change the IPs that are registered), then the websites should magically reappear 2-24 hours later as the new IPs are propagated through the Internet's DNS.

Why aren't all of our connections done using the soft DNS address resolution?  Well, think of it as a complex multivariable problem to solve.  Reducing the number of variables by Fixing one of them is a standard way of simplifying complex problems so that a solution can be found.  And, using hard IP Addresses is more dependable in day to day operation.  But, you pay a price for this when the IPs must be changed.

Oracle Client software and  MS Access connected to Banner all depend upon IP Addresses that are stored in a text file, tnsnames.ora.  You might have this file stored on a server or it might be on your PC.  In our case, we have some of both which turns the difficult part of that into determining each specific user's file location.  It would have been simpler if these were all done the same way that MAPS/Argos is done. 

April 30, 2007  -  Off to ABUG tomorrow.  I will present a variation of my Summit presentation with expanded Training info.

May 2, 2007  -  Just back from ABUG.  I gave my Argos Presentation and a Reporting BOF (as a substitute).

We do not have ODS or EDW, but I am getting questions about using Argos with these products.  More specifically, some prospective clients of the of these data warehouse products are apparently getting the impression that Congos is required to use ODS and EDW.  Not so.

Cognos is NOT central to the functioning of SunGardHE's ODS and EDW.  Clients may use the data warehouse products with their existing reporting tool, or they may choose Argos.  Cognos is not required.

ODS and EDW are getting new, less Techno, names.

May 18th 2007  -  Wow!  Changing the Internet provider for an organization is really a big deal.  It is finally done!  Lots of IP changes, but the hard part is actually the waiting for the Internet to recognize the new addresses.  Changes to mail seem to take much longer than other components and that is very disruptive to the functioning of an organization.  I had anticipated that our Internet connection would be available before the mail.  So, I set up a backup communications plan via gmail with someone at the central offices and it really helped.

Now we have much faster connections and the improvement is very obvious to someone working remotely from our servers.

Next week the entire phone system is being replaced overnight.  And, then I am supposed to get an IP Phone.  Ugh, they are pulling me back into the Office, bit by bit.  Next thing you know they will want me to use video conferencing. 

Well, I have been working on rolling out Argos.  I skirted a few rules on Logo use and created a transparent version from our standard logo.  The standard white background logo just looked odd on the Argos DataBlocks.  No, I didn't break the Logo rules; this is an internal use only.

I do a lot of manipulation of Screen Setting and Font Sizes to make using Laptop and large Monitors easier to read.  For Argos, you need to be using the default 96 DPI Display setting for the text to be rendered properly.  I am also using the Banner standard of 1024 by 768 pixels for the Screen resolution when building DataBlocks so that I will know what will be most usable by other users.  I don't want the users to need to pan off-screen to view anything.

Many of the great DataBlocks from the Argos COOP site have a Chart of Accounts selection.  I am changing the settings to Auto Select these since we only have a single COA.  If you contribute DataBlocks to the COOP, be sure to include your identity in the DataBlock Notes. 

Thanks to everyone that has shared a DataBlock!

June 8th 2007  -  Had a strange error with a DataBlock being Locked that would not clear.  I had been working on the DataBlock while experiencing some really bad network problems.  I lost the connection and when I reconnected, the DataBlock refused to allow me to use it, cut-n-paste it, delete it, ...   I could copy the DataBlock to get use of the code, but that was not exactly what I wanted.

Stopping the MAPS Service and even having the Banner database bounced that was involved did nothing to help.  (Our DBA could find nothing open on that Database for this Argos connection.)  The only solution was to reboot the Server that hosted MAPS/Argos.

Well, I am ready to move on.  Argos 3.0 Alpha is nearing Beta.  I hope to be an early tester.  I know there are lots of improvements and enhancements coming with this new version.  Many of them were shared at the Argos Pre-Summit.  I can't wait!

June 12th 2007  -  Banded Report Tool Tip from Robert (Rob) Hagmaier: There is a much easier way to multi-select fields.
Instead of holding down Shift, then clicking on each field individually to multi-select fields,
Just hold down CTRL and draw a box around the fields you want to select them all.

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