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.
*Some images are broken on this page for non-IE browsers*
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.)
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.
Arkansas Banner User Group
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).
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:
http://betwinx.com/BannerScripts.htm 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 uaex.edu 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
Some interesting answers and ideas from the Summits as soon as I
- - -
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 uaex.edu
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
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
How to handle problems with using LDAP server
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
See you at Pre-Summit and Summit! I need more participants for the
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.
21-March 3:00 PM 4:00 PM 1018 Argos--Training, Development,
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
Argos Resources site:
A. You will need YourSchoolName.mapslicense,
after you download the Argos software
B. Install MAPS using Argos Install / Admin Guide,
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
(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'
a web based Ad hoc reporting tool.
The BannerAccess site will continue to be
documented at http://betwinx.com/banneraccess.htm
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
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.
Application Platform Server
is the future for all Evisions products.
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:
Windows 2000, XP,
or 2003 (Window 2003 Server preferred)
Network connectivity (for others to launch the client)
Appropriate OLE DB driver(s) (can be
Argos support site)
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
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
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
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
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
“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
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
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
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.
Banner Seemed like a good name?
We can always change it later.
About to make a
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
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
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 =
(SERVICE_NAME = PROD))
An older Oracle version might also look like:
(ADDRESS = (PROTOCOL = TCP)(HOST =
servername_or_IP_Address)(PORT = 1521))
(CONNECT_DATA = (SID = PROD))
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
(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
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".
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.
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:
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
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.,
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!!
Aha, the system generates logs
each day of, looks like, everything it does. see:
Step 6. Use the "Argos Sample
Datablock Installation Guide" to Install Sample Datablocks
Summary: Unzip the Banner 20051222 Sample Datablocks.zip 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
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
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:
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 uaex.edu 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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.)
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
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
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
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
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
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
Have I mentioned lately how much I hate needing passwords?
This is not a comment about Argos' Security, just a general
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
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
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
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
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
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
1. OLAP Analysis.
2. Enhanced emailing capabilities.
3. Enhanced Scheduling and Delivery features
4. Enhanced memory management and stability fixes for heavy usage
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
I may be getting this; it does make a lot of
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
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 -
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
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.
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.
insert CR in front of IIf
FROM CR after FROM
WHERE CR after WHERE
HAVING CR after HAVING
Chr( to CHAR(
and since I use Upper Case for Oracle Keywords:
Abs( to ABS(
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
Wrote a SQL*Plus script to create a CSV Import File for creating
(scripts must be password protected if using Banner Tables.
bknox @t uaex.edu)
To use this, one must have the Users already assigned to the Argos
Security Class Object. Which is a reasonable expectation, I
Description is always Finance, that is easily changed.
(Determining Department assignments can be a difficult Banner
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"
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Stop the Evisions MAPS Service (Control Panel>Administrative
Tools>Services… or just Run>services.msc),
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.)
Uninstall the MAPS software via the Control Panel>Add or Remove
5. Run the Install software downloaded in 1. above
re-Boot the Windows Server (the really slow part)
Stop the MAPS Service, copy the saved (step 3. above) .mdb to
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.
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.
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
While most of the changes will be made by our SysAdmins and
Technical Support Staff, this change affects everyone in our
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.
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
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
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.
Check Back Soon! The
plan is to get this going as quickly as other work will allow.
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