Thursday 24 December 2020

Networking - using the Pricing Program on 2 (or more) computers

Everyone is different. Many framers just need their pricing system on one computer, but others perhaps have a large shop, or a separate workshop, or even more than one premises. All of these scenarios (and I'm sure there are many others) need the pricing and job information system on more than one computer.

It doesn't cost you any more to put Wessex Professional on all your devices (you just need an enabling code for each one from Wessex). But merely installing the program on each device will mean that they will each use their own (internal) database. Ideally we need the group of programs to use the same database, and of course, we can configure Wessex Professional to do just that.

Before we continue I need to point out that this solution is only suitable for a small scale system. Larger systems with many database transactions per second would need the database held on a server which would handle the transaction requests.

So, down to the nitty-gritty. 

  • Having installed the program on our devices we need to put the database file that we want to use ("V3.mdb") somewhere that all the devices can "see". If you have created your own private network it could be in a folder somewhere on that (Look at the Networking section in the "Help" file, press "F1"). 
  • The easiest way, however, is to use a cloud storage location such as "Dropbox" or "OneDrive". Make a folder there and copy your database file into it.
  • In the program go to "Setup" . "Options" and select the "NetWk/BkUp" tab.

  • At the top tick "Use networked database", and  then click the box below that to bring up a dialog to select the location of the database you are going to use.

  • Select the file (click "Open") and the network box should look something like this - 

  • Remember to click "Save".
  • Repeat this for each computer.
Now all the devices will use the same database. (For instance, if the workshop marks a job as "Complete" then the shop can immediately see that.)

The database file contains all the information for Customers, Mouldings and WorkTickets. There is one other file that contains information for prices and labels ("User.xml"), this is not networked and needs to be put on each device individually ("Setup" > "Values" and then click "Export" or "Import").

So, why not be able to network this file as well?
Two reasons
  1. The file is only modified occasionally, unlike the  database file. So it's not too much of a chore to copy it to each device when it's changed.
  2. It could be that you need the device to issue different prices. For instance one device issues trade prices, while another issues retail. Or one branch of the business only deals with simple jobs, while another deals with more complex framing.
NB. One point to remember is that you will need to make sure that the database file is regularly backed up, as the program's automatic backup feature does not work with a networked database.

All in all setting up Wessex Professional to use a network is not too difficult to do, but I suggest you choose a quiet time (a lockdown project?)

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