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New Options For Your Advantage Updates

As part of the change to the Microsoft .NET framework (at 2012r2), we’ve updated the configuration and deployment of software changes to be more in line with industry standards. Source code to the base software is no longer stored onsite and software updates are now delivered via “deployment packages.” Source code for custom processes, reports, and views will continue to be stored and compiled at client sites.

You now have two options for base tracks software updates. In addition to these base tracks, keeping in the tradition of the customizable nature of an Advantage installation, clients will have the option of maintaining a private track that will be customized to their needs. The two base update tracks are:

  • Maintenance Only: This track will offer deployment packages that only include bug fixes and basic maintenance items.
  • Maintenance and Features: This track will offer deployment packages that include bug fixes, basic maintenance items, and small retrofitted features. When these small retrofitted features are available, they will be incorporated into the track once monthly.

You will find the deployment packages for both these tracks on the ACS website. They can then be downloaded and applied to an Advantage installation by using the CDS260 process. Deployment packages are cumulative and will deliver all updates to the point when the deployment package was created. In the case of a private track, you will be able to choose which updates you want and a custom deployment package can be created as a regularly billed task.

The custom source code previously stored onsite in Advantage\local\custom will continue to be stored onsite and will be part of an extensibility solution maintained in Visual Studio. This will allow clients choosing this option to develop and maintain code for custom reports and program extensions, if needed.

Advantage software updates are undergoing continual quality assurance efforts, with over 5,000 QA hours invested each year. As always, all software modifications are tested, along with several hundred hours of end-to-end testing with each software release. Daily automated testing has also been maintained on past releases to ensure updates have minimal impact.

With the introduction of updates via deployment packages, ACS is also now performing additional daily basic QA of one deployment package per day per release. This basic QA includes a series of manual transactions, reviewing each Advantage view, and the upload and posting of a variety of orders. When viewing available updates on the ACS website, those updates that have undergone this additional basic QA will be marked with a green download icon. When possible, these would be the preferred updates to download. Updates marked with an orange download icon have undergone automated stability testing, but have not had the manual portion performed.

Installing Deployment Packages

Advantage deployment packages are installed automatically by the CDS260 process, based on the package selected at process run time. When you click the arrow, available packages will be listed. Packages are numbered sequentially, with the highest numbered package being the latest. Since deployment packages are cumulative, the latest package will include all the updates of previous packages.

Most deployment packages will contain only program updates, with no effect on database table structure. However, especially when on the maintenance and features track, updates will occasionally contain updates to database table structures. When only program updates are included, users can remain in the system during the update and will begin using the updated version of the software when they next open an Advantage session. When database updates are included, users will need to be out of the system during the update. Accordingly, there are three modes in which CDS260 can be run:

  • R Mode: Report only mode. No code updates are performed.
  • S Mode: Run when there are only code updates. If CDS260 is run in ‘S’ mode and there are database updates, CDS260 will end in error without making any updates. CDS260 can then be requested again in ‘F’ mode after users have exited the system.
  • F Mode: Use when there are database updates included in the package. Users should be out of Advantage when running with this mode. This mode also brings down the Advantage services while the update is running.

You can determine the updates included in a particular package by checking on the Advantage support website. A brief description of each update is provided, along with the build number (corresponding to the package number) in which the update is first included.

If you have any questions about this new approach, please contact your Account Manager.

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