15 Replies Latest reply on Jun 13, 2006 8:43 AM by Linux Rules

    Network vs. local instal

    Iozzi
      What is the advantage of installing RoboHelp on a network drive?

      Is it truly a network install or just a local install with the files on a network share?

      Does it allow licenses to be shared? i.e. if I have 3 licenses and 4 possible users, can any of them use it as long as no more than 3 are running the app at the same time. The organization I'm working for is more inclined to over buy licenses than under buy, but the ability to add a new user instantaneously would be useful since getting an additional license can take time.
        • 1. Re: Network vs. local instal
          Roger N Level 2
          lozzi -

          Can't really speak for Adobe, this is just a volunteer community. But, the End User License Agreement does talk about licensing;

          http://www.adobe.com/products/eula/robo/

          ...search the eula for the word 'network'....

          ....and John Daigle does have a very helpful guide on sharing a project;

          http://www.adobe.com/devnet/robohelp/articles/robosource_control_print.html

          hope these help....
          • 2. Re: Network vs. local instal
            Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional
            Are we talking about installing RH onto a server or having a RH project on a network drive?

            The first, quite apart from any licencing issues, will not work. RH has to be installed onto a local drive with the user's logon and with admin rights.

            As to having the project on a network, that is only OK if we are talking about using source control and Roger has provided a link for that.

            • 3. Re: Network vs. local instal
              Iozzi Level 1
              I was referring to page 10 in the RoboHelp Office installation guide:

              "Network installation tips
              You may place the RoboHelp Office folder on either a local drive or a network
              drive. If you place the folder on a network drive, you must have write
              privileges. If you are unsure about any of the options, ask your system
              administrator to help you with installing RoboHelp Office."

              It's a vauge reference to the fact that it might be able to be installed on a network drive, but doesn't say anything about why you would or would not want to do so. I'm an MCSE so I understand the underlying system/network issues. The documentation and the EULA seem to contradict each other.

              You can have a project saved anywhere you want as long as you have the appropriate network/system permissions. You may have to map the drive instead of using a UNC path, haven't tested it with a UNC path.

              I just wonder why they would bother to discuss "Network Installation" if they don't want you to do a network installation.
              • 4. Re: Network vs. local instal
                Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional
                Don't believe all that you read! I don't have a copy of the Guide to hand but I do know RH has to be installed to the user's hard disk, whatever any document may say. There's a whole topic on my site about installing RoboHelp.

                In theory you can have your project on a network drive. In practice this forum is littered with posts from people who have run into problems that are cured by moving the project from the network to their hard disk. Often others will pop up saying their project runs just fine on a network. Sometimes they later post a problem and guess what...

                Underpinning RH is an Access database so I probably don't need to say much more about why having projects on a network is an issue.

                It's a different ball game if the project is on a network drive under source control. What happens there is the required files are pulled off to the hard disk.

                • 5. Re: Network vs. local instal
                  Iozzi Level 1
                  Thanks for your help guys.

                  We decided that the only benifit from installing it on a network drive (a true network install won't work) is an insignificant saving of local drive space. We use Visual Source Safe for everything else so we'll use that to share projects. I keep most code on a mapped network share that other developers don't have access to, so that should be fine for projects. It sounds like the issues people have with storing projects on a network drive are probably related to the fact that Access is not good as a multi-user DB. Fortunatly (what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.) I have experience supporting multi-user Access databases. If one, and only one, user used it you should have no more problems using a mapped drive than you would have using any other folder.
                  • 6. Re: Network vs. local instal
                    Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional
                    The problems do arise even where it is one person running a project on a network so good luck. I'm guessing you have good backup routines in place.

                    • 7. Re: Network vs. local instal
                      Wurzer
                      quote:

                      Originally posted by: Peter Grainge
                      Are we talking about installing RH onto a server or having a RH project on a network drive?

                      The first, quite apart from any licencing issues, will not work. RH has to be installed onto a local drive with the user's logon and with admin rights.


                      Do you mean:

                      1) It won't install.
                      2) It will install, but it won't work properly.
                      3) We don't really know what will happen, but it's unsupported.

                      I assume that you mean points 2 or 3, since we have RH installed on our Terminal Server.
                      • 8. Re: Network vs. local instal
                        HKabaker Level 2
                        Wurzer,

                        Yes, you can install RH on a network drive. In other words, the RH Office folder can reside on the network. I'm not sure what the advantage is, compared with installing it on a hard drive. You might be able to get away with it if you don't run afoul of operating system user privilege limits. But we often hear of failures in generating printed documentation, importing Word documents into RH and other strange behaviors that clear up when -- as Peter says -- RH is installed on the local hard drive under the RH user's login with administrator privileges on the PC. You can take the admin priivilege away after the installation, but RH will not work right for a different user login.

                        The real trouble happens when the project folder is on a network drive.

                        Again, indeed, you can save the project to a network drive. But when you try to open it from your local PC and start working on it, you may see some things not getting updated properly, settings getting lost, disruptions in project housekeeping, and other hiccups.

                        Aside from user privileges, I think the culprit here is the variable nature of network performance under differing conditions of traffic load. If you're the only one working on the network and you get instant communication back and forth, I'll bet RH will work OK. I can't prove this, of course, because I can't predict or control network response time. But I'm pretty certain that, as more and more layers of security and validity checking are insinuated into network communications, the built-in waiting times and automatic repeat requests for data can get confused.

                        If an expert on network communications wants to get involved here, I'd be very happy to defer on these points.

                        Some say you can store a project on a network if you use version control that requires you to check out (i.e., download to your hard drive) the files you want to work on and to replace network-stored files by checking new ones in. I haven't tried this.

                        Harvey
                        • 9. Re: Network vs. local instal
                          Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional
                          Harvey

                          I'm reviving this as I am a bit concerned about leaving a thread that suggests you can install RH on a network drive.

                          Quite apart from the technical issues, I believe it is contrary to the licence. Anyone considering this might like to check that out.

                          On the technical front, remember that RH has to be installed using the user's login with admin privileges if it is going to work properly. You can use an IT person's login on your hard disk and RH will install with one minor problem, it won't work properly. The same issues arise if you install on a network. Yes it can be done but RH will not work properly so it is a pretty pointless exercise. I believe that some way back this was confirmed on these forums by a RH employee.

                          Projects that are under source control can be stored on a network. What happens there is that RH pulls back to the hard disk the files required by the author, so what you are working on is on your hard disk.

                          • 10. Re: Network vs. local instal
                            Iozzi Level 1
                            You can, under license, install it to a network drive. You cannot, under license have a network install.

                            What that means is that you can install RH on your local machine and during the installation you specify a drive letter that happens to be mapped to a network share. That would be installing it to a network drive.

                            However you cannot use that installation on more than one machine. That would be a network installation. Yes you must have the appropriate permissions on that share and on your local machine for RH, or any other application, to function properly. If you specify a drive letter that is mapped to a local share (e.g. c:\) the that still applies.

                            Where the confusion came from that started this thread is the paragraph in the installation guide titled "Network installation tips". The title itself implies that a network installation is possible and has some benefits. The title and the paragraph need to be rewritten.

                            There is no logical reason that storing you projects on a drive that is a network share should be a problem. Any file share that the user has appropriate access rights to will function the same. I have an extensive background in this area as a developer, network/systems administrator, support technician and support technician trainer. The key is that you must have the appropriate rights to you computer and the share that RH is installed to.

                            People keep talking as if RH has some bug that prevents it from using files that are on a network drive. I would love to see actual proof of this. No, the scenario "I moved it to a local drive and it worked." is not proof. How was the network drive mapped? What permissions did the user have to the network drive? If you replicate the same mapping and permissions for the local drive you will have the same problem. I've seen the same issues with other applications, every time it comes down to the mapping being wrong (let me know if you want to know how to reproduce this on a local drive), or inadequate permissions.
                            • 11. Network vs. local instal
                              Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional
                              Lozzi

                              Thanks for coming back on this, particularly given your network knowledge. Yes I would like to raise a couple of points.

                              1] RH Bug

                              I don't think anyone has said it is a bug in RH, certainly I have not. My understanding is that these problems arise from the fact that RH has an Access database underpinning its working and, by all accounts, Access does not always work well across a network. The latter is what I have been told by numerous people who should have the relevant knowledge. I know one company that I worked for had a product that relied on an Access database and I know it worked OK on some intallations and disastrously on others. Couple that with postings on this forum from Adobe employees saying RH should be installed to the hard disk and you will understand where it becomes normal to suggest moving a project to the hard disk. In many cases it does fix the problem. The correct procedure in your eyes, I guess, would be to fix all the network problems so that Access ran sweetly on it. What would you rate the chances of many technical authors getting that done by their IT people? Hence we don't suggest it.

                              quote:

                              People keep talking as if RH has some bug that prevents it from using files that are on a network drive. I would love to see actual proof of this. No, the scenario "I moved it to a local drive and it worked." is not proof.

                              Hopefully you will agree that what we are saying is not that RH has a bug, it's more about the Access database and the fact that problems arise and are fixed by moving the project. No it's not proof of anything but a doctor might prescribe something without proof of why it cures an illness accepting merely that it does and has no adverse side effects, especially if the alternative is death or something close.

                              Nobody is categorically blaming either RH or Access. We are merely stating the solution.

                              2] Are you saying that if my hard disk has partitions C and D where D is available to others as a share, I can install it to D?
                              OR
                              Are you saying that if I have a mapping to say E which is on another PC, I can install it there?
                              OR
                              Are you say that both would work?
                              (I am assuming here that this is on a network that does not cause any problems. Some people have posted that they have no such problems. Some of them continue that way. Others eventually hit a problem. Others plain cannot get it to work.)

                              If anything reads like I am challenging what you say, I am not. Merely trying to get a better understanding.

                              • 12. Re: Network vs. local instal
                                Iozzi Level 1
                                quote:

                                Originally posted by: Peter Grainge
                                Lozzi

                                Thanks for coming back on this, particularly given your network knowledge. Yes I would like to raise a couple of points.

                                1] RH Bug

                                I don't think anyone has said it is a bug in RH, certainly I have not. My understanding is that these problems arise from the fact that RH has an Access database underpinning its working and, by all accounts, Access does not always work well across a network. The latter is what I have been told by numerous people who should have the relevant knowledge. I know one company that I worked for had a product that relied on an Access database and I know it worked OK on some intallations and disastrously on others. Couple that with postings on this forum from Adobe employees saying RH should be installed to the hard disk and you will understand where it becomes normal to suggest moving a project to the hard disk. In many cases it does fix the problem. The correct procedure in your eyes, I guess, would be to fix all the network problems so that Access ran sweetly on it. What would you rate the chances of many technical authors getting that done by their IT people? Hence we don't suggest it.


                                Since my job descriptions have always included something other than technical author I tend to see this differently. It might be nice if the documentation for RH told the IT people it uses an access db. Assuming IT people install it in most instances, that would let them make a more informed choice based on thier knowledge of the state of thier network and policies. In the cases where the IT people don't instal it, it would give the technical author something to give to the IT person if there is an issue.

                                In situations where there is not much cooperation between IT and technical authors, there will be issues in general.


                                quote:


                                Hopefully you will agree that what we are saying is not that RH has a bug, it's more about the Access database and the fact that problems arise and are fixed by moving the project. No it's not proof of anything but a doctor might prescribe something without proof of why it cures an illness accepting merely that it does and has no adverse side effects, especially if the alternative is death or something close.

                                Nobody is categorically blaming either RH or Access. We are merely stating the solution.



                                I agree. However the implication is there. I felt it was worth directly pointing out that it is not a bug in RH. As far as Access is concerned, it's a design limitation more than anything. Networking is not one of Access' strong points.

                                quote:


                                2] Are you saying that if my hard disk has partitions C and D where D is available to others as a share, I can install it to D?
                                OR
                                Are you saying that if I have a mapping to say E which is on another PC, I can install it there?
                                OR
                                Are you say that both would work?
                                (I am assuming here that this is on a network that does not cause any problems. Some people have posted that they have no such problems. Some of them continue that way. Others eventually hit a problem. Others plain cannot get it to work.)



                                Both will work.
                                quote:


                                If anything reads like I am challenging what you say, I am not. Merely trying to get a better understanding.



                                No offense taken.
                                We do seem to agree that the user must have appropriate permissions on the local machine and on the drive it's installed on. If the drive is networked it should be a stable connection, with appropriate permissions.

                                You also wouldn't want to install it on a local drive that's unstable; the same should apply to a network drive.

                                The documentation says you need "write" permissions. I would argue that you will also need "modify" and "read". That gives the technical writer the ability to create edit and read those files, but does not give them the ability to change the permissions for the share. If you simply have "write" permissions, you will not be able to modify a file. That would be silly. I can't even imagine why you wouldn't grant read access to a the person authoring the files. Try giving the user "write" permissions only to thier "My Documents" folder and it's subdirectories. That'll break most applications that save files there.

                                Maybe what's needed is an admin's guide. It would need to be concise and only deal with admin issues.
                                • 13. Re: Network vs. local instal
                                  Linux Rules Level 2
                                  Hello Lozzi -

                                  You posted:
                                  "Maybe what's needed is an admin's guide. It would need to be concise and only deal with admin issues. "

                                  The first paragraph should boldly state:

                                  THIS PROGRAM WRITES DIRECTLY TO THE MASTER BOOT RECORD OF YOUR HARD DRIVE - DON'T MESS WITH IT.

                                  Regards,
                                  gewb
                                  • 14. Re: Network vs. local instal
                                    Iozzi Level 1
                                    quote:

                                    Originally posted by: Linux Rules

                                    THIS PROGRAM WRITES DIRECTLY TO THE MASTER BOOT RECORD OF YOUR HARD DRIVE - DON'T MESS WITH IT.

                                    Regards,
                                    gewb


                                    Which section of the MBR does it write to and what data does it write there?
                                    • 15. Re: Network vs. local instal
                                      Linux Rules Level 2
                                      Hello Lozzi -

                                      It writes the license info that the app checks to see if it is legal. This is written during the authorization stage of the installation (either on line or phone call). This is why a "typical" backup and restore to a new drive results in RH saying it hasn't been registered - need to restore from a program that also copies the MBR info. Can't tell you how many times over the years I have had to call for a new authorization because of this issue (I play with hardware a lot).

                                      I don't remember which block number it writes to in the MBR of the Windows C: drive but if you have it loaded on a workstation you can use a utility to view what is in the MBR (can't do it now - this workstation doesn't belong to me).

                                      Regards,
                                      gewb