Installation

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This topic is for advanced users

Documentation Overview

This is the technical documentation on the installation of the Time and Attendance software. This documentation is based on the software version 3.5 using SQL Server 2008 R2, but using SQL Server 2012, 2014 or 2016 is similar.

Topics covered are:

  • Installing and configuring the Time and Attendance software.
  • Installing and configuring the Microsoft SQL Server instance.
  • Creating the starting database.

Software Overview

Time and Attendance is a 100% Microsoft .Net software product. The minimum required version is .Net 4.6.1 and can be used with any higher version. The .Net framework needs to be installed on any computer that will use the software. Traditional installation of the software is not required as it is an xcopy application in that the software can be copied to a folder and run without any installation, component registration or registry modifications.

SQL Server

The installation of the .Net framework also installs the files required to connect to the data in Microsoft SQL Server. Time and Attendance 3.5 can use an existing instance of SQL Server, or you can install a new instance if you are not already running SQL Server. The minimum supported version of SQL Server is 2008.

Other Applications

Time and Attendance creates reports in both Adobe PDF format and in Microsoft Excel format (.xls and .xlsx). Free viewers are available for both of these file formats.

Installation

The installation of your Time and Attendance 3.5 system requires you to setup and configure your software, a Windows Service, the database, and the HandPunches. The following is a list of the required items to get the Time and Attendance 3.5 software up and running.

  1. Install the .Net 4.6.1 or higher framework on your server and on each client.
  2. Create a folder for the software on your server that all the clients can access.
  3. Create a shortcut to the main executable for each client.
  4. Install the Windows service.
  5. Install SQL Server if needed.
  6. Create a database and restore to an empty starting database.
  7. Edit the configuration file to reflect settings such as the database server name, the database name and your license key.
  8. Use the database utility to bring the database up to the version that matches the software.
  9. Start the Windows service.
  10. Start the software and configure the Configuration/Setup/System/Scheduled Tasks
  11. Start the software and configure it to your rules, add the employees etc.
  12. Install the HandPunches and test communications.
  13. Configure tasks on your server to poll and process the punches, as well as perform maintenance tasks like the backup of the data.

.Net Framework

Installation of the .Net framework version 4.6.1 or higher is required on any computer that wants to run the Time and Attendance 3.5 software. The .Net 4.6.1 framework is supported on Windows 7 SP1, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows 8, Server 2012, Windows 10 and Server 2016.

Files and Folders

Dedicated Folder

Create a folder dedicated to the Time and Attendance 3.5 software on the server. Extract / copy the files to this folder.

Permissions

The users require the ability to read and execute the application. If there is a need for the user to poll the HandPunches manually, then the ability to write to a subdirectory named punchlog will be required. This folder is created automatically the first time that a HandPunch is polled.

Top Level Folder

The top level folder is commonly named “Ta”, but you can name it as you want. This folder will contain all of the software executables:

  • Ta.WinAdmin.exe – the Windows main executable. The main entry point into the software.
  • Ta.WinAdmin.exe.config – the configuration file for Ta.WinAdmin.exe.
  • Ta.DBU.exe – The database utility to manage the database. This is primarily used for the updating of your database to the version that matches the executable. The login is Ta and the password is fixed, but is not contained in the help files for security reasons. The database utility would be run on your server and not on the client.
  • Ta.DBU.exe.config – the configuration file for Ta.DBU.exe.
  • SBV.Ta.Windows.Server.exe – the Windows Service executable that provides communications services between the clients.
  • SBV.Ta.Windows.Service.exe.config – the configuration file for SBV.Ta.Windows.Service.exe.
  • Ta.config – the configuration file that contains your application configuration such as database and license information.
  • SBV.* – the core application (DLL) components of the software that handle the business logic, time clocks, database, reporting and payroll interfaces.
  • Atalasoft.* – third party imaging components.
  • cete.* – third party components used for the creation of PDFs.
  • DevExpress.* – third party pivot grid control.
  • FarPoint.* – third party Excel style spreadsheet control.
  • Janus.* – third party Office style UI controls.
  • nsoftware.* – third party internet components. Used for FTP, NTP, HTTP, POP and SMTP.
  • PureComponents.* – third party tree view component.
  • rsidll*.dll – these are the communication DLLs to the HandPunch supplied by the HandPunch manufacturer. They are the only files that are unmanaged, because they are written in C++. However, there is no installation requirement for these files.

Install Folder

Contains a readme to links to download the .Net framework and other files that may be required to install the .Net framework. Also included are caspol.bat and installsvc.bat. The caspol.bat file provides information and samples about the security policy mechanism used by the .Net framework. Use the installsvc.bat file to install the Windows service.

Config Folder

The config files contains sample configuration files. These should be copied to the Ta folder and then the Ta.config edited as required.

Database Folder

This folder is typically named database. It is not a requirement to have the database files reside in a subdirectory of the Ta folder, but this is commonly done when the SQL Server is running on the same server as the Ta files are located. Supplied in the database folder is Ta.bak which is used as a starting database (empty of data).

Help Folder

The help folder contains the help documentation in PDF format (Ta.pdf) and the help index file (Ta.idx) which is a topic to page number index that provides context sensitive help in the software. HandPunch manuals for the different HandPunch models are also included.

Shortcut

Create a shortcut to the Ta.WinAdmin.exe application file for each of your users, naming the shortcut “Time and Attendance”.

Windows Service

The Windows service runs on your server and provides communication between the clients and the server. Since this is duplex (two-way) messaging, client to client messaging is provided with the service acting as the intermediary.

Install the service at the command line using InstallUtil provided by the .Net framework:

"C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v2.0.50727\InstallUtil.exe" "F:\Ta\SBV.Ta.Windows.Service.exe"

Refer to the installsvc.bat file in the install folder for examples.

SQL Server

The software runs on SQL Server 2008 or higher. We recommend SQL Server 2014 for new installations.

SQL Server 2014 Express with Tools

This is a free download from Microsoft and is used by clients with over 10 users and over 500 employees. There is a database size limit of 10 Gb that will eventually be reached after approximately 10 years, depending on the number of employees that you have. SQL Server Express will use only one processor and up to 1 Gb of memory. However, the software design is very efficient and does not tax the server with heavy queries. When installing, please follow these guidelines.

  • Unless you have a large amount of free space on your C drive (> 10 Gb), then we recommend that you install the SQL Server on a different drive.
  • Keep the default instance name of "SQLExpress” unless there is a reason to use another instance name.
  • The database engine and the management tools are the only 2 features required.
  • Authentication Mode – the software can connect using SQL Server Authentication or Windows Authentication. We recommend using SQL Server Authentication. If you choose "Mixed Mode”, you will need to enter a password of your choosing.

Allow Remote Connections

After SQL Server is installed, allow TCP/IP and Named Pipes connections from the client computers.

  1. Open "SQL Server Configuration Manager." (‪C:\Windows\System32\SQLServerManager??.msc)
  2. Expand the "SQL Server Network Configuration" node and select “Protocols for [Instance Name].”, e.g. “Protocols for SQLExpress.”
  3. Right click on “TCP/IP” and select Enable. Repeat this for “Named Pipes.”
  4. A message informs you that these changes do not apply until the SQL Server service is restarted.
  5. Select the "SQL Server Services" node.
  6. Right click the SQL Server ([Instance Name]) node and select Restart.

Authentication

Using Windows Authentication requires that new users of the software are added to the security group that has access to the SQL Server. We recommend the use of SQL Authentication because users are incapable of connecting to the database directly. If you choose to use Windows Authentication, then you take responsibility for your users exploiting their Windows identity to obtain access to the data through other software.

Creating the Database

Once SQL Server is configured and installed, you need to create a new database and then restore from the supplied backup file.

By convention, the database is named Ta, but you can name as you wish. Use the following database settings:

  • Version 10.0 (SQL Server 2008) – Required.
  • Auto Close – False (highly recommended). If not set to False, then the database can be backed up like a file by any backup software. However, during backup, the database files are locked and will not be able to be opened (i.e. reconnected) to SQL Server. If you choose to use Auto Close so that you can back up the mdf/ldf files, you must ensure that the software will not be used at any time during your backup process. We recommend that you use the backup task provided with the database utility to create a backup file to disk.
  • Auto Shrink – False (highly recommended). We recommend that you do not auto shrink your data or log files. and that you perform manual shrink of your files as part of your database maintenance.
  • Logging – Simple (recommended). Simple is generally considered sufficient but you may elect to use the Full recovery model if you feel that the software contains critical data that would result in catastrophe upon restoration to the last daily backup. Please note that you are completely responsible for the off disk or off site backup of your data. The software provides a mechanism for creating a zipped daily backup of your data to any location on your network. The backup is not designed to be a disaster recovery mechanism but to represent your data in a point in time. Additionally, the punch information from the HandPunches is logged to disk, and can be reprocessed by our software.

Once the database is created, restore the Ta.bak file in the database folder to create you starting database.

Database Login

The software requires a login with the login ID of Ta. This login needs the server role as a sysadmin, and the user mapping to the Ta database as db_owner. The password is fixed and is not supplied in this help file for security reasons. You will need to contact technical support for this password.

Configuration File

The Ta.config configuration file is used by the following executables; Ta.WinAdmin.exe, Ta.DBU.exe and SBV.Ta.Windows.Service.exe. The configuration file is an XML fragment that starts and ends with the appSettings node. A sample is included in the config folder.

Here is a sample Ta.config file:

<appSettings>
   <add key="databaseServerName" value="MyServer\MySqlInstance"/>
   <add key="databaseName" value="Ta"/>
   <add key="namedPipes" value="true"/>
   <add key="sharedMemoryClient" value="MyServer"/>
   <add key="duplexMessaging" value="true" />
   <add key="duplexMessagingAddress" value="MyServer:9000" />
   <add key="duplexMessagingNamedPipeClient" value="MyServer" />
   <add key="license" value="your license string goes here"/>
   <add key="offline" value="false"/>
</appSettings>

Database Settings

You need to set the database server name and the database name. Additional connection options allow you to set how the clients and the server will connect to the database. By default, the TCP/IP protocol is used for the clients, and Shared Memory is used for the server (assuming the software and SQL Server are running on the same machine). We recommend that you use Named Pipes for all clients. As the namedPipes setting will affect all computers, you should use the sharedMemoryClient setting to allow the server to connect using this protocol.

databaseServerName The database server name including the SQL instance name. The server name needs to be resolved by the client. The IP address of the server can be used as an alternate setting.
databaseName The name of the database.
namedPipes When set to true, all clients will connect to the database using Named Pipes.
sharedMemoryClient The name of the computer where SQL Server is installed is the only computer that can use shared memory.
namedPipesClients A comma separated list of computers as an alternative to the global namedPipes setting.
tcpIpClients A comma separated list of computers that will use TCP/IP to connect to the database.

Messaging

duplexMessaging

When set to true, duplex messaging between all clients is used.

duplexMessagingAddress

The name of the server and the port that the duplex messaging will use.

duplexMessagingNamedPipeClient

The name of the server that the service is running on. Connections made from the server will use the faster named pipe connection rather than TCP/IP.

Email

mailServer The address of the SMTP mail server for communication and support emails.
mailPort The port to connect to the SMTP server for communication and support emails.
mailUser The user account for communication and support emails.
mailPassword The password as an encrypted string for communication and support emails. Use the Utility provided to encrypt the password.
mailFrom The From address of the communication and support emails.
communicationErrorSendTo The address(es) that emails are sent to when there is a communication error to the HandPunch.
supportSendTo The address(es) that all non HandPunch errors are sent to. This includes the Email Support form, and the Exception Form when the user clicks Email Support.
reportsMailServer The address of the SMTP mail server for reports.
reportsMailPort The port to connect to the SMTP server for reports.
reportsMailUser The user account for reports.
reportsMailPassword The password as an encrypted string for reports. Use the Utility provided to encrypt the password.
reportsMailFrom The From address of the email for reports.

License

The license is an encrypted string that contains the name of the licensee (the company name), address, modules licensed, and the employee count.

license

The encrypted license key.

Other Settings

The offline setting stops clients from running the software, while you are performing updates.

offline

true or false.

Database Utility

After restoring the starting database from the backup, bring the database version up to the same version as the software. You login into the database utility with the Ta login and the password (which is not provided in the help documentation) and perform the Update action.

Updating the database with the database utility is supported on the server that has SQL Server installed. The database utility uses the osql utility, which is part of the installation of SQL Server 2000, 2005 and 2008. If you wish to run the database utility from a computer that does not have SQL Server installed, then you will need to get osql working correctly. However, we cannot provide support for this scenario.

All changes that have been made to the database structure are maintained in sequentially numbered scripts. These scripts are embedded into the database utility. The scripts are extracted to your Ta folder, and then executed. After performing an update, you will see numbered files like 101001.sql in the Ta folder as well as sp_udf.sql. These files can be safely deleted after a successful update.

Always create a backup before running the database utility.

Start the Windows Service

The Windows service is set to start automatically when Windows starts. You need to start it manually the first time in the Services management console.

Start the Software

Upon completion of the installation, the software can be started. As the database is empty, no login ID or password is required.

Refer to the Configuration chapter for setting up the software.

Tasks

There are tasks that need to be performed frequently and daily that are best set up to run on your server automatically, rather than be remembered to be done by users.

See also