05 Dec HELLO! 2016 CALLED…. TIME TO UPDATE YOUR ANYSITE DATA (IT’LL ONLY HURT FOR A SECOND)
We all know that in business, change is not only inevitable, but also necessary to remain competitive, relevant and profitable. What we sometimes forget to recognize is that often the outcome of change is worth any pain that may come with it.
All of us who work with demographic data know first-hand that change is a fundamental characteristic of data. And if you think about it, if demographic data didn’t change, that would mean that we wouldn’t be getting birthday presents, pay raises or having kids. I thought that for this blog installment I’d offer a few suggestions that come from my many years of experience updating AnySite for both myself and other AnySite users.
Before You Begin
Your inherent need to have the “latest and greatest” may compel you to install new AnySite data as soon as it’s available. However, I would suggest that you ask yourself a few questions before you start any new data update:
- Are you currently in a project where reports representing 2 different data vintages would create inconsistencies or confusion?
- Is AnySite installed in a non-standard way?
- How much time do you have to complete the update?
- How much coordination with other users is involved?
Current project considerations. If you’re involved with an ongoing project, updating demographic data may be troublesome. While many data purists will say “of course we want to have the most current data,” introducing new demographic data mid-project tends to introduce inconsistencies, confusion, uncertainty, and worst of all mistrust of the data itself. Unless you have time to rerun all reports, and maps to reflect the new data, it is best to consider waiting till the project is over before moving on to update.
Non-Standard AnySite install. AnySite’s inherent flexibility allows for a significant amount of variability in how the software is installed, and “outside the box” installations are quite common. If you suspect that your AnySite install is one of these types of installs I would suggest that you give us a call and let us complete a quick review of your AnySite implementation.
Time to dedicate to install. An AnySite update is not like a Microsoft Word update. The installation wizard brings together many different components that make AnySite work effectively. When you get ready to update, you need to make sure that you have set aside plenty of time to not only install the software, but also test, adjust, and retest. We’ve made improvements to the installation so that the installation will be as quick and painless as possible. However, it’s just good software installation practice to make sure you have time to test the end result.
Working with other users. If you have a standard AnySite install on a single machine, then you can focus exclusively on a single software instance. However, if AnySite is installed on several separate machines, especially if these are laptops that are out in the field, you should coordinate the updates to insure all users are using the same data vintage. Otherwise, the reports and maps will not reflect the same information.
Starting Your Update
You will find a very robust, and detailed AnySite Install Guide on the install media as well as in our Reference Library. This document contains both install and update procedures. I recommend taking the time to review this document prior to starting any update. The following will highlight a few points that I find to be very helpful when I start the update.
Understanding AnySite-specific files. AnySite stores specific configuration settings in a series of files. These files are:
- .mdb – This file contains pointers to critical tables, map configurations and reports.
- .ini – This file contains some of the finer details of your AnySite setup, and a few things that you can modify to change how your AnySite works.
- .ini (setup.ini, and webservices.ini) – These files contain information used by various functions within AnySite. In most cases, you will have made no changes to these files, and the default settings are fine, but I needed to mention them since some folks have made changes. You know who you are.
The installation wizard will place a copy of the current version of these files in the Support Folder within your AnySite directory. This is important since these files will be replaced during the update process. I will usually make an additional copy of these files in a separate folder for additional protection.
Making a copy of the whole AnySite folder. Hard drive space is cheap. I usually make a complete copy of the AnySite folder on a separate location for backup and reference. I also recommend that you rename this folder to reflect the year of the demographics (ie: AnySite_US_2014). This is an especially good idea if you plan a complete uninstall of AnySite followed by a fresh install since you may have inadvertently placed important files within the legacy AnySite directory.
Uninstall/Reinstall vs. Update. There are times that you have good reason to do a complete uninstall and reinstall of AnySite.
- You are using a very outdated version of AnySite.
- You are experiencing numerous technical problems with your install (crashes, hangs, things like that).
- You are dealing with a large amount of “legacy” junk in AnySite and a new start is appealing.
Seriously, when you become comfortable with AnySite, rebuilding from scratch is not as difficult as it sounds and quite often creates a more efficient AnySite environment.
Uninstall/Reinstall. Prior to an uninstall\reinstall AnySite, I recommend the following:
- For additional protection, always make a copy of the files mentioned above.
- Using the Configurator, export your maps and reports to .ART (AnySite Repository Template) files so they can be re-imported to the new update. You will use the Configurator to re-import your map layers and reports – most users find this easy to do.
Uninstall AnySite through the Windows uninstall feature like any other application, and then install the new version of AnySite. When you install the new version, you’ll be starting from “ground zero.” Be aware that there may be some “rebuilding” involved before you are fully operational.
Update. If you decide to do an update here some things to consider:
- If your AnySite instance is from a typical install, the install wizard will automatically begin the update and install the update wherever AnySite is installed.
- The update will replace all the AnySite files, most notably the files mentioned above.
After Updating AnySite
- Copy back the files from the support directory and replace the ones from the update. This will restore your custom work in AnySite.
- Import the new .ART files to replace the older AnySite reports with new ones. When prompted to overwrite select “yes to all.”
- Work through the Configurator to update the years on your custom reports. AnySite update doesn’t make changes to the text found on these reports even though they will most likely be pointing to the correct demographic variable within the data.
TEST – TEST – TEST. I will always test the heck out of the new AnySite. I highly recommend that you review all custom reports and maps. In a multi user environment, it is very important that you try to minimize the impact of the update on other users.
Updates to any major software package may sometimes seem daunting and scary. When it comes to AnySite, you can always call or email our Client Experience Team for help. In fact, many clients choose to take advantage of our training add-on, giving them another level of confidence and support. If this is something you might like to learn more about, click here and let us know. One of our associates will be glad to visit with you about our training add-on or anything else related to AnySite, geo-demographic data, and many other geospatial topics.
So remember, don’t be afraid to answer the update call. I promise it’s not difficult, and “it’ll only hurt for a second!”