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 Using Apex 9 on a Terminal Server
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Posted - November 30 2006 :  10:26:51 AM  Show Profile Send a private message to admin
Apex still runs great on a terminal server but there are some capabilities that are more challenging to support remotely. Unfortunately, some of the coolest Apex 9 features end up on this list so I thought that perhaps it would be worth reviewing them.

Email

A lot of companies are sending their P/Os via email. This seems to be slowly overtaking faxes as the preferred communications medium. It is also useful to be able to email reports like the Consolidated Material Report to project managers. For users on a terminal server this means that the terminal server has to offer them an email client. This can be expensive (and a bit challenging technically) to do with Outlook. Outlook Express works fine but it can still be a little confusing to the users to have two email clients running (one on the terminal server and one on their own desktops).

This isn't new to Apex 9 but now that more and more distributors have good procedures in place for accepting P/Os via email it might be worth looking into.

Importing and Exporting

Apex 9 has added a lot of importing and exporting capabilities. This gives Apex users a lot of power to communicate and analyze their data. For example, vendor pricing can now be loaded via Excel spreadsheets or in a dozen other formats. The Quick Code list can be exported, sent to a vendor for pricing, and imported back in. The list goes on and on.

However, to be able to do this the Apex users need to be able to store and retrieve files on the hard drive. Once saved to the hard drive the files may need to be picked up and sent in an email or opened in Excel. This can be a bit more challenging on a terminal server.

Document Imaging

One of the coolest new things in Apex is the ability to store scanned documents. For example, it is not uncommon to have a P/O that shows a lot price and then a description of "as per attached". The problem before Apex 9 was "what attachment?" The users either had to retype the attachment into Apex or manually collate the papers together.

With Apex 9 all of these documents can be scanned directly into the program and printed or viewed as desired. Other documents that are commonly scanned include submittals, vendor quotes, invoices, change orders, signed approvals, and packing slips. This has the potential of virtually eliminating the paper files that accompany major purchase orders.

The challenge when you are running Apex on a terminal server is that scanners typically cannot be shared across a network. Usually the terminal server is in a remote location (or possibly even another city), so loading paper into a scanner connected to the terminal server is out of the question.

Update: There are some new ways to add scanning support to a Terminal Server. See this for more details.

The benefits of scanning are so significant that some Apex users on terminal servers have set up "service bureaus" inside their companies where they can send their documents to the home office (where the terminal server lives) for imaging. During beta testing we saw hundreds of pages of documents scanned within the first couple weeks of introduction.

There is also a bit of an impact on the database server since images are being stored directly in the database. Apex is able to compress each image to about 30-40k, so please use those numbers when calculating how the database could grow.

P/O Printing

Apex 9 has the ability to print P/Os based on selection criterion. For example, a user can request Apex to print all of the purchase orders for a job. This could impact you on a terminal server a couple ways: By default the output will go to the printer but this has the potential to generate a lot of data all of a sudden since the P/O forms may be based on bitmaps. If the user elects to preview the purchase orders instead this can take a LOT of RAM to form the previewed image. Again, this is a very nice and highly requested feature but it needs to be considered when running on a terminal server.

Screen Resolution

Apex 9 requires at least 1024x768 screen resolution so you will want to verify that your users are running in that resolution or greater. During our beta testing we did not notice any major increase in bandwidth requirements for terminal servers.


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