Managed Specify Releases

Specify Software Project Staff
08 December 2011
Version 1.0

The Specify application requires that both the database and the software installed on a user's computer are always at the same software release version number and the schema version number. A mismatch can occur if the user updates their local install of Specify before the database is updated or if the user does not have permission to update the database's schema. If their local install of Specify is newer than the release/schema version number in the database they will not be able to use Specify until a Specify administrator is able to update the databse. They can choose to download and install the version they were using earlier and login again. A 'managed release' enables a Specify administrator to control when all the users are notified that a new release is available so a 'mismatch' never occurs.

Managing A Release

The first step in managing a release for an institution is to set the 'local' preference 'RELEASE_MANAGER' to 'true'. This is done by double clicking on the database name in the 'About' box of Specify, then click on 'Add Property' and scroll to the bottom of list. Double-click on the new item and change the 'Name' and click in the 'Value' column and enter 'true'. The second step requires accessto the Institution form from the 'System' -> 'System Setup' -> 'Configuration' menu, or in otherwords, they must be a 'Specify Administrator'.

After setting the preference and then opening the Institution form, the Institution form will contain a new 'section' called 'Managed Releases' as shown in the figure below.

To start performing 'Managed Releases' for your institution, click the radiobutton to 'on' and then set the combobox to the appropriate release, there may only be one available value in the combobox.

How It Works For the Users

The goal of 'Manged Releases' is the automatic disabling of checking for new releases when the user logs in. This is accomplished by setting a local preference on the user's machine that tells Specify to skip the check. This new preference acts similarly to turning off 'Check For Updates At Startup' in the System Preferences, but with one important difference. When you turn off the System Preference for checking updates, the user will never get a notification again until they turn it on again. The MR approach enables users to be notified by the Specify Admin when the database has been upgraded.

After the 'Specify Admin' has turned on 'Manged Releases', the first time the user logs into Specify they will receive the software update notice because their installation doesn't know it is being managed yet. During login Specify checks to see if they are being managed and then sets a local preference automatically. From that point on, when a new release is available the user will no longer be notified until the Specify Admin updates the release number in the Institution form.

When 'Manged Releases' is active and the version number has been updated Specify will not check for updates when it starts, but during the login/setup process.

Specify Admin

When the Specify Admin has set the local preference 'RELEASE_MANAGER,' this means they will always be notified of new releases. They can choose to skip installing the new release until a time when no users are logged in. If a new user were to download and install a newer version of Specify because the Specify Admin had not yet updated the database, a warning dialog would appear and the user would not be able to continue. The user has one of two options:

  1. To wait until the Specify Admin has updated Specify to the newer version.
  2. Download and install the same version of Specify that everyone else in the institution has installed.

WARNING: Specify Admins must never update their version Specify or the schema when other users are logged in.