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Is ACT Misleading me?

Posted on 2004-09-15
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Last Modified: 2008-01-09
OK I just purchased ACT version 7.0 Premium for workgroups.  All the literature from ACT says that this version runs on SQL server, It even came with it's own version of SQL standard licensed for use with ACT.  I have had it installed for about 24 hours now and the more I learn the more I am conviced that it isn't using SQL Server at all and is entirely dependant on MSDE.  So my question is simply this, is there some way I can tell if it is using the SQL server?  If so can I tell what is on SQL Server and what is on MSDE?

Here is some additional info I have come accross:

Fact #1 - in the 1st open beta of this product if ACT was installed on a preexisting SQL server the user could attach the act databases from within the Enterprise Manager with no ill effects.  In the very next beta release (and ever since) if a user did this it would break the database so it would no longer work with the ACT software.  

My thoughts on Fact #1 - If ACT was truly hosting the data IN SQL server why would the user neeed to attach the database at all? shouldn't it just be listed under databases?

Fact #2 - The only way ACT is providing access to their data from outside of ACT is through OLEDB ( http://www.act.com/support/technicalsupport/pf2005/2005sdk/index.cfm ).

My thoughts on Fact #2 - If it were truly hosted on SQL Server wouldn't I be able to access the data through ADO?

Fact #3 - When a new ACT database is created by the user it creates the following 3 files: filename.pad, filename.adf, filename.alf.  The ADF file contains the data (not sure if this is ALL the data or not), the ALF file is a log file and the PAD file contains the connection string:
<ACT2005Database name="EricTest2" host="USA-ERIC" location="C:\Documents and Settings\ericw\My Documents\ACT\ACT for Win 7\Databases" type="Sql" />

My thoughts on Fact #3 - I have been told by ACT tech support that if I create a database in ACT from a client PC it creates those files and hosts them via MSDE (the above connection string is from a client created database), but if I create a database in ACT from the machine with the SQL server installed on it it will host the data from the SQL Server.  Now other than the host name being different the connection string isn't any different when created on the server. Also, the database creation process looks identicle whether it was done on the server or a client and it produces the same 3 files.  

Fact #4 - According to ACT tech support if someone emails me an ACT database all I have to do is open it from within ACT and it will be all ready to go.  If I open it from a client it will be accessed via MSDE if I open it server it will be hosted by and accessed through SQL server.  

My thoughts on Fact #4 - Damn thats some pretty slick and intuitive software!  aka sounds like BS to me.

Sorry for the long post but I am pretty steamed at the moment and would really love to know what kind of crap ACT is slinging at me.

Thanks in Advance, E
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Question by:EWilson12
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by:BoyPupa
ID: 12069539
You do know that msde is just the free version of sql server.   oledb is a very common way of interfacing with sql server, most of the applications I have written use this.  From a connection string perspective there is no difference between connecting to msde or a different version of sql server.  Once you've installed the software on the server, the database should indeed show up under databases in enterprise manager.  Does it?  If so then you are indeed using sql server.  It sounds as though they have included in their software a msde engine so that the software can be run without needing a sql server license, although if they include a lisence in the purchase price, that is an odd decision, unless the sql server purchase were optional.  The bottom line is this.  Set it up on your server.  install a client and tell it to connect to the existing server instead of creating its own local database, go in to the software and do something.  launch the client on the sql server machine. can you see your change?  If so then It sounds like everything is on the up and up.
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by:EWilson12
ID: 12069625
MSDE is not as fast as SQL server due to the limited number of threads.  When I create a database in ACT there is no option to connect to a SQL Server, the only options I have are the name, the location of the file (can be a local or mapped network drive), a checkbox to share it, and an optional username/password to secure it.  Unfortunately I installed ACT on the server using the included SQL server licensed for ACT, this version of SQL Server Standard does not include the SQL Enterprise Manager.  I am currently installing a test copy of ACT on my existing SQL Server box so that I have all the administrative tools.  My understanding is that the database will not show up in the enterprise manager and must be attached but I will know for sure once I finish my test install.  

Thanks for the response, E
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by:BoyPupa
ID: 12069886
Ok, well the only version of sql server of which I'm aware which does not come with enterprise manager is msde.  So if you installed "sql server" on a machine and there's no enterprise manager, then you have actually installed msde.  since you say you already have a sql server and are going to test on that, then complete the setup, attach the database and see what enterprise manager has to say.  in particular, though, there should be a way to direct a client to an existing server, otherwise how can the clients share data?  even if the clients are all just using their own msde, as you suggest, pointing them all the the same datafiles wouldn't work, because the first client to open the files would lock them and other clients wouldn't be able to get in.
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by:EWilson12
ID: 12070407
hmmm, ok have ACT installed on my pre-existing SQL server.  The ACT database will not show up in my Enterprise Manager until I attach them.  For me to Attach the database I must stop the the USAMSQL/ACT7 SQL Server in the SQL Server Service Manager.  I can then Attach the database and view it, once I am done I must detach the database and restart USAMSQL/ACT7 in the SQL Server Service Manager before ACT will let me open the database from within ACT.  Does this shed any light onto what they are using?
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by:Guy Hengel [angelIII / a3]
ID: 12101170
Could it be that you have 2 instances of SQL running on your box:
1) the MSDE installation (probably the default instance)
2) the SQL Server installation (as I can see the instance ACT7)
To check this out, try to register the default instance in SQL Server Enterprise Manager...

This would actually explain the attach/detach thingy, because the same database files cannot be attached to multiple databases at the same time.
Registering the MSDE instance in the Enterprise Manager, you can see the database in the ACT msde installation without "moving" it around.

Now, in the ACT configuration, you should be able to change the server to connect to, thus allowing it to use the SQL Server instance instead of the MSDE instance, using the full power.

CHeers
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by:EWilson12
ID: 12102773
OK I tried to register the USAMSQL\ACT7 instance and neither Windows Authentication nor the SA account works both return login failed error message.  
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by:Guy Hengel [angelIII / a3]
ID: 12109392
If you are a local administrator on the SQL box, you should be able to register to the instance anyhow!
If ACT7 has installed that instance, it might be with blank password, please check the documentation if it is different.
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by:EWilson12
ID: 12113302
ACT7 did install the instance and there is no documentation covering this.  I am the local admin on that box and I tried a blank password not sure what login name to use though.

Thanks, E

Apparently ACT is worried about people stealing their intellectual property and don't want me in the database in this fashion.  Kind of a stupid stance to take since I can attach the database and see everything that way.
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by:Guy Hengel [angelIII / a3]
ID: 12114211
Actually, you can try this:
ensure that the TCP/IP protocol is enabled and first in the list for the ACT7 instance (maybe also remove the named pipes if enabled), because this one is required for the Windows Authentication to work. After that, try to register the ACT7 instance again, using the Windows Authentication. If this works, we can continue...
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by:EWilson12
ID: 12114483
OK I went into the SQL Server - Server Network Utility but I am not sure what to do here, so I have included some pictures:


SQL Server - Server Network Utility:
http://216.201.187.105/Images/Utility.jpg

TCP/IP Settings:
http://216.201.187.105/Images/TCPIP.jpg

Named Pipe Settings:
http://216.201.187.105/Images/Pipes.jpg

Thanks, E
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by:Guy Hengel [angelIII / a3]
ID: 12120030
I couldn't load any of the pictures (page not found)...
You might also email them to me (see my profile)
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by:Guy Hengel [angelIII / a3]
ID: 12123513
I don't know if you already send the email, before doing so post your email address here so i can check if it was not maybe blocked by our spam filters...
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by:EWilson12
ID: 12124722
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Guy Hengel [angelIII / a3] earned 500 total points
ID: 12130446
I see that you have named pipes enabled, you might try to remove them (write down the actual config).
You might do that for both USAMSQL and USAMSQL\ACT7.
Then, open the SQL Client Network utility (on the server), there you
* (General Tab) should have TCP as first enabled protocol
* (Alias Tab) should add an alias with the following properties:
    Server Alias=USAMSQL_ACT7
    Network Library=TCP/IP
    Server Name = USAMSQL\ACT7
    Uncheck "Dynamically determine Port"
    Port Number=1106
   click ok
Now, you should try and be able to register the server USAMSQL_ACT7 in the enterprise manager...
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by:EWilson12
ID: 12134631
login still failing (I used Windows Authentication) ;(

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by:EWilson12
ID: 12134760
Also, In the SQL Server Service MAnager If I select USAMSQL_ACT7 it lags for a bit then pops the following error message:

Error: The network path was not found.
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by:Guy Hengel [angelIII / a3]
ID: 12140409
>>Error: The network path was not found.
This is clearly an indication that at least one of the settings is not correctly entered, please cross-check all server-names, check if PING and NSLOOKUP can validate the server names and ip adresses correctly (USAMSQL).
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by:EWilson12
ID: 12365285
not abandoned, was still kind of thinking about it but if you are in a rush I can award my own points.
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by:agaliano7292
ID: 13732479
I am an ACT! expert and the ACT!2005 PW program has 2 CD one with its own OEM version of SQL Server. If you install on a server running MS SQL it will create its own instance. This can be done and has worked with no issues for me. The access to the database has been protected by ACT! with an encrypted password that is created upon installation.  Everything else in this area seems to pretty accurate about attaching to the sql instance.
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by:EWilson12
ID: 13732495
Crappiest implementation of SQL I have ever seen, ACT 7.0 is slower than a garbage truck!  I ran an opportunities report within ACT! and it took over 6 hours to complete.  I used OLEDB to access the opportunities tables in excel and built the same report manipulating the data by hand in less than 10 minutes.  Not sure what drugs they are on over there but it certainly isn't speed.
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by:agaliano7292
ID: 13732542
You need to make sure that you are on the latest patch because .NET has really slowed things down. You shouldn't have to recreate any opportunity report because you can create the columns of data you want in ACT and then export it to excel. In fact, any column listing in any of the tables can be exported to excel.  Also, there are a number of report issues they are working on. We set up our clients with Stonefield Query to resolve the reports not filtering or running properly.

Sorry to hear its slow, but I have been dealing with it since BETA and have seen A LOT of improvements.  We are just working through these as we know that ACT is working on patches to speed up performance.
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by:agaliano7292
ID: 13732558
One more item, with Premium you don't want to run this MSDE if you have a SQL server that can suppor the database. MSDE has a 2GB limit and because of all the features in these complete rewrite, you could easily exceed that limitation.  We recommend to our clients to run the ACT database on a server and install the OEM SQL to avoid the MSDE issues.
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by:EWilson12
ID: 13732642
I have been living and breathing ACT on a daily basis since it's release, I do have it installed on SQL and it would take an ACT! of god for this program to ever earn a recomendation from me.  I pray every day that M$ will ramp up it's development on their CRM so that it will quickly evolve into a solution I can use to put ACT! out of it's misery (in our organization at least).  
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