Category Archives: Updates

What do the version numbers mean?

We’re often asked what the significance of our version numbers are and how often we release a new update, upgrade or version.  Here is an extract from the TimeControl Installation Guide explaining our 4-part version number:
HMS releases updates to TimeControl in three different levels:

Updates
An update to TimeControl is identified by the 3rd level of the version number.  For example, in version 6.1.2, “2” would be an update.  An update to TimeControl includes fixes to existing functionality and while it may have small additions to the data structure it has no changes to the existing data structure.  An update may include minor enhancements to existing functionality and, less typically, new functionality.

Upgrades
An upgrade to TimeControl is identified by the 2nd level of the version number.  For example, in version 6.1.0, “1” would be an upgrade.  An upgrade to TimeControl may fix existing functionality and will contain enhancements to existing functionality as well as new functionality.  An upgrade may include some changes to existing data structures as well as additional data structure elements.

Versions
A new version of TimeControl is identified by the 1st level of the version number.  For example, in version 6.0.0, “6” would be a new version.  A new version of TimeControl represents a change in the underlying architecture.  This may mean a change or an increase in the types of platforms supported, in the technology layers such as database connections or communications protocol and in the fundamental interface design and architecture.  A new version typically includes new functionality and enhanced or changed existing functionality.  In some cases, functionality in a new version is deprecated.  Data structures may undergo significant change in a new version compared to an old version.

Build
In addition to new updates and upgrades, you may find a 4th digit in your version.  This is a “Build” number and this may change over time.  A new build is usually made when we identify a hotfix that is required but only for a limited circumstance so a complete new Update isn’t required.

Where to find your version number
VersionInfo If you are the Administrator, go to the TimeControl administrator Menu, Select “About” in the Actions menu on the right and then click “Support Information”.  You’ll see a screen like the one here taken from the TimeControl evaluation system.  Here you can see the version is 6.6.2.1.  That’s Version 6, Upgrade 6, Update 2 and build 1.
This screen also shows the version of every component of TimeControl.  The Technical Support team often asks for this information as a mismatch between one component and another after an upgrade can be a problem.

 

Upgrade best practices

Upgrade_TimeControlThe HMS Software technical department gets calls almost every day from existing clients asking questions or for assistance in doing an upgrade.  For some of these organizations, we find that upgrade practices are ad-hoc.  These organizations don’t have a standard procedure for managing upgrades and are making their best effort to get to the lastest and greatest TimeControl version.
Here are a few lessons about upgrades that we have learned over the years that are common to almost all TimeControl users whether you are moving from version 6.0 to 6.1 or 4.6 to 6.1:

Back it up
You might think that everyone backs up their enterprise data but sadly that’s just not true.  No matter how confident you are that your particular deployment of TimeControl will be seamless and instant, back up your data.  In some cases, organizations with virtual servers can actually back up the entire TimeControl environment include the database server, the database itself and even the TimeControl instance.  That’s fine.  But don’t get started on an upgrade without backing it up first.

Look before you leap
This advice is often given to swimmers venturing outdoors into an unknown area.  Diving into water that looks deep but turns out to be rock-filled or shallow can be dangerous.  In the case of TimeControl, take a look at the Read-Me files, any What’s New in this version files and even the installation and upgrade guide before jumping into a new version.  Just because a new version of TimeControl has an exciting new screen doesn’t mean that you need to upgrade right away.  If your current TimeControl is happily operating then there is a disincentive to go through the effort of upgrading.

All the world’s a stage
”All the world’s a stage…” said Shakespeare (in As you Like It).  In this case, I’m referring to staging your upgrade.  Every enterprise system should probably have both a production instance and a staging or development instance.  Your TimeControl licensing allows you to do this without extra cost.  Establishing an instance of TimeControl that has everything your production configuration has (easy to do by copying the production database back to the staging instance) means that you can test out new updates before they’re made available to the end-users.  That’s just a best practice for any enterprise system, not just TimeControl.  This allows not only new updates but any configuration changes such as new filters, new reports, new validation rules to be tested out in advance.  With a new version like TimeControl 6.0 where the architecture was significantly changed or 6.1 where core functions like table management underwent big changes, you’ll be able to ensure that your system will work just as it should before end users are exposed to it.

Do the whole upgrade
One of the most common upgrade problems reported to our technical staff from clients is finding that the client either skipped a step or didn’t finish the entire process.  This is particularly true when clients are trying to upgrade through multiple versions and the client doesn’t let the Administration Transaction Server start and complete the update work in each version before moving onto the next.  So, make sure you’ve complete all the steps to the update!

Be prepared to advance to the rear
Not every upgrade goes perfectly and for a wide variety of reasons.  When you do your update, be prepared to retreat, regroup and try again.  If that happens, HMS Technical support will be available to answer questions on what the issue was.

With a product that is in its sixth generation and 17th year on the market, we’ve seen a lot of updates and full upgrades over the years.  If you’d prefer, HMS Consulting services is always available to help you get the very latest version up and running in your office!

Happy upgrading.