OnDemand Version Overview

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OnDemand Version Overview

Some users may wish to use DONATION from two or more computers (for instance, one at work and one at home) and have access to the same database from those computers. This could be for themselves, or for different people.

 

The cloud-based OnDemand Version, introduced in late 2020, is an excellent way to do that.

 

Unlike all other versions of DONATION, the OnDemand version can also be run on Apple Macintosh (Mac) computers, though it will still look like a Windows program. It can also be run, for limited uses, on Android and iOS (iPad) tablets.

 

There are also several other options for multiple users accessing DONATION, detailed on the Multiple User Options page, with pros and cons for each option, including the Standard version's Cloud Storage Service, the Local Network Versions, the Remote Database Version, or using a remote-access solution.

 

This page is only about the OnDemand Version.

With this version, you do not have to install the DONATION program itself on your computer, and in fact you can also run it on Apple Mac computers, and (with significant limitations) Android or iPad tablets! Rather than installing the program, you install a small OnDemand client program. The DONATION program and your database are stored on servers ("in the cloud"). The client program will securely access the DONATION program and your database directly over the Internet, via remote control.

Only screen images and your keyboard actions and mouse movements are transmitted over the Internet, so while it will be a bit slower than fully local versions like the Standard and Local Network versions, it is much faster than the Remote Database version, which has to transmit all data that it accesses over the Internet. However, like the Remote Database Version, you should only consider this version if you have reliable fairly high-speed Internet.

This OnDemand technology is very similar to Citrix, Microsoft Remote Desktop and Remote Desktop Services (previously called Terminal Server), and other remote access solutions like TeamViewer, LogMeIn and AnyDesk. Unlike some of those solutions, it allows for multiple simultaneous users of the same program and database, safely. While the OnDemand version of DONATION is not exactly web-based (it is not accessed through a web browser such as Edge, Internet Explorer or Chrome) it is the closest to a web-based application of any of the versions of DONATION, because you do not have to install the DONATION program itself.

The OnDemand servers that support this version of DONATION are maintained by the church software vendor ACS Technologies (ACST), with whom we have a partnership for sharing some technology such as this. We pay them for our OnDemand users. ACST are the makers of the church software programs Realm (an entirely web-based online program) and ACS Church Management (installed software, that is also available as an OnDemand version).

Each user of this version for a given organization will have their own user name and password required to access the database.

Like the Local Network and Remote Database versions, with this version there is only one copy of the database file, so there are no real dangers of users making independent changes to independent copies of it, that cannot then be merged. (The Cloud Storage Service of the Standard version also eliminates that danger, though in a different way.) The OnDemand Version is accessible from any computer on which you have installed the small client program.

Pricing Issues

The OnDemand Version of DONATION has the same price as the Local Network and Remote Database Versions, which is higher than the price of the regular Standard version, because they all allow you to have multiple users doing data entry simultaneously (at exactly the same time). We have to pay a significant monthly cost for each simultaneous user of the OnDemand version, across all organizations using it, which is another reason for the higher price.

Because the OnDemand Version involves a service (hosting the program and your database on remote servers), there is one significant pricing difference from all other versions except for Remote Database, which is that Annual renewals are required to keep using it after the first year. If you do not pay your renewal when your current annual support expires, you will lose access to your database until you pay again, after a 30-day grace period.

Unlike the Remote Database version, however, you are allowed to have multiple databases for multiple organizations, at no additional cost.

Like all other versions except for the Remote Database version, the first user to start DONATION after you have made a payment will have to request an updated license key, so that the program knows your payments are up to date. (It may also be automatically retrieved for you, rather than you having to request it and wait for us to send it to you.)

 

Backups

 

Backups are routinely made by ACST of all of the contents of the remote servers, to protect against hardware failures etc. However, you should not depend on them for backups of your database - that is still your responsibility. You should set up a backup reminder frequency in the Backup/Restore ⇒ Backup Frequency and Options window.

 

Because your database is already stored on a server that is routinely backed up, the Internet Backups feature is not needed and so is not included in the OnDemand version. (All that feature would do would be to save it on a 2nd server.) With this version, it is perfectly all right to just save your backups to the Backup subdirectory of your Data Directory (which is the initial default location you are prompted to save to). Other versions prompt you to save backups off of your hard drive, for instance to a USB memory key, in case your hard drive dies.

 

Updates to the Program

 

Unlike all other versions of DONATION, you do not have to either install or update the DONATION program itself on your computer. We will ensure that the program is updated regularly on the server when we do new releases with improved features and/or bug fixes.

 

Login and Startup

 

As mentioned above, each user from an organization using the OnDemand Version will have their own login. Please see OnDemand Version Login and Setup for how your program and its database are initially set up.

 

That section also explains potential problems connecting to the server, particularly about firewalls.

 

Conversion from Previous Versions of DONATION

 

To switch to the OnDemand version from any other version of DONATION, you will have to first contact us and give us the contact information for a person who should be the Site Administrator of your users for the OnDemand version. Usually that will be the main user of the program, but it could alternatively be someone who doesn't routinely use the program but who you still want to do that administration. Further Site Administrators can be added later.

 

We will then have an OnDemand login set up for that Site Administrator. They can then download and install the OnDemand client from our web page www.software4nonprofits.com/ondemand.htm#download. After running that client program, they will be able to use a User Maintenance application to set up further user logins, and specify whether each of those users is also a Site Administrator.

 

The Site Administrator can then run DONATION via the OnDemand client. Please see OnDemand Version Login and Initial Setup for the rest of the details about what you do next.

 

If one user in your organization is using the OnDemand Version, all users have to, or you will not be accessing the same copy of the database!

 

Managing Users and Logins

 

Each user of the OnDemand Version should have their own login user name and password. One slight complexity with the OnDemand version is that there are actually two places that users must be set up, and assigned appropriate permissions:

 

1.The OnDemand User Management application (not part of DONATION), which allows any Site Administrator to set up logins, and determine who is a Site Administrator in that application itself. It also allows the Site Administrator to determine which Software4Nonprofits programs each user has access to, for our customers who own both DONATION and ACCOUNTS.
 

2.The Maintenance ⇒ Administer All Users menu option in DONATION, which allows you to specify the permissions of each of those user logins, such as whether they are an Administrator with full permissions, a Full user (except for Administration), a Read Only user, Limited user, or Donors Only user.

 

See OnDemand Version User Management for full details on setting that all up and managing it.

 

Printing and Saving to PDF

 

If you go to print reports, you will normally see two printers on the list - your local computer's default printer, and one called "Preview PDF (from COMPUTERNAME)", where COMPUTERNAME is replaced by the name of your local computer.

 

Using the "Preview PDF ..." printer will actually create a PDF with a filename such as "Job #2.PDF", which you are not prompted for, in your local computer's TEMP directory, and then display it in Acrobat Reader on your computer (as opposed to using Acrobat Reader on the OnDemand server). We recommend instead using the specific features in DONATION for saving reports, receipts and letters to PDFs, which will generate them on the server, prompting for your desired filename as required, and display them (when necessary) using Acrobat Reader on the server. Those features we recommend using are the Save PDF and Save As buttons in reports and built-in receipts, and the File ⇒ Save PDF menu option (and associated toolbar button) when you are viewing mail-merge letters or receipts.

 

If you have additional real printers on your local computer that you need to be able to print to from your OnDemand DONATION program, please see the instructions at https://wiki.acstechnologies.com/display/OnDemand/Setting+up+a+Printer+in+OnDemand for setting them up.  (The Windows instructions there actually have a step you won't need to do, namely picking Printers from the File menu, but it should be pretty obvious.) In brief, just select OnDemand Printing from the main OnDemand menu that comes up after you login, to get to the window where you can configure printers.

 

Accessing the Data Directory, and Drives on your Own Computer

 

Your database and other files in your data directory will be on the S: drive under OnDemand, not on the C: drive as in all other versions.

 

You do have access to the drives (including plugged-in USB memory keys and mapped drives) on your own computer, when you are running the OnDemand version of DONATION. However, their drive letters will be changed.

 

Your computer's C: drive will show up as J: when you are using the OnDemand version. Any successive drive letters on your computer will come up on successive drive letters under OnDemand, so a USB on D: will show up as K: etc.

 

The access to the drives on your computer allows you to save exported files or reports, or make backups, to your own computer, and import files or restore backups from your own computer, etc.

 

Mapped drives on your computer, like Z:, will normally show up with their drive letter unchanged. However, if your computer has a drive mapped to S:, that could cause a conflict with the way your data directory is mapped to the S: drive, so please avoid that.

 

Security

 

Please see the OnDemand Version Security page.

 

Users with Multiple Databases

 

Unlike the Remote Database Version, with the OnDemand version you are allowed to use the Database ⇒ Switch Databases menu option and have multiple databases, at no additional charge, just like in the Standard and Local Network versions.

 

If you are switching from another version of the program and you already have multiple databases, please follow the relevant instructions in the Help topic Move the Program from One Computer to Another to get those additional databases into your OnDemand version.

 

However, if there really is just one main person using each database, who is different from the main person using each other database, and other users never (or only rarely) access that database, that is not the intention of our allowing this to be done at no extra charge. In that case, we would expect that the main user for each organization / database would register and pay for the program separately.

For instance, if one user uses DONATION for two organizations, but occasionally another user needs to look at both of those databases, or take over while the first user is away on vacation, that's fine.

But suppose you have one primary user using DONATION for one organization, and a different primary user using DONATION for another organization, with perhaps occasional switching places while one or the other is on vacation. If they have only one registration and payment, and they are using multiple databases through Database ⇒ Switch Databases, that would not be considered to be a reasonable application of our pricing structure. They should register and pay separately.

 

Simultaneous Users and Limitations

 

With the OnDemand Version you are allowed up to 5 users simultaneously accessing the same DONATION database. When you are first evaluating the program (before you pay), only one user can use it at a time.

 

While you can have simultaneous users running DONATION, there are some actions in the program that can only be run when you are the only user running DONATION, because we have judged that there is too much danger of conflicting or inconsistent data being put into the database if more than one person tries to do the same actions at the same time. For instance, restoring database backups. In these cases, you will receive a message from the program informing you of why you cannot do that action at that time, and what you can do about that.

 

In addition, only one user at a time can be creating receipts, or doing other Receipt menu options that can affect receipts, although other users can still be logged into DONATION at the same time. If you do have multiple users wanting to create individual receipts at the same time, please be careful to do your printing (or saving to PDF, or emailing) of those receipts as quickly as possible. It's only after you have done one of those actions, or exit the window viewing the receipts, that another user can do Receipt menu actions.

 

In some other cases, two or more users can do the same thing at the same time (for example creating or editing donors or donations on the main window), but in unusual circumstances, you may get an error message. For instance, suppose two users are simultaneously making an address change for the exact same donor. The first one who clicks Save will have their changes saved, but the second one will probably get a slightly technical-looking error message saying "Record changed between retrieve and update", and will not be able to save their changes. They will have to click Cancel to abandon their changes.

 

In the OnDemand Version, a Refresh button appears at the top right of the Donor List on the main window. Clicking that will reload the main window, to pick up changes made by other simultaneous users, for instance added or deleted donors, changes to donor names, changes to the lists of donor or donation categories, etc.

 

Although the DONATION program almost never crashes, if it does, or if a user running DONATION restarts or turns off their computer without exiting DONATION first or there is a power failure, a minor problem can occur. Any user on another computer that tries to run DONATION may get a message that the maximum number of simultaneous users has been exceeded, when it in fact hasn't. (That includes if only one simultaneous user is allowed!) That's because the copy of DONATION that crashed, or wasn't exited properly when its computer was restarted, didn't have a chance to notify the database server that it had exited, and thus the server thinks it is still using up one of your simultaneous users. Fortunately, this problem is easily resolved - wait two minutes and try again, and it will be OK, because indications in the server that any given simultaneous user is using DONATION are automatically cleared after two minutes.

 

Another similar problem that can happen if your entire computer crashes is that when you try to sign on to the OnDemand client again, it can say that your user is already logged in. (On OnDemand user name can only be logged in from one computer at a time.) That may require contacting us to clear that.

 

WARNING: The Program will Exit after Two Hours of Inactivity

Because you are using server resources, you should exit DONATION when you are not using it. If you are using the OnDemand Version and you leave DONATION running for two hours without doing anything in it, it will automatically give you a message then exit the program, so that others can use it and you are no longer using up server resources.

Please note that this automatic exiting after two hours of inactivity will also abandon any unsaved changes to a donor or a donation on the main window. So you should never leave the program alone for that long when you are in the middle of unsaved data entry!

However, the program will not exit and abandon unsaved work if you are in the Batch Entry window.

In addition, it is crucial that you exit the OnDemand Client program window as soon as you are finished using DONATION, because we are charged for each simultaneous user of the program across all organizations using the OnDemand version. The program will actually give you a message each time you exit it, reminding you to do that.

 

Switching Back from the OnDemand Version to another Version

 

This is actually quite simple, and is basically done by following the instructions in the Help topic Move the Program from One Computer to Another.

 

Please be sure to inform us if you have made this switch, so that we can turn off your access to the OnDemand version.

 

Differences between the OnDemand Version and all Other Versions

 

Because in the OnDemand Version both the program and your data are on servers, there are actually a lot of differences between how things are organized with it than with other versions. However, the features are basically the same - you are not giving up anything by using OnDemand.

 

Here are the most significant differences, that users should be aware of - particularly users who have used other versions of DONATION before:

 

You never have to install or upgrade the program, only the OnDemand Client program. We will ensure that DONATION is always kept up to date when there are new releases.

You can run it on Apple Mac computers, and also (with limitations) on iOS (iPad) and Android tablets. Tablet use would only be recommended for quick look-ups and reports.

It requires reasonably fast and reliable Internet access.

It runs somewhat slower than the Lite, Standard, and Local Network versions. It runs much faster than the Remote Database Version.

Users log in to the OnDemand Client with a login user name and password, then they do not have to provide a password to get into the program. That is somewhat similar to the Remote Database Version where you log in to the program with an email address and password. In both versions, your login determines your permissions / access level, so no separate passwords are needed to determine that.

Users have to initially be set up in two places: the OnDemand User Management application, to give them a login to the OnDemand Client, and the program's Maintenance ⇒ Administer All Users window, to assign their permissions / access level for DONATION.

Like the Remote Database Version, when you first start using the OnDemand version you will have to wait briefly for us to set it up for you. Normally this should take no more than one business day, often much faster.

Like the Remote Database and Local Network versions, there is only ever one copy of the program's database, and it does not have to be backed up and restored to other computers for other users to access it. (With the Standard version, such backing up and restoring is necessary for sharing between computers, but it can be safely automated with the Cloud Storage Service.)

The usual Backup/Restore menu options are still available, though, for other purposes, like making extra backups to your own computer, or restoring a backup to go back to an earlier version of the database, after you have done something that you need to undo.

Initially the only printer you have access to is the default printer on your local computer. Additional printers can be added, if you have more than one.

The Data Directory location is different from all other versions: It is always S:\Cooperstock Software\Donation.

Unlike all other versions, all users for one organization share that same Data Directory. In all other versions, each user has to install the DONATION software on their computer and thus has their own copy of the Data Directory. Because of this, there are a number of related changes to ensure that one user's work does not interfere with another user's work, and that users can have their own settings:

oInstead of some settings, that are personal choices, being stored in the file DONATION.INI in the Data Directory, each user has a file USERNAME.INI in the Data Directory that is used instead of DONATION.INI. (USERNAME here, and in the next few bullet points, is replaced by the User Name you logged in with.)

oInstead of mail-merge letter and receipt templates that you are in the process of editing, and results of mail merges, being stored in a Letters subdirectory under the Data Directory, they are stored in a subdirectory named Letters.USERNAME. The actual templates, however, are always stored in the database and shared by all users, as with all other versions of the program.

oInstead of putting temporary files in your computer's normal TEMP directory, whatever that is, they are stored in a Temp.USERNAME subdirectory under the Data Directory.

oSimilarly, Import and Export subdirectories of the Data Directory, used for some functions, are replaced by Import.USERNAME and Export.USERNAME.

You can access your local Windows or Mac computer's drives, but they will come up as drive J: and later. So for Windows, your main drive C: will appear as J:, if you have a D: drive (likely a USB memory key) it will appear as K:, etc. Those drive letters can be used for reading and writing files, for instance if you want to save a database backup to your own computer's hard drive rather than just on the server.

Although ACS Technologies, who supply the servers, make regular backups of everything on those servers, and have redundancies in case of hardware failures, you should not depend on only that for the security of your data. You should still do regular database backups, whether to the server, or to your local hard drive. Because the server is already on the Internet, there is no need for the program's special Internet Backups feature and it is therefore not available.

Like the Local Network and Remote Database versions, you can have multiple simultaneous users doing data entry at the same time.

Unlike the Remote Database Version, there is no extra charge for additional databases.

Like the Remote Database Version, but unlike other versions, Annual Renewal payments are absolutely required to keep using the program. (There is a 30-day grace period after your support expires, before it will stop working. The program warns you when your expiry date is coming up soon, and when it has passed.)

After each payment, one user will have to update the program's license key to reflect your new support expiry date. That will update it for all users, which is unlike all other versions where each user has to update the license key for their own computer. The exception to that is the Remote Database Version, which doesn't need or use license keys at all.

Microsoft Word and Excel are not available on the OnDemand server, due to expensive licensing requirements. For the very few places where they can be used in the program, the open source office program OpenOffice will be used instead. OpenOffice Writer replaces Word, and OpenOffice Calc replaces Excel. If you absolutely need to use Word or Excel, you can do that work on your own computer, outside of the OnDemand environment. Reports can still be exported to regular Excel files, and data can still be imported from regular Excel files. If you export a report to Excel and ask for it to be opened, it will be opened in OpenOffice Calc. If you ask to import a Word document for use as a mail-merge template, OpenOffice Writer will be used to convert it to HTML, which unfortunately does not always give great conversions.

Because you will not have access to Control Panel or Windows Settings on the OnDemand server, if you have preferred short and long date formats they can be set in the program's menu option Maintenance ⇒ Date Formats, which is available in only the OnDemand version.

Currency formats cannot be changed from US settings (dollar signs and commas at the thousands), so that will make the OnDemand version unappealing to any users in countries with different currencies (not dollars). Internet speeds from outside North America to the servers, which are in North America, would probably also make the OnDemand version unusable.

The OnDemand server is rebooted every night at 2:55am Eastern Time, and will be back at 3am. If you start the program within one hour of that time, you will be warned about the upcoming reboot.

Like the Remote Database Version, because we are paying for server resources, if you leave the program inactive for two hours it will give you a message and then exit. We have to pay for the maximum number of simultaneous users across all user organizations during each month, so please exit the program any time you are not using it, and also please exit the OnDemand Client program. (What is counted for our payments is the number of users who have that OnDemand Client program, or any program launched from it, running.)

The novaPDF printer driver is not included with this version. That was only needed for creating PDFs from mail-merge letters or receipts. In this version that has been replaced with a different method of doing that. Because novaPDF is not included, the menu option Tools ⇒ Fix NovaPDF Problems was removed from this version.

 


This topic was last edited on Dec 18, 2020