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FAQ: Networking

I'm interested in a network/site license. What are my options for installing in a networked environment?

Owners of site licenses and 10-packs may install all or part of Sketchpad on a networked file server. There are many possible configurations, as described in the following points:

  • Install everything on each workstation: The benefits of installing Sketchpad and its supporting files directly on each local workstation are that it maximizes program speed and minimizes network traffic. The disadvantages to this approach are that it takes up more space than other options on each local workstation's hard disk, and that you have to install to (or copy to) each machine on your network. For convenience, you may wish to install first from the CD-ROM to the server and then copy the Sketchpad folder from the server to local workstations over the network (rather than install from CD-ROM on each workstation).

    If you are a Windows system administrator who uses MSI to handle bulk installations, an MSI file for Sketchpad is available.

  • Install everything on the server only: If you install the CD-ROM to a network-accessible directory or volume on your server, the program runs entirely from the network. The advantages of this approach are convenience of installation (you install only once) and convenience of further maintenance (upgrades, etc., need only be made to the server). The disadvantage is increased network traffic as workstations access the server. In school computer labs, this traffic will be most noticeable when starting Sketchpad (as each client accesses the server at the same time). On slow-response networks, teachers can work around this by encouraging students to start Sketchpad as soon as they get to the lab rather than only once they're ready to begin using the software (after attendance and class startup).

    This strategy is also the only choice if your workstations are diskless "thin clients."

  • Hybrid installations: Other installation strategies are also possible, in which part of the Sketchpad distribution lives on the server and other parts live on the local workstation. In hybrid installations, we recommend performing a full installation from the CD-ROM to an accessible server directory or volume, and then copying parts of the installed folder to local workstations to increase local access speed and decrease network traffic.

    A good strategy for hybrid installations is to copy all parts of the installation except for Sketchpad Help to local workstations. This requires ~5MB per workstation, rather than ~16MB, and guarantees that all frequently accessed files are available locally. When users request program help while using Sketchpad, they will be asked to locate the "Sketchpad Help" folder, at which point they can navigate to the server directory. Since access to Sketchpad Help happens sporadically (if at all) during program use, different workstations are unlikely to compete with each other at the same moment for access to Sketchpad Help.

    If you leave Sketchpad Help on the server but install the application locally, consider creating and copying an "alias" or a "shortcut" to the Sketchpad Help server folder onto each workstation. If this alias or shortcut is also named "Sketchpad Help," and if it resides next to the Sketchpad application on the local workstation, then Sketchpad will locate the server-based Sketchpad Help folder automatically when users request help and not require them to navigate to the remote Help folder themselves.

If you install all or some of Sketchpad in a write-protected network, you may also wish to review information about Sketchpad's Read/Write Access of Networked Servers.