Eliminating the need for the Server Admin Wizard for routine tasks

The current Panorama X Server implementation (10.2b5) relies on the Server Administration wizard for routine tasks like connecting to servers and downloading databases. This has always made me a bit uneasy as this is kind of a complicated and powerful tool to hand over to basic end users, but I figured I could always go back and figure something else out later. Conversations with Tom Cooper made me realize I had better do this sooner rather than later. I’ve made some changes that will be in the next beta (b6), I’m not releasing these yet but I wanted to jot down my thoughts while they are fresh. This post will probably be useful for many users in the future when this section of the forum becomes public and searchable.

First of all, adding a remote server can now be easily done with the addremotehost statement. So you can make a database with a button to connect to your remote server. The user doesn’t have to type in the url or use the Server Admin wizard. (You would have to send them the database via email, url stick, etc.)

I’ve also set up a system where you can send a person a link to add a remote host. When they click on this link, it automatically opens Panorama and sets up the remote host, again, with no typing of the url or use of the Server Admin wizard. I’ve documented this under Using a Link to Configure a Remote Server on this revised help page:

Remember, any of this is only necessary for remote servers. If the server is on the same network as the client, setup is automatic.

There is now a new option that allows Server Administrator access to be restricted to only a subset of users. So you can keep out users from fiddling with your server. This is documented under Minimum Admin Role on this page:

The only problem is, now how are these restricted users going to download databases? They can’t use the Server Administrator wizard to do it, so they need another way. One method would be to deliver the databases to them some other way – email, usb stick, etc. This only has to be done once, so it could be practical in many cases.

However, there is now a hostdownload statement that makes it easy to download a database with your own custom program, possibly just a single line. Here is the documentation:

Now if you read this documentation you may think this is quite a complicated statement, and it can be - I actually rewrote the Server Admin wizard to use this statement, so it needed to be flexible. But the simple case is very simple. So you can easily create a database with a few buttons to download the databases you want a user to be able to access, and just send them that. Or even one button to download all the needed databases. You could make one “master” database that does the server connection and downloads the needed database. Importantly, this is all under your control, so you can decide what users can download and what they cannot. They can’t go to the Server Administration wizard behind your back.

I’ve got one more step I’m going to do next – the ability for an admin user to generate a link to download a database that can be given to non-admin users. So you wouldn’t have to even create a custom database as I described above, you can just send a user a link and when they click on it the corresponding database will be downloaded. That should be done in another couple of days, all the foundational pieces are already in place.