Deploying NodeXL

Feb 16, 2012 at 9:54 PM

I have been using and experimenting with NodeXL for a few months and now I'm ready to deploy it to a few agencies who will use it to document disease testing and social networks for monthly progress reports on grants from the CDC. I'll be conducting training in a couple of weeks, so I'll also have to set up a computer lab.

I just want to make sure I do it right, so I'm asking if I'm missing anything.

1. On a mix of computers running Excel 2007/2010 on Windows XP/Vista/7--Install either 1.0.1.196 (which I have based my template on) or 1.0.1.201 (if there is no major change in functionality that I have to allow for (and rewrite the training materials that I have created))

2. Export the Options settings from my computer via thumb drive and Import them for each installation.

3. Copy my empty template file to each computer (for the classroom) and to a folder on the server (for the work copy at each agency).

4. Set the network folder on the server as a trusted location in Excel.

Have I missed anything? I don't want to hit any surprises in front of a classroom of people.

Thanks for your insight (and this software).

Feb 16, 2012 at 10:37 PM
Edited Feb 16, 2012 at 10:45 PM

Bill:

If multiple people will be logging into your lab and agency computers with different accounts, you'll have to install NodeXL for "everyone" on each computer.  Please see "How to install NodeXL for multiple users" at http://nodexl.codeplex.com/discussions/228638 for details.

If that's the case, getting each person to use the same options file is going to be a bit tricky, because each account gets its own hidden "new workbook options file" that is stored in his profile folder.  Each person is going to have to import the standard options file you want him to use, then select NodeXL, Options, Use Current for New in the ribbon to get a copy of that options file into his profile folder.  That doesn't happen automatically.

If you won't be using multiple accounts on each computer, then my previous two points don't apply.

I assume you have customized the NodeXLGraph.xltx template file for your own use?  That could be a problem, because the template file can change with each release and I always assume that people are using the template file included in the latest setup.  It's one of the reasons I hide the template file.  You may get everything to work with a given release, but upgrading to a newer release, should you ever want to do that, might be a pain.

I've never tried to open the template file from a shared network location.  Does that work?

-- Tony

Feb 17, 2012 at 4:34 PM
Edited Feb 17, 2012 at 9:54 PM

Hi Tony

1.a. I always install it using the "Everyone" setting. The classroom is a one-shot training, so only one user will ever log in to each of those computers and I'll put a local copy of the template on each one. If I log in as the user when I set it up, they'll use that same account when they get training. So that should be okay. I'll do that import of the standard options file in advance.

1.b. Thanks for the heads-up about the hidden options file with multiple users. That may be important when deploying it at the agencies.

2.a. As far as the NodeXLGraph.xltx, yes I worked from that. But when I open the xltx file, the only evidence I see of my work is the Autofill Columns settings. There's no Conditional Formatting rules that I set or anything else. Is that as it should be?

2.b. I plan to deploy one version (probably 1.0.1.196, since that's what I have used to write the materials and set up the file). The agencies will use that version for the rest of this grant year. I'll tell them not to update NodeXL. (There are only 5 or 6 agencies and only 1-3 users of the program at each).

3. Shared network--I worked on this workbook for a month or two off and on as I was prepping the training materials. Then I moved all the training material into one directory on a shared network drive. A few days later, when I tried to use it, I had nothing! Excel didn't even have the NodeXL ribbon in it! Panic time! I did some research (including this forum), and found it was a matter of making that folder on the network a Trusted Location in Excel (apparently it has to do with NodeXL writing a temp file. Is that right?). Now it's working fine on the shared drive (but noticeably a little slow when I change the graph, highlight vertices, drag groups, etc.).

Do you foresee any problem with 2 or 3 people working on one file (not at the same time) like this?

Thanks for your help.

 

Feb 21, 2012 at 7:31 PM

Bill:

The Trusted Locations business is just Excel assuming that stuff on your own hard drive is safe, but that stuff on a network is questionable.  It sounds like you've figured out how to reassure Excel on that issue.

If you customize the NodeXL template file, or any other Excel template file for that matter, you have to be careful how you open the template file to add your customizations.  Here is one correct way:

    1. Open Excel.

    2. Use Office Button, Open to open the NodeXLGraph.xltx file.  The file opens as a template, which is what you want.

    3. Add your customizations.

    4. Save the NodeXLGraph.xltx file.

If, instead, you double-click the NodeXLGraph.xltx file, for example, Excel will create a workbook from the template instead of opening the template itself.  You don't want that during customization.

Because your end users will be double-clicking your customized NodeXLGraph.xltx file or using a similar technique, Excel will create a workbook from the template (which in this case is what you want) and not simultaneously editing the template.  I think that should work with no problem.

Whatever you do, give yourself plenty of time to get this all set up.  As you said, you don't want any last-minute surprises.

-- Tony

Feb 29, 2012 at 3:28 AM

Okay, Wednesday's the day. Training starts at 1PM EST. The computer lab is set up with version 1.0.1.201, but the sample file was done on 1.0.1.196 and the screenshots in my training materials were from the same version--a few differences, but no biggie.

I have one problem, though. I cannot get the networks to group using Layout Options...Layout each of the graph's groups in its own box and sort the boxes by group size. I've checked that radio button, but it will not work.

Did I mess something up in the hidden columns while I was working with this new file? Any idea what it could be? Any idea for a fix before the training?

Thanks for all your help so far.

Bill

Feb 29, 2012 at 4:15 AM

Bill:

I assume that you have actually created groups before attempting to lay them out in boxes.

Can you post the sample file on the Issues tab at http://nodexl.codeplex.com/workitem/list/basic?  I'll try it in 1.0.1.201 and see if I can find the problem.

-- Tony

Mar 6, 2012 at 6:35 PM
Edited Mar 6, 2012 at 9:09 PM

D'oh! Because I had a fair amount of formulas and formatting, I re-used the original workbook. I deleted the Edges and Vertices, but forgot about the Groups when I put new data in it (I had hidden all the worksheets except Edges and Vertices to keep it simple for end-users).

Because of problems setting the colors to those that the CDC requires, I'm not using Groups for the graph visuals (color, size, etc.), and I forgot that I still need them for the Layout Options Grouping. The old groups were still in the Groups and Group Vertices worksheets. Now they are working fine.

Sorry for the panic, and thanks for all your help. I'll try it in 1.0.1.201 this evening, since I'm still running 1.0.1.196 at work.