Imperfect update process

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sshank
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Imperfect update process

Post by sshank » Tue Apr 30, 2019 4:37 pm

I'd like to first say that I'm very happy with the software and find your pricing for purchase and extended updates very fair. I use the Editor plus myself. I tend to put your free version on new computers and recommend it, then recommend the paid version when people need more features.

That said, both myself and a client recently got caught updating after the expiration of our license and then having restricted use without realizing that it happened. We both happily extended our license, but it would be better if this didn't happen. I did not get an email requesting renewal or alerting me to the issue. If the client got an email, it didn't register with her mind.

My license had expired March 29.

My problem was probably the client's issue as well. I use PatchMyPC to do updates. It uses your silent update to check for updates on about 300 programs and do silent updates. I use this myself and on clients as it avoids all the PUP issues with updates, trying to install additional software, and keeps software patched for possible security issues.

The problem occurs with silent updates (so no warning), on paid versions of editor.

You have my email address, so I'm not sure why I didn't get an email, but clients should not be surprised by a feature limit when they didn't know they added features after the license ran out. I'm assuming you give security updates after the license expires.

I am not sure how to handle this. Stopping the update for confirmation on a silent update breaks protocol. Perhaps a clear warning when the program is used. I use the program every day (though normally just to read pdfs), and was still caught by surprise. I don't think Email should be the only alert. Perhaps forcing people to click something indicating they don't want to update.

I can exclude PDFEditor from patchmypc if someone doesn't want to extend their license, or even myself if I retire and don't want new features. But, people should not be caught by surprise.

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TrackerSupp-Daniel
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Re: Imperfect update process

Post by TrackerSupp-Daniel » Tue Apr 30, 2019 6:28 pm

Hello sshank,

I am glad to hear that you are enjoying our products, and hope you can continue to do so in the future.

Regarding notifications. As you are probably aware just last year the European GDPR legislation was implemented and that put restrictions on us as a global company, some portions had to do with contacting European clients without express permission from said client. We chose to implement this "opt in" method for all clients regardless of nationality for a number of reasons, the chief reason being that we forsee many governments following the example set by the EU in this legislation.

This in turn meant that we needed to disable notifications, not only promotional emails, but also license reminders, for all clients until they manually opt in to this. We sent out a single notice to every client shortly before doing this, requesting that they log in and opt in to email notifications from us. If you and your users did not do this, that would be why you did not receive any license expiry notification email.

Regarding updates. Our updater has built in functions to check for updates automatically at set intervals. By default the updater will not update beyond what your maintenance covers, however this can be changed. The options you can see here should prevent the updates from being installed automatically if they are not compatible.
image.png
We are going to run some tests to see if we can reproduce this. Could I ask you to send us a screenshot of your updater settings like mine above, and if you remember, could you tell us what version of the Editor you had running before this update?
I would also like to know how you are using PatchMyPC to invoke our updater?

Kind regards,
Daniel McIntyre
Support Technician
Tracker Software Products (Canada) LTD

Sales: +1 (250) 324-1621
Fax: +1 (250) 324-1623

sshank
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Re: Imperfect update process

Post by sshank » Wed May 08, 2019 1:47 am

First off, I'm very sorry for not checking back sooner. I should have after posting an issue.

I'll check my account settings and make sure I've authorized notifications.

My pdfxchangeEditor updater settings are the same as yours. So the issue is not there.

I think, perhaps we are not communicating perfectly. Many Computer consulting firms offer managed services to their clients where they maintain programs and anti-virus, check backups and check for other possible issues to keep computers running efficiently. In order to facilitate this, many software companies offer them a link to a silent install which does not utilize the built in software updater. PatchMyPC makes use of this. So, they bypass your inside the program updater.

This is normally great. For example, I always disable the Adobe flash updater and do not want to use it or have my clients use it because there are always opt out checks that must be made or else you get ask toolbars or McAfee security installed on your machine. I want to avoid having my clients install crapware. Again, your company is not foisting crapware on us, but other companies do.

The way PatchMyPC or other updaters like Ninite work, is they check what programs you have against their update list on then implement the silent install from the vendors. So, while I wrote this reply, I ran PatchmyPC. It found that my Logitec Setpoint keyboard software, Calibre library manager, OneDrive, and Firefox all had available updates. All of these were downloaded and installed while I wrote this reply without my intervention.

I don't know which version I had before the install, but probably the last one before the last update - so the penultimate version, since I keep my software updated regularly.

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TrackerSupp-Daniel
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Re: Imperfect update process

Post by TrackerSupp-Daniel » Wed May 08, 2019 10:28 pm

Hello sshank,

Thank you for clarifying the process.

I am curious how this is expected to work if the application is designed to take our updater out of the mix? The only way to check the license key and find if a new version is incompatible is by using our updater, so if our updater itself is not being run, IE: if this utility is instead downloading the executable and running it directly, there is no opportunity for a check to happen, so it would not be possible to check the state of the license.

We have no intention of releasing the method to determine which versions a license is valid for, so if you need an update utility to check the key and ensure that it is a valid upgrade before installation, you will need to use our updater 100% of the time. If using any update process other than our updater, you will likely see this issue any time that a valid key is not present. Unfortunately this is not an issue within our software, nor one within PatchMyPC, this is how both applications are intended to work.

Kind regards,
Daniel McIntyre
Support Technician
Tracker Software Products (Canada) LTD

Sales: +1 (250) 324-1621
Fax: +1 (250) 324-1623

sshank
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Re: Imperfect update process

Post by sshank » Thu May 09, 2019 7:55 pm

Daniel,

As I wrote in my original post:
I am not sure how to handle this. Stopping the update for confirmation on a silent update breaks protocol. Perhaps a clear warning when the program is used. I use the program every day (though normally just to read pdfs), and was still caught by surprise. I don't think Email should be the only alert. Perhaps forcing people to click something indicating they don't want to update.
I do understand that this issue might not be worth dealing with. Notice my topic was "Imperfect update process", not bad or buggy. However, your company does provide a silent update download which in 2 cases updated people in such a way as to disable features. Patch my PC is running the update that you provide. I suggested possible solutions:
1. break the silent rule and demand intervention. This is used by some companies. It is also imperfect.
2. A MUCH bigger more obtrusive notice within the program requiring someone to click something saying they don't want future updates. That would have grabbed my attention and I would have updated.

Another might be, that if an update occurs subsequent to expiration, causing loss of features, then offer the ability to reverse the update to an earlier version.

It is also possible that your programmers might come up with something better than I've thought of. Or, perhaps, not deal with it at all. I just wanted to alert you to the issue.

I have updated my email preferences. You were right, neither of the email options were checked, so I didn't get a notification. I sent a screenshot to my client so she could also update her preferences.

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Re: Imperfect update process

Post by Paul - Tracker Supp » Thu May 09, 2019 9:59 pm

Hi sshank, Dan asked me to take a look at this discussion.
You mentioned this:
However, your company does provide a silent update download which in 2 cases updated people in such a way as to disable features.
I am unclear on what you mean by this. The only installers we offer are the ones that can be downloaded from the website, or via Tracker Updater, and they use the exact same files. I believe that what you are referring to above is a case of Tracker Updater being the agent to install the same installer files used everywhere. Perhaps I am misunderstanding what you mean here as all our installers, whether downloaded from a web page or pulled by Tracker Updater, are identical in all respects.

How does your download management application (PatchMyPC) determine whether a new version is available? Does it connect to a website and parse a downloads page for version numbers, or perhaps these other companies provide some sort of RSS feed or similar?
I am not sure how to handle this. Stopping the update for confirmation on a silent update breaks protocol. Perhaps a clear warning when the program is used.
I would say if you do not like the way Tracker Updater works with respect to updates without maintenance (remembering that these CAN be disabled), then perhaps you can make use of this fact; the major version installer names do not change, installers will always be available using our domain name and the installer name. https://<domain>/<installer name>

For the V8 Editor it looks like this for example

Code: Select all

https://www.tracker-software.com/EditorV8.x64.msi
https://www.tracker-software.com/EditorV8.x86.msi
https://www.tracker-software.com/PDFXVE8.zip
Turn off Tracker Updater (can be done using a Group Policy) then push updates to your clients only when you deem appropriate?

Am I missing the point of what you are looking for here? If so I apologize, I am not entirely clear what you are looking for from us regards this.

Paul
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If posting files to this forum - you must archive the files to a ZIP, RAR or 7z file or they will not be uploaded - thank you.

Best regards

Paul O'Rorke
Tracker Support North America
http://www.tracker-software.com

sshank
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Re: Imperfect update process

Post by sshank » Thu May 09, 2019 11:34 pm

I will try again to make this clear.
Forget your updater. - Pretend you do not have it.
Your download program has command line options. Therefore, it is possible to write a script that downloads your software and runs it without user intervention and even on a timer that sets a Windows Task scheduler item.

For example, here are some of your command line options for your install downloads:
  • /NoDesktopShortcuts - Do not create shortcut on desktop.
    /NoUpdater - Do not install updater service.
    /NoViewInBrowsers - Do not configure to open PDF files inside browsers.
    /NoSetAsDefault - Do not set as default application for PDF files.
    /NoProgramsMenuShortcuts - Do not create program menu group for installed application and their components.
    /KeyFile:[file] - Pass [file (which should be a .xcvault file downloaded from Tracker Software) in as your license file.
]

Here is a link to a chocolatey script package for your software. It will allow you to understand better how this is done.
https://chocolatey.org/packages/PDFXcha ... /7.0.328.2

I don't use Chocolatey, but I'm sure the basics are the same.

PatchMyPC has a list of about 300 programs it can check. It will scan a users system for any of those programs and determine which version they have. They have worked out the command line options to be able to silently download and install those (or update) without any additional software being offered, or options for the user to deal with.

So, when I setup a computer, I can copy patchmypc to the new user's computer, add the config file I've created, and tell it to go. It will then download and install 9-14 programs I want on that client's computer while I do something else. Programs like Coretemp, 7zip, pdfxchange editor, Thunderbird, any of a large number of browsers, flash, Java, OneDrive, and many more.

The program will also check for installed programs on a system and update those which have updates available.

So, it gets the file from your website. It does not use your updater mechanism.

This is very commonly used by Managed Services companies and IT departments to keep client's or employees software up to date. It can be set on an automatic process or be quickly handled on a manual basis. It relies on the download and command line options provided by the software maker.

The imperfection I found, was that myself and a client both had our purchased pdfxchange editor dropped to the trial version without our being aware that this would happen. We both happily bought 2 years of additional maintenance and it didn't create any lasting problem. We both feel we are getting a good value. We are not upset or outraged or angry.

However, the fact that this happened twice in a single month that I know about, is an indication that things are not as perfect as they could be. People should not have features disabled without warning. Also, the automatic updating problem advantages are too good to pass up. Neither of us were aware that our licenses had expired. I updated my profile to include update notice and notification of new software.

I've also provided a few ideas and probably if your programmers brainstorm a little, you'll find some way to mitigate this imperfection.

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TrackerSupp-Daniel
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Re: Imperfect update process

Post by TrackerSupp-Daniel » Fri May 10, 2019 12:30 am

Hello sshank,
sshank wrote:
Thu May 09, 2019 11:34 pm
Forget your updater. - Pretend you do not have it.
This is the most critical aspect of the process however. As myself and Paul have mentioned, the updater is required in order to check license validity against an update. If the Updater is not installed, or if an installer is run directly, as PatchMyPC is doing, then the license check is completely bypassed. There is no way to prevent incompatible updates from happening without using our updater for the entire update process.

To break this down:
~~~ When using our updater and the default settings are in place) ~~~
1. the updater checks for available updates
2. the updater checks if the updates are compatible with maintenance plan
3. if the update is compatible with maintenance plan the installer is downloaded and the updater continues to step 4, otherwise the process stops here and will begin again on step 1 in 2 weeks (the default update timer).
~~~ If using any method that is not the updater, start here ~~~
4. Downloaded installer is run, and new version is installed as per the GUI or switches provided.
5. If no valid license was provided through the GUI (not available silently) or /KeyFile, than the installation is completed as a "Free" user.

We have been discussing this with the Development team leaders throughout this process, and do not intend to change how this system works. If you wish to avoid installing the incorrect updates, you will need to use our updater, or manage the installations as Paul suggested, only offering the updates when you know the licenses are valid.

Kind regards,
Daniel McIntyre
Support Technician
Tracker Software Products (Canada) LTD

Sales: +1 (250) 324-1621
Fax: +1 (250) 324-1623

sshank
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Re: Imperfect update process

Post by sshank » Fri May 10, 2019 7:07 pm

If you maintain the current process, how about a bigger more clear popup Window at say a week or two before expiration that requires some click, and then again upon expiration, making sure the user is aware that any future updates will revert to a trial version and should be avoided if they don't want a watermark etc.

You don't want to become Nagware, I understand that. But as more and more people are moving to some kind of managed services / automatic updaters, you also don't want people losing program features without knowing that was going to happen. Giving people a negative surprise is not something you want, but it happened to me and a client last month.

On my own account, the profile was set to No notifications, and I would not have set it that way myself because I like and support and recommend your software.

I do appreciate your taking the time to consider, discuss with programmers and respond to my issue.

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TrackerSupp-Daniel
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Re: Imperfect update process

Post by TrackerSupp-Daniel » Fri May 10, 2019 7:49 pm

Hello sshank,

Unfortunately a popup window like you have described is unlikely, as you have said, we do not wish to become nagware. Beyond that, we have a large number of corporate clients wherein multiple thousands of users can operate with the same corporate license key. A warning like this would bother all of their users one by one, none of which can actually manage the license, causing much grief and lost time altogether, or requiring additional setup from their respective administrators to prevent the warning from occurring.

We most certainly do not want to start causing our clients to have wasted time simply from using our software. A simple dialog is certainly only a few seconds of quick reading, but if you multiply that across one of our 75000 user corporate licenses, you can see how many working hours could be lost by our clients. All to warn about an potential issue that is easily avoided by using the update options we already provide.

I too appreciate having a good discussion about this, I've learned a few things throughout this process myself, so thank you as well. However I must call an end to this discussion, as it is now no longer something that we will be considering.

Kind regards,
Daniel McIntyre
Support Technician
Tracker Software Products (Canada) LTD

Sales: +1 (250) 324-1621
Fax: +1 (250) 324-1623

sshank
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Re: Imperfect update process

Post by sshank » Thu May 16, 2019 10:13 pm

I know you wanted to end this, and I agree, but thought I'd let you know how easily the problem can be handled from MY end.

I have been doing maintenance on lots of machines this week including lots with PDFXchange editor and patchmypc. Now that I know there is an issue, it is very simple and quick to check the license. If it is paid and current, I can do the update along with the other software that need updating. If it is free, I can do the update. If the license is expired, I can uncheck pdfxchange editor from the update list.

Just thought this might be useful if others faced a similar issue and thank you again for a great product and taking the time to thoroughly examine this issue.

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Will - Tracker Supp
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Re: Imperfect update process

Post by Will - Tracker Supp » Fri May 17, 2019 7:39 am

:)
If posting files to this forum, you must archive the files to a ZIP, RAR or 7z file or they will not be uploaded.
Thank you.

Best regards

Will Travaglini
Tracker Support (Europe)
Tracker Software Products Ltd.
http://www.tracker-software.com

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