The majority of the contents in this guide apply to both StudioPlus Spectra AND myStratus Desktop.
In most cases, instructions referring to "Spectra" also apply to myStratus Desktop.


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Tips for using OnLocation - Depreciated 2023

NOTE: This feature is available in the Professional and Enterprise version of Spectra.

Spectra OnLocation is designed to allow studios to take Spectra on location for image capture and order entry. While the software operates for the most part as it it does in the studio, there are some special considerations for managing your OnLocation database.

User licenses

One-User OnLocation allows you to check out one OnLocation database and take it to single remote location. 

Need Two OnLocation Databases -  allows you to go to check out two different databases.

Multi-users at one Onlocation -  allows you to check out one OnLocation database but have many users access the same data.  In order to use multiple computers at your remote site, you'll need to set up a temporary local area network (LAN) so the computers can share resources. Spectra is not networkable over the Internet, so simply having wireless Internet access on each individual computer will not work. Note:  Wireless technology is advancing all the time, but networking Spectra over a wireless network is not advised.

Networking OnLocation

Spectra OnLocation uses a Microsoft Access formatted database that can be shared just like your main Spectra data in the studio. Consult Installing Spectra on a Network for more information. It is advisable to create an independent, shared drive location on the computer you intend to use as the Spectra "server" on location for both the database and your images. To avoid confusion or overlap, you will want to use different drive mapping letters on location. While the checkout process automatically sets the data path for the checked out database on the computer that actually performs the checkout, you will have to use the Database Utility to Attach to Different Data Files on any additional computers you are taking with you to share Spectra OnLocation. Similarly, you will have to reconnect the additional computers when they are back in the studio (if they are used there) using the Database Utility.

Data Files

As you may have noticed already, the Spectra database file is named "SamDB.mdb" (you may not see the .mdb depending on the settings in your operating system). An OnLocation database is no exception. The important difference is where the database is located. When you check in an OnLocation database, the changes are synced to your main Spectra database in the studio. Once completed, the database is renamed. It still has SamDB in it's name, but a long number date code is also added. It is advisable to perform backups on OnLocation databases before checking them back in. Just be sure to not mix up an OnLocation backup with a main studio database backup! However, the database will be preserved by renaming just in case.

Managing Check Outs

When a database is checked out through OnLocation, it is stamped with the time and date it was checked out. Both the main studio data and the OnLocation data store this information. OnLocation was designed so that you can check out an OnLocation database more than once. However, this does not mean you have two OnLocation databases that can be checked back in. Only the last database checked out can be checked back in. The intention behind this feature is that if the database or laptop was lost for any reason, you could still use OnLocation again by simply checking out OnLocation again. Of course, you would still lose all the data from the lost database, but this is a worst-case scenario. You will need to make sure no one at your studio location checks out the database before you bring back your remote one and sync it back in. If you have multiple OnLocation licenses, be extra careful about which database you are checking out to each computer. It may be useful to name the OnLocation entries in the maintenance for the computer that will usually be used for that OnLocation instance and only allow that computer to check out that instance. It may also be advisable to physically mark the computer with a post-it or label as to its OnLocation status.

Portable USB Drives

While it is possible to check out a Spectra OnLocation database to a portable USB drive, it is not wise to do so. It is important that if you are using a USB device to store your Spectra database, you properly "stop" the device before removing it. Consult this article from Microsoft for more information: Safely remove devices from your computer. Failing to do so could corrupt the database. A USB drive may be more difficult to manage and may be more easily lost or stolen.

Reduced Menu and Features

Spectra is designed specifically for servicing groups like churches or schools and is streamlined so not all of the regular features are available in the checked out OnLocation database. Most notably, the Hub menu at the top no longer shows Production or Dashboard. There are a number of preferences and maintenance items that cannot be set in a checked out database. In addition, there are a number of reports and other features that are not available in a checked out database.

Session Folders

Spectra has the option to create session numbers when a session is created. Because an OnLocation database could potentially assign different session numbers in a checked out database, that feature is disabled in a Spectra database that contains an OnLocation license. It may also be desirable to turn off automatic session folder creation for a database that can be used on location. When you check in an OnLocation database, you will also have the option to copy session image folders at the same time. However, to prevent any possibility of overwriting images with the same name back at the studio, the OnLocation check-in process will not copy folders that already exist in the main studio. You can copy them over manually in Windows Explorer after determining that no duplicate image names are going to cause overwriting of original images.

Using Studio Images on Location

The image copy process for OnLocation is one-way and occurs during check-in. Imagine how long it would take to copy all your studio images each time you check out OnLocation. Most likely, the laptop you are using for OnLocation does not have the same storage capacity you have in the studio. However, you can manually copy session image folders over to your OnLocation computer to use in a sales presentation. Note that any network resources for music or images in the studio will not be available OnLocation unless you also copy those over and reset your slideshow settings for that session while on location. Keep in mind that any changes made to images while on location will need to be manually copied over as stated above.

Credit Card Processing

Because credit card processing integration in Spectra is dependent on an Internet connection, you will need to be connected to the Internet in order to take credit cards when on location. The settings for your account are stored in the database and can be used just like back in the studio. Note that you will need properly configured hardware with you to swipe cards while you are at the remote location. If there is no Internet access at your remote location, you can still create and save payments and process them later when you get connected. The 3-digit security code that is contained in a credit card swipe cannot be stored. Those transactions will need to be processed without that code later.

Updating and Upgrading

It is important that the Spectra version, volume, and release installed on your OnLocation check out computer matches what is installed in the studio. Most likely, you won't even be allowed to open Spectra to perform the check out if it doesn't. This is important to remember for any additional computers you plan to take with you, especially if those computers are not actively used in the studio. You will be unable to use additional computers if they are not on the same version and release, and most likely you will not be able to run a software update while in the field. If you do have Internet access while on location, you should be able to download those updates from our website. Also, it is best if you don't update or upgrade Spectra in the studio while you have an OnLocation database checked out. Wait until all OnLocation databases are checked in to perform any upgrades or updates.

See also

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