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Best Practices for Upgrading to Datacap 9.0

For anyone who attended this year’s World of Watson conference, you probably already know about some of the game-changing features that are now available in Datacap 9.  For those of you who are still on Datacap 8.0.1 or 8.1, now is the time to think about upgrading to version 9 so that your organization can take advantage of things like cognitive capture, mobile capture, and automatic redaction.

Upgrading from Datacap 8.0.1 or 8.1 to version 9.0 can seem like a daunting task at first.  IBM spent over 2 years developing Datacap 9, so moving to Datacap 9 should be treated like any other major enterprise software migration.  When embarking on a Datacap 9 upgrade project, it is important to address the following key areas:

Infrastructure

When upgrading the infrastructure, you should look at upgrading some environments first and leave other environments running the old version of Datacap. This will help you spread out the risk and allow for production support work to continue on the old system. When upgrading to Datacap 9, you will need to spin up new production servers instead of upgrading the existing ones (but for lower, non-Production environments, in-place upgrades are fine). As a fall back, you can always roll back to the old production servers in the event that you experience any issues during “go live”.

Database

First, you should spend some time analyzing the Admin, Engine, and Fingerprint schemas and data using the Datacap 9 create scripts.  If you have customized your Datacap implementation, we recommend that you create custom database scripts to wipe and recreate the databases as well as custom scripts to upgrade the schemas and data to 9.0.  IBM provides base create scripts for Datacap 9 as part of the installation package, so you can easily take those scripts and build your customizations into them.  In terms of wiping and recreating databases, the IBM documentation recommends that you start with empty Admin, Engine, and Fingerprint databases.

The database migration will be a slow-going process, but this is the best way to ensure that custom database components remain intact without loss of functionality. It is important that you conduct reviews along the way to ensure that nothing was missed.  Having these scripts on hand will also prove useful for new development work in Datacap 9.

Fingerprints

Fingerprints that were created in 8.0.1 or 8.1 are compatible with 9.0.  The easiest way to migrate them over is to copy the fingerprint directory for each application from the old system to the new 9.0 application folder.

Rulesets

For each application, you will need to copy all of the .rul files from the old system to the 9.0 application folder.  You should then review the rulesets for errors in Datacap Studio in 9.0.  You can then replace any deprecated actions, fill in any blank or invalid parameters, and correct any errors in each ruleset for each application in Datacap Studio.  Datacap Studio is a great tool for manually reviewing each application as it flags issues in the rulesets tab for user review.

Custom Actions

You will need to manually upgrade any custom actions to use the latest 9.0 APIs.  This will entail recompiling the custom action DLLs against Datacap 9 and then deploying and registering those updated DLLs on the Datacap 9 servers. You should then plan on exhaustively regression testing the custom actions to ensure no loss of functionality.  Please be aware that this may be a slow and tedious process if you have an extensive number of custom actions.

DCO

Upgrading the DCO is very straightforward.  You can manually copy the DCO XML file for each application into the Datacap 9 application folder.

Taskmaster Web

If you are using Taskmaster Web for your user-facing functions (Web Scan, Fixup, Verify), it is important that you spend the time up front deciding whether to migrate to Datacap Navigator.  While Taskmaster Web is still supported by IBM, we know that it won’t be forever – and IBM’s development focus is definitely on Navigator moving forward.  However, if you – like many of our clients – have invested significant time and money customizing Taskmaster Web to meet the needs of your Datacap users, you may decide that you want to preserve that functionality when you upgrade to 9 (knowing that you will likely have to move to Navigator at some point down the road).

If you do decide to migrate your existing Taskmaster Web customizations, the approach will require that your developers port over the source code for any custom tmweb.net user interfaces.  You may also find that it is easier to re-create all of the base application configuration from scratch. This configuration includes elements such as shortcuts, groups, workflows, and the like.  While it is possible to script some or all of the data since this is all stored in the Admin DB, there are still some steps that you’ll need to complete manually, like updating the task.set.xml file settings that aren’t stored in the Admin DB and don’t always port over cleanly.

Regardless of which approach you take, you will be served well by creating a detailed migration document with screen shots and detailed instructions to ensure that important configuration steps were not overlooked.

Summary

If you follow the steps outlined above, you will be well on your way to a successful (and hopefully pain free) upgrade to Datacap 9. Then the fun begins, as you will be able to leverage all of the new features in Datacap 9!

Director

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