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10 Reasons Dentrix Installers are Borked

After many years of using Dentrix v11, we have finally decided to grab the cobra by the neck and upgrade to Dentrix G4(v14).   We have spent weeks preparing for this magical event by upgrading our hardware to handle the apparently colossal load of computational power that modern day dental care requires.

We scheduled our training time with a certified Dentrix trainer for a day the office would normally be closed.   I got all the hardware upgraded (a story for another day).  And I set aside a weekend to do the upgrade before training.

G4: Inspired

Dentrix has for some time now felt the need to make their version updates something of a media production.   They spare virtually no expense in creating tantalizing marketing materials for their customers to gleefully open on upgrade day.    Of course, everyone knows that only the crazy and uninitiated actually install updates on Day 1.  Those of us that have already donated our quart of blood to DTX HQ, usually wait six or seven months to install.  (I think after the first update is produced is usually a good sign.)

I’m not sure what “Inspired” Dentrix HQ to name this release, but I have to say that it’s a lot better than “Youniverse,” remember that stinker?

Anyways, I can get over the name.   I can get over the glossy printed materials that head straight to the recycling bin.   But what I can’t get over is the SUPER CRAPPY LAME-ASS INSTALLER they make us use.   Now, by “us,” I’m referring to Technical support individuals who handle the upgrades.  I know there are a few Dr’s out there who handle their own updates, and I bet even you don’t need the restrictive hand-holding that these installers impose.

Seriously Dentrix,  have you actually used your installers?   Do you have a new Windows 7 machine (can’t buy XP anymore, shouldn’t buy Vista)?   What is your freaking fascination with proprietary software and the crazy restrictions they impose?!

10. Superfluous annoying questions

Maybe your “main” installer can ask if I’ve read the installation instructions, but the server install should have to ask, afterall, I’m installing it from the server which means I’ve already installed the Server Edition. Same thing for the machine requirements test.   How about this?  Let me install it on any machine I like, if it runs too slow, I’ll be able to know.

9. DTX Mobile

LOL, Palm app compatibility.  <snort>  They don’t even make Palm devices anymore.   There’s this new thing, called an eye-phone.  You should look into it.   I hear they’re pretty popular.   It would be awesome to be able to check your schedule from your iPhone.  Just sayin.

Here’s a whole subgroup of reasons that involve Dentrix’s “Required Installs” — Not Optional,  REQUIRED.  TIP:  Hey Dtx Crew,  how about showing me a screen that lists things that don’t seem like their installed with links to the vendors who supply that software.   Then, I can decide what to install or not.

8. Adobe Reader 8.1

Do you install this on your corporate machines there at Dentrix HQ?   Have you ever noticed what a resource hog it is and how their updater will  install crap on your system without asking you?   It’s 2010, so here’s a tip:  Adobe Reader is crap for quickly reading PDF files. Check out FREE software like SumatraPDF or the Foxit Reader.   Seriously, they’re FREE and FAST!  Don’t you want Dentrix to seem fast?  Also, Adobe Reader is up to version 9.4 now.

7. Flash 9

Um, it’s almost 2011 — Flash 10.something has been out for ages.    Is it really required? or is it that you just want to slow our machines down on purpose.   How about letting us technical people decide?

6. Guru Limited Edition

WHY IS THIS REQUIRED?!  Perhaps you could strongly suggest that I install it, but I do not want this on all my machines. Oh, I know…you’re trying to sell it to me.

6.1 Quicktime – Thanks, but I’ll install that myself.

6.2 Microsoft Media Player 9.0 –  Guess what? Windows 7 warns you that this is a bad idea.  Probably because they’re on version 12 now.  12!!  Did I mention how you can’t buy Windows XP anymore?

5.  Desktop Icon Bonanza

OMG, does someone get a bonus for every icon they install on my desktop?   ‘Cause they’re working overtime.

Here’s an idea: Remember the Dentrix Quick Launcher .NET thing you forced us to install with v11?  How about a single icon that opens that.  Or, better yet – opens the most recently opened module.  Holy cow, that would be awesome.

4. DirectX v9

ZOMG, do you know that DirectX v11 is included with every Windows 7 machine?   Do you install writers know how to check for existing versions before they start crapping all over a clean windows install?

UPDATE: Apparently DX9 is required if you want the totally awesome and crazy slow 3D mouth view to impress everyone with.   Did you know that an iPhone can do a whole 3D game with a tiny 1Ghz processor and Dentrix requires 2.5+ Ghz processors?

3. No eServices DVD.

You saw fit to include install disks (because you still don’t have a download site for all your software) for G2 and G3 (which are not useful), but failed to include a disk with the latest eServices installers (which you created a whole book for and mention in the G4 installer).

Update: My bad.  Turns out that eClaims & QuickBill are embedded into Dentrix now.  Setup was easy after a 5 min. phone call.

We use a lot of your eServices.  We pay a lot of money each month to you for those services.   Would it have killed you to throw in a disc with the latest versions in there?

TIP: There’s this thing called “The Inter-net.”  It lets my computer download things from your computer. Even really large things like…oh, I don’t know, install disk .ISO’s.   That way I could get whatever I needed, whenever I want.  Oh, and it’s self serve.  Amazon S3 bandwidth is pennies, PENNIES! I tell you!



2. Required Mapped Drives:

I realize that you guys have been drinking the Microsoft Koolade for a LONG time, *AND* you’ve hung in there with that CTREE database over a decade longer than any reasonable person would have.  But c’mon!  //SERVER/DENTRIX/DATA is such and awesome way to say where my datafiles are.   We used it with Dentrix v11 for YEARS!  without incident.   Now, I find that the G4 installer requires a mapped drive.

“Mapped Drive?  Does Windows still do that?!”   Here’s a tip for your development team, although I know you’re “in development” with a fancy SQL version of your software most likely using MS’s super expensive SQLServer sofware (do you get a kickback?).

Couple of things to mention here:

  • SQLite – free, file-based SQL database with tons and tons of production uses (it’s built into every iPhone and Mac).  No commercial licensing fees.   It could have made you sooo happy, years ago.
  • PostgreSQL – free, hard-core SQL database.   Runs on windows, linux, mac, etc.   No commercial licensing fees to pass onto your customers.   Seriously, it’s free.   WHY in the frack would you use SQL server over Postgres?  I’m not mentioning mySQL since it was acquired by Oracle and now they charge a substantial commercial license for it.

1.  And the #1 reason Dentrix Installers are Borked is…

They wasted my time.

Yes, I know.  You’re thinking, that’s not a problem with the installer.   But it is.  Here’s my dreamworld scenario:

  1. I backup my old data
  2. I install the server edition and wait for the upgrade to complete
  3. I go to each machine in our office and run the lean and mean workstation installer located on my server now.
  4. These installers do what they are asked without asking me any questions
  5. There is no step 5.

Intead, I have this wonderful experience:

  1. go to each machine and map a drive.
  2. Babysit the the installer and stop it from crufting up my clean windows installs with bloatware and things I don’t need.
  3. And finally, remove all the desktop icons.

This is wasting my time and my Dr’s money.

I hate wasting my time, and my wife, the Dr., hates wasting money.

So, cut it out!

PS:  Yes, this is a rant.  Yes, I know it’s hard to write a good installer.  I have written installers in the past.  TIP: Take half of your design budget for releases and spend it on top notch installer engineers.    It will be money well spent.   No one reads the manuals — but everyone uses the installer.

PPS> Don’t even get me started on oplocks.

Posted in Dentrix.

3 Responses

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  1. Aaron C. de Bruyn says

    It’s not quite as bad in the Eaglesoft world. I can deploy it by calling ‘msiexec /i /qn \\server\deployment\eaglesoft\eaglesoft.msi’. No questions asked.

    The annoying part is that it installs some cruft–and that cruft prevents the MSI from installing silently. If it did that, I could push it out automatically to every workstation via Group Policy.

    I really wish Patterson would fix their ‘You need to run as an administrator in order to take x-rays or intra-oral cam pictures’ issue. They also like to store preferences in the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE registry hive–so ‘administrative’ eaglesoft users also have to be windows admins in order to save global preferences.


  2. nathan sparks says

    Try Open Dental, and thank you for the great marketing link. You can also do a simple msi deployment with OD, or in a peer to peer environment simply click on setup.exe in a shared folder. Update are handled with a single prompt to the client and the updated files are silently transferred in about 15 seconds or less from the server.

  3. Aakash says

    You seem to be a Dentrix expert, so I’ll throw out a question here that has me stumped:
    I have installed Dentrix in a number of operatories in my wife’s office (hooked up to the ‘server’ over a gigabit wired network). Dentrix in the ops works fine after installation, but reboot/logoff once and every subsequent attempt to start Dentrix results in “Unable to open database file”.

    I’m stumped! I ran ep.exe to update paths, I have a ‘mapped’ drive pointing to the data folder on the Dentrix server – what more could it want? Neither seems to fix the problem. The other thing I noticed using Process Monitor is that Dentrix is trying to open a file called “C:\Program Files (x86)\Dentrix\DataLok.dat”. If they’re indeed using a lock file to control write access to their flat-file DB, shouldnt it be pointing to the mapped server drive (Z:\Data in my case) instead??

    Any ideas would be much appreciated!