True Confessions of a ToolBook Developer
am what Marketing folks call an early adopter. That means that I love
being on the bleeding edge of technology. I am always the first on the
block to have the latest electronic gizmo. Software upgrades are no
exception. So, when I hear that there is an upgrade for ToolBook, my first
inclination is to get it installed as soon as possible and start using it
right away. Ouch! I have learned the hard way that can be a very
Does that mean
that you shouldn’t upgrade right away? Not necessarily. What it does mean
is that your upgrade needs to be very deliberate and well planned. Peter
has helped my company develop an upgrade process that assures we always
have working product while moving forward with ToolBook upgrades.
That way we can take advantage of improvements in the product without
bringing our business to its knees. What follows are Peter’s
recommendations for upgrading to a new version of ToolBook.
-Robin McDermott, Resource Engineering, Inc.
12 Tips to Keep You Sane During a ToolBook Upgrade
Never install upgrades on your
development machine until you have
thoroughly tested (see point 8 for tips on how to thoroughly test) the
upgrade with your existing projects and are happy that they are
functioning. That means you should install the upgrade on a "test"
Always get your projects completely up-to-date in the old version of
the program before upgrading. That way, if you need to revert back to
them, you can be sure that all content changes are in the earlier version
of the project.
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Always archive a copy of your completely updated projects in the old
version before upgrading them. For extra safety, keep a copy on a CD.
To upgrade your existing projects always use
the scriptwalking tool (aka the version updater)
if it is available. Typically, to upgrade to minor version changes
(TBK 8.1 to 8.2, TBK 8.5 to 8.6 or TBK 2004 to 2004 SP1 or SP2) you will not
need the scriptwalker. For example, just open your TB 8.5 project in TB 8.6 and
you are upgraded!
Do not author any new programs using the upgraded version until you
are satisfied that it is functioning properly. “Functioning
properly” means that the upgrade is fully tested with all of your special code, toolbook add-ons,
etc.). If you need to author a new project before you make your complete
cutover to the new version, use the old version of ToolBook - you can
always scriptwalk it later.
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Before you upgrade, if you depend on
third party products, make sure
you check with the developers of those products on upgrades to their
products. Keep in mind that the add-on developer may not have gotten the
upgrade any sooner than you did and is going through the same upgrade
testing process. Allow adequate time for the developer to upgrade the
ToolBook Developer Add-On
Products and Decaf
Two of my products, the Quiz Randomizer and the Taquin Question
Object, will require updated versions for ToolBook Decaf.
Updated versions of these tools will be available by June 30 at the
Tips for testing
- Always test in instructor/authoring, reader,
AND runtime (make sure you are running the runtime version of ToolBook and not
just running in reader mode). If you are
exporting, test locally and through your LMS/off of your server after
exported. Run these tests with one "typical" book and assure that
you are completely satisfied with the results before you take time
upgrading other books.
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The more code/specialized functionality in your project, the more
you will need to test. Chances are most of the kinks in standard
functionality have been worked out in beta testing. It helps to keep a
list of specialized functionality so you know exactly what and where you need to
If you have released versions of your programs that work fine,
why upgrade the newly released version
of ToolBook if you don't have to? Robin's company, Resource
Engineering, is still using courses developed in ToolBook 8.6 on their
QualityTrainingPortal site. The benefits of upgrading to TBK 2004
were not compelling enough to go through the hassles associated with the
upgrade (they have well over 10,000 content pages that would need to be
thoroughly tested. However, Decaf is definitely worthy of the
upgrade so for the past several months they have been preparing for the
transition once decaf is released and tested. They are taking this
opportunity to also update the look of their programs with a new
interface. The logic is that if you have to go through a complete
test of all pages, you might as well do the upgrade now.
If you don't have a compelling reason to
upgrade immediately, why not wait a
month or two to give the update some time in the field. Keep in
touch with the
listserve as that is where you will hear about any little quirks
with the new version that might help you avoid the same issues.
Read the release
notes - so much information is provided in those notes yet I am
sure only about 20% of ToolBook Developers read. What you learn from
those notes could save you hours of aggravation.
If you discover something that is odd, new,
different about the upgrade version, let others know.
Share your discoveries with your
fellow developers on the ToolBook
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