So it seems that my life lately has been SBA based. It just happens like that I guess. You get sidetracked on a product and want to completely digest the whole thing. Such is the case of Microsoft Office Small Business Accounting 2006 – or SBA2006 for short. In trying to really get behind the product I have been faced with the very many shortcomings that it has to offer…oh, I mean features! And, well, there are a lot! Not a bad thing considering the product is new, built by a software company that is trying to put accounting in the mix. So, right now, there are certainly some grin-and-grunt issues that you just have to either overlook, code around, or find the answer in the answerless abyss.
As many who know me are aware that I am a strong advocate of running as a non-administrator privilege user. This means, no “good” application should be writing to the system areas like “Program Files”, “Windows”, really – any other folder besides the folders that the user should have access to under their user folder (documents and settings\user). And, I usually find many programs that offend this. So, I look for the Designed for Windows XP certification to ensure that the product is designed to do just that.
Well, I have a retail copy of SBA 2006 right here next to me and it proudly displays that logo. But, something that really bothered me about SBA is that it stores all of the letters and document templates in the Program Files folder. OUCH!! So much for Microsoft following its own certification program. If only I could alert someone there that they are failing their own test. Something that any other vendor would have to certainly correct before getting the logo. Believe me, I have tried to contact them on other occasions about some other software that fails with the logo, but I have NEVER heard back from them. I guess, in disappointment, that it really is just a money grabbing process with no real quality to speak of.
Well, all of that aside. I still hang on to hope. And, with the SBA application, there are some other very promising abilities that exist, well worth hanging on for a while.
Okay, so now here is the problem and answer:
Problem: SBA stores letters and document in the local Program Files folder.
As mentioned this is a security issue from the point that a non-admin user must be given expressed permissions to modify the contents of the \Program Files\Microsoft Small Business\Small Business Accounting folder. I was okay with this for a while (even though it ate at me night and day), until today I accidentally (not sure how) deleted a dll file out of there and I was no longer able to export properly to Word. I quickly resolved the issue and copied the file from another install. But then it ate at me even harder…If I can wipe out a file, so can anyone else, or worse, any of your favorite malicious code can do it as well.
And, the plot thickens as I am now involved in deploying this application across a small business network…How to handle getting the proper versions of quotes, invoices, letters, etc. to everyone for their use. Nothing worse than local copies of templates on a shared system.
Answer: Use the shared “feature” in SBA
Here is an answer that did not come easy. Thanks again to Lutz Roeder’s Reflector and a little sleuth work the problem is solved.
It turns out that SBA was developed to use a shared folder – there just is nothing on how to do it (which is par for the course since even the most basic accounting operations have little to nothing on how to do them) So here we go (You need admin privilege to do these operations):
Go to your Control Panel – Administrative Tools – Microsoft .NET Framework 1.1 Configuration.
Under Tasks, Click on “Manage the Assembly Cache”
Click on “Add an Assembly to the Assembly Cache” or If you have been here before and “unchecked” the “Show this Help topic by default” then you are just seeing a list of configured assemblies at this point – right-click on “Assembly Cache” in the tree view and select “add”.
Browse to the \Program Files\Microsoft Small Business\Small Business Accounting folder and find the SBAUI.DLL (if you have “Show Hidden Files and Folder” turned off, you will need to turn it on prior to this step)
Click on SBAUI.DLL and click “Open”
Exit out of the configuration tool
Run regedit (Start –> Run –> regedit)
Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Small Business Accounting\1.0\InstallRoot
You should find a “Shared” key there.
Double-click on it and enter the location of your choice. (it can be a UNC folder name if you want to avoid drive mapping. I’ve even tried it with a sharepoint document repository…works great!)
Now – if you have already done some adjustments to letters and templates, then you will want to copy (I would leave the original in place just for the future) the “Basic Templates”, “Templates”, and “Letters” folder from the \Program Files\Microsoft Small Business\Small Business Accounting folder to your new location. (May also be a good time to clean it up a bit and get rid of the one’s you don’t want.)
Okay…final step…start up SBA. Go to “Company –> Manage Word Templates”. Click on “Create” and you should see, to your hearts delight that it tells you your template will be saved in the folder you set up. More proof…Click on “Company – Write Letters” (hit next on the wizard) and click "create" there as well as your final proof that the folder is now in a shared location.
I hope that this helps some one out there!
Sept 11 – Added Additional Information
So, once you do this step above, you no longer have help. That's right, hit the F1 or choose help from the menus and nothing!
So, here is the fix for that (again, admin privilege is necessary):
Run Regedit (assume all the normal cautions here)
Navigate to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\HTML Help key
Create a new String Value called SBAHelp.chm
Modify the value to C:\Program Files\Micorosft Small Business\Small Business Accounting\
You now have help again!!
Next challenge is to do all of this through a GPO for install and configure.
But, this could be a wasted venture since Micorosoft today informed me that this particular problem of storing the files in the Program Files folder is fixed in the new version….we shall see. Sometimes their version of fixed is something totally different than you might expect.