How do I create a "sandbox" environment to use for test or training purposes?

This article describes how to create a test or training environment, commonly referred to as a "sandbox" environment.

  1. Make a back-up copy of the production back-end database on the server after verifying that all users have logged off the system.  For a Microsoft Access back-end database, simply make a copy of the back-end database file and rename the file.  For the SQL Server back-end database, make a backup copy of the back-end database and attach it as a new database name using SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS).  In both cases, rename the new database copy to identify it as the sandbox and store the sandbox copy on the same machine as the production copy so you can use the same activation code.

  2. If the back-end database is SQL Server, create a new System DSN on the client PC that references the new back-end database as the default database.

  3. Make a copy of the front-end database on a client PC.  The front-end database resides in the C:\Program Files (x86)\Catalyst folder on the client PC and has a file name like Catalyst vx.xx.accdb, Catalyst vx.xx_SQL.accdb or Catalyst Pharma vx.xx.accdb depending on the version.  

  4. Rename the front-end database copy you created in step 3 to identify it as the sandbox copy.

  5. Make a copy of the Catalyst MFG desktop shortcut and rename it to identify it as the sandbox copy.

  6. Right-click on the sandbox desktop shortcut and select Properties from the shortcut menu.  On the shortcut Properties window, change the file name in the target path to the name of the sandbox front-end database copy from step 4.

  7. Open the sandbox front-end database using the desktop shortcut you created in step 5.

  8. After Catalyst opens, select Relink Company Database from the Tools tab and relink to the sandbox back-end database you created in step 1.

  9. Select the Company Master from the Data Maintenance tab. On the System page, select 'Sandbox' from the System Environment drop-down list.  This sets the application title to display “Catalyst Manufacturing – Sandbox Environment” the next time the sandbox database is opened to make it easier for users to distinguish between the different environments.

  10. Repeat steps 2 through 6 for each client PC.  Alternatively, you can simply copy the sandbox desktop shortcut and front-end database you created on the original client PC to the respective folders on the other client PCs.

You now have a copy of the production database you can open separately and use for test or training purposes.  

To refresh the sandbox environment, all you need to do is repeat step 1 and 9.  This will replace the sandbox copy of the back-end database with the most recent production copy and reassign the system environment variable to 'Sandbox'.  It will not be necessary to repeat the remaining steps as long as you're using the same server and the name of the new sandbox copy is the same as the old.

After establishing a sandbox environment for a user, please advise them to be careful about not accidentally opening up the sandbox instead of the production environment and vice-versa.  As a precaution, it may be advisable to establish the sandbox environment on separate PCs used for test or training purposes only or employ some other method to prevent a user from accidentally using the incorrect environment. 

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