Looking to upgrade your Arbortext install?

The data points to consider when planning a software upgrade

When you’re looking to upgrade your Arbortext install from one release to another, you want to get all the information you can about the differences between your version and a random other version. And you want to do a test deployment before rolling it out to everyone in your organization.

Generally speaking, if you are upgrading between point releases in the same major version, you can find all the information you need in the release notes. The release notes detail the differences between each point release and the version associated with that set of release notes. For example, the release notes for 5.3 M200 will detail the differences between F000 and M200, M010 and M200, M020 and M200… right up through M190, the most recent previous release to M200.

Now, if you’re changing between major versions, you need to consider several data points:

Major Minor Release date
Currently installed version 5.3 M050 1/31/2009
Desired target version 5.4 M080 12/17/2010
Latest point release available for major version currently installed 5.3 M220 2/3/2011
First release for major version of desired target 5.4 F000 6/4/2009

As you can see, there’s a lot of overlap in the timeline.  All of this information is available in the Product Calendar.

You’ll want to fetch the release notes from:

  • The desired target version
  • The F000 of the target version
  • The latest point release of your currently installed version

This way, you should be able to glean the differences between your point release and the next major version. You will also be able to see what changes were made to future point releases in your major version after the next major release came out.  And, you’ll be able to see what changes were made in the new major point releases after it came out and as both major versions were in development simultaneously.

There are two last dates to get from the Product Calendar. The dates that:

  • Maintenance Releases Discontinued
  • Standard Support Ends

In the meantime, if you’re following our release notes feed, you know that for most releases, we give you the list of SPRs that get fixed for software releases so you can check and see if your bug got fixed. For deep releases, when the release notes span some 200 pages, we give you the highlights and leave the rest an exercise for the reader.

Arbortext 6.0 release is right around the corner

The prevailing advice and remind everyone about keeping up with releases and how to get through an upgrade with as little impact to your business as possible.

With the 6.0 release of Arbortext coming up very soon, we’ve been seeing a lot of questions about features, changes, and upgrading best practices. We thought we’d gather up all the prevailing advice and remind everyone about keeping up with releases and how to get through an upgrade with as little impact to your business as possible.

Here’s some general information to keep in mind when you’re thinking about upgrading your software version or thinking about maintenance renewal.

Release Support and End of Life

As a general rule, PTC ends support for a previous release 18 months after its successor release comes out (e.g., Arbortext 5.3 was released December 28, 2006; so, 5.2 would have run out of active support by mid-2008). Right now, the product calendar shows Arbortext 5.4 was released June 24, 2009. PTC is making the call that regular maintenance releases for 5.3 will consequently be discontinued from Feb 1, 2011 after M220 is released. PTC support will still keep taking 5.3-related support calls until August 1st 2011.

In reality, we have found PTC support to be very helpful even where older software is concerned. However, you need to remember that no new software patches will be available for unsupported software. We highly recommend you stay up to date and always avoid being on unsupported software for any extended period of time. You don’t want to place your business at risk because you’re depending on unsupported software.

If you want to be sure of release support dates: Check the PTC product calendar.

Who Can Upgrade

Any PTC customer holding Arbortext licenses which are on active maintenance is eligible to upgrade to the latest release of the software for those actively licensed products.

It is worth noting that the licensing mechanics are changing with Arbortext 6.0. You will not be able to just copy over a 5.x series .lic file to the 6.0 license folder. Instead, you will need to return the existing 5.x license and obtain a 6.0-compatible license via the PTC online Arbortext licensing tool.

Please remember, that the PTC online Arbortext licensing tool is only available for managing licenses which are under active maintenance.

Codebase Differences

There are always small differences between major releases. 5.4 saw some modifications to the underlying ACL and related packages when compared to 5.3. There were also some changes to the composition. (Please remember that PTC never guarantees page fidelity from one release to another).

The best practice is to test all your code paths to discover where any ACL changes may affect your code and to make several test print runs to “diff” between your 5.3 and 5.4 PDFs, for example. The Acrobat “PDF Compare” feature may come in handy for this purpose.

As always, make sure you have a testbed system available and a good test plan!

If you haven’t already upgraded to 5.4, you ought to be able to upgrade safely. it’s a stable and mature code base now: The 6.0 release is right around the corner.

And remember, if you’re ever wondering about the details of any particular major or minor release, don’t forget we post details of the releases to our release notes feed! We’ll help you keep up to date with what’s happening with Arbortext.