TMUG 2013 Developers Roundtable Transcript

 This year at the TMUG Conference, end users got the opportunity to ask Tim Caine (Chief Technology Officer) and Randy Cannady (Director of Engineering) about some of the new features in the works for the ThinManager Platform 7 release later this year, offer suggestions to improve functionality from an end user perspective , and discuss future features and options.  Questions were also fielded online from various ThinManager users around the world.  The following is a list of those questions and the responses provided at the Developers Roundtable.



1) Employees oftentimes lose their badges and must obtain new ones.  When this occurs, the Plant Engineer would like the right to change their badge number.  This requires a long process of contacting “the keepers of the servers” to make the change.  The request is to provide a function via the TermMon ActiveX Control to programmatically change the badge numbers of non-administrative Term Secure users and to automatically log the date/time when that user’s badge number has changed.

Answer-          “This is part of a series of suggestions that all have to do with updating TermSecure users via various different means.  Currently, this fix can’t be implemented because there is no active directory integration.  Once we have that, maybe this requirement would change a little bit, but I would think we could allow that to happen through the ActiveX control in some manner. “



2) What I see lacking in ThinManager is the ability to assign privileges for the various functions within ThinManager for various groups of terminals, display devices, servers, etc.  Our facilities are segmented into different areas with different individuals responsible for those areas.  Ideally, we would like to create an organizational tree within TM that mirrors our facilities/responsibilities and use Active Directory groups to manage access to ThinManager functions for the various parts of the organizational tree.  Just like a directory tree, you should be able to select inheritance, etc.

Answer-          Yes, we’ve been tossing around the idea of making it more discrete in terms of your security settings within the tree.  Right now, when you run ThinManager it inherits the Windows user you are currently logged in your PC as it applies security to what you can do in ThinManager.  But if you can modify one terminal you can modify every terminal.  If you can modify one display client, you can modify them all.  There is no way to make that more fine grained and we have been talking about various ways of doing this but it is an implementation problem with the database, not a problem with the idea.  We have to figure out how to get around that.

 And up to this point, this would be a condition when you had multiple ThinServers.  If this requirement existed now each person would have their own ThinServer and be responsible for administering their own ThinServer. This looks like more of a request to say we want to have one ThinServer but have two separate groups be able to use it so each can edit their own things so the way you would accomplish this now is each person would install their own version of ThinServer and ThinManager, and this is kind of combining that together.  It is something we’ve have talked about numerous times, and there was a way to accomplish it by having separate ThinServers but it has been requested in the past and I think this, along with some of the Active Directory integration, that this would be a logical thing to try to accomplish.  It might not be in the next version, but in a version after that it could be an extension of the Active Directory functionality we are going to have in ThinManager 7.0.


3) I know you currently have no plans for a Windows 8 WinTMC application.  However, is it on your road map as an option?  Also, what about other Tablet OS besides Apple?  And have you considered a generic Browser based client ability?

Answer-          “We are planning on releasing it for the Android Platform as a client base, not actually ThinManager, though we would consider it if there was enough interest.  When Windows comes out with the new Non RT Surface Tablets you will be able to use them.  But if you want to use a Windows 8 Tablet you’ll have to get the “non RT” version.  As far as having a local browser on the terminal we have discussed it but one of the problems is the expectation of a browser.  Can it run Active X?  Can it run Flash?  All of these plugins people use now in a browser have become an expectation, which might not be realistic.  We can, however, implement a Microsoft Active X with RDP but only with Internet Explorer.”


4) Can I run ThinManager on a virtual machine?

Answer –         “Yes.  Also, there is a Virtual Client ability (Virtual Terminal) under VMware or HyperV you can set up a virtual machine with the smallest hard drive you can give it and the most minimal settings and PXE Boot so if you are doing testing you can run a virtual terminal on a tablet or laptop and it will behave exactly like a terminal on the floor.”



5) I would like to know if there is a way to use the MultiMonitor feature of the latest MS RDP version on Thin Manager terminals. We have applications that run over two screens that we are unable to run in two distinct RDP sessions.

Answer-          “Currently we can span two monitors in a single session or two different sessions on two monitors.  When you span a single session across two monitors and you maximize the application it goes across both monitors.  The way Microsoft implemented this is when maximizing an application in a dual monitor configuration it maximizes on one monitor, allowing two maximized applications on two monitors.  We have discussed adding the Microsoft support for multiple monitors to our RDP client.  There are two components to this, and both will require manually resizing one or the other.  Depending on the application, when you restart the session, it might or might not have to be manually resized.”


6) Can we rotate the large, wide screen monitor to take advantage of a 90 degree rotation 1050×1680 resolution that would nicely tile two panels vertically using all of the screen real-estate?

Answer-          “There is definitely something we can do there to create a setting allowing the user to choose between landscape or portrait mode in a single display mode.  However, it will create an issue when you combine that with MultiMonitor and that gets a lot more difficult to allow for multiple configurations.”



7) Touchscreen technology and LCD technology changes so rapidly – how I can always be sure that the touchscreens I’m buying will be compatible through ACP ThinManager?

Answer-          “The one way to always be certain is to send it to us and we will test it.  Part of the challenge we face is that touchscreen manufacturers are not very good about specifying what controller is in their unit.  The manufacturer of the actual product isn’t nearly as important as the touch controller that is in it.   Most manufacturers don’t make their own controllers, so finding out which controller is actually being used in the unit is the difficult part.  That is why we have hardware partners, because we know what is being used in every model they produce and certify as ThinManager Ready.”



8] Can you add a feature to easily copy/duplicate a display client, so we can create new/similar display clients for troubleshooting purposes?

Answer-          “We have discussed adding convenience features like this.  We have generally stayed away from things like Drag and Drop because of the inherent risk via operator error.  However, we can add a feature to copy settings and allow for it to be populated elsewhere.”



9) Can you add TermMon access groups to ThinManager tree to make them easier to see and manage?

Answer-          “We certainly could.  The 7.0 version of ThinManager will have a different user interface that looks completely different so you will have many more options for what you can see in the tree.  You are going to be able to add or remove nodes from the tree to personalize your view depending on what is important for you to see.”



10) Can you include the ability to add descriptions to cameras (like with thin clients) and allow terminal/camera descriptions to be visible in tool tip when hovering over in tree?

Answer-          “Recently we added descriptions to terminals and we can add them to any piece of the tree.  And I like the tool tip idea.  After all, what good is a description if you can’t get to it easily.  We could also add it to Terminal Servers.”



11) Can you add to iTMC functionality by adding support to terminal shadow display clients and the ability to use the integrated iPad camera as barcode scanner (the scanned barcode would wedge to app with focus)?

Answer-          “We are already working on adding iTMC support to terminal shadow display clients.  As far as using the iPad camera for iTMC applications, we have had that request a few times just to be able to see what someone else is seeing at a different location from another terminal or in the control room and it is something we are looking at.  The scanner would be difficult because it would have to be integrated as a keyboard wedge, but we are looking into different ways to integrate barcode scanners.”



12) Can you include “Idle Time” and “Log On Time” to User Sessions in the ThinManager tabs?

Answer-          “I haven’t looked at this in four or five years, but I remember not being able to add this feature.  It may be available now, but my first impression is that I would have added this if I could have.  We will check to see if it is something we can integrate into the newer ThinManager versions.”



13) Can you add the ability to disable a display client instead of the whole terminal server?

Answer-          “That has been requested in the past and we are working on adding some more disable functionality from within the tree, and not only display clients but possibly disabling other items that are in there.   There are many nodes in the tree where we can add this. With the new MultiStation features it is much more likely that you will want to disable a particular station as opposed to the whole client.”



14) Terminals are most easily viewed in “Terminals” part of tree, but the default for this is a hierarchy of inherited features.  A Terminal “Area Model” would be a really convenient way to organize/view clients based on area or geography within a single facility or across multiple sites.  Is this change possible?

Answer-          “You can organize the tree based on location or department as opposed to inheritance.  And then you can also make an organization flow for part of the list before it drops into inheritance but that is the only thing I can think of under the current configuration.  Perhaps we could add a location or description tag to a terminal and then be able to search or filter the tree based on the tag.”



15) Can you add the ability to “bulk edit” everything as an alternative to the GUI? Most useful for me would be Users, Terminals, and Access Groups.  Perhaps you could add some sort of an Excel/CSV export/import tool.

Answer-          “We’ve had various requests similar to this.  Our biggest problem with this is that the settings are fairly interconnected and it is pretty hard to manually edit a configuration and end up with a valid configuration and we don’t want the end user to end up with a big mess.”



16) Can you add the ability to shadow multiple display clients simultaneously and tile view a multiple terminal shadow session?  I often need to reboot multiple terminals, but want to check to make sure the terminals are not in use first.  Currently, I have to individually shadow each terminal, then reboot/restart all/selected terminals.

Answer-          “When we release ThinManager 7.0 later this year, you will be able to “tear off” a Shadowed tab and tie it to the specific thin client in the tree.  So as you move around the tree it will stay on the terminal as you move it around.  If you tear away multiple shadows, we can allow you to put them together and tile them.”



17) To minimize predefined display clients, I often have one display client and use the override settings to make minor customizations, however I can only have one instance of the display client per terminal. Could multiple instances of a display client be included on the same Terminal?

Answer-          “No.  We have talked about it and we have yet to find a way to make this a simple implementation.  But we will continue to look at it after the ThinManager 7.0 release.”



18) Can you add the ability to query the ThinManager database to create custom reports?

Answer-          “You can do that.  Right now there is a report tab that takes an html file and either an SQL query or a tickle script to create a custom report to enhance or customize the report tab feature.”



19) What is the status of support for Windows 8 and Windows 2012 Server?

Answer-          “It works fine with both.  The only hiccup in that is the install program that we are using is InstallShield and the version we are using doesn’t play nice with either so you have to run it in compatibility mode to get it installed but that problem should be fixed in the next Service Pack update (ThinManager 6.0 SP3).”



20) I understand it may be not possible to enable PXE boot over a wireless connection, but would it be possible to arrange some support for wireless terminals without the need for a local wired connection to a router?

Answer-          “You can PXE Boot over a wireless connection, but the device has to have PXE support via the manufacturer.”




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Tom Jordan

Marketing Lead for ThinManager - A Rockwell Automation Technology