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Updated Status of LCCA online eTrack

Updated Status of eTrack

The delay in getting eTrack back online after the club moved its website to a new server is truly disappointing. The club did prematurely announce a successful reboot, only to later acknowledge that eTrack was not up and not work. Unfortunately, eTrack is still off-line.

For more detailed information on the whys this happen, read below. But SUMMARY – eTrack will be offline for some time and when it does fully reemerge it will be better than ever with numerous little bugs finally fixed. eTrack will be brought up in stages, not yet fully defined but the first is expected to permit members to enter ads to be printed in the next Interchange Track. Soon, search will be reestablished followed by many of both expected and functions. The timeline for a fully functioning eTrack program has not been established, but it is expected to be up and running by the next issue of the Interchange Track. The club will continue to update members on progress made.

The Why’s – eTrack was written 20 years ago in a computer language no longer in use. Over time, a few desired features were turned off for various technical reasons. The program was developed by an individual who no longer does programming, but he does have the source code for the program. A technical detail - To bring an existing program file to live on a website, there is a necessary interconnect file called a DLL. The DLL on our former server was compiled to machine language and is not useful in developing the DLL necessary for our new server. That left us with 4 options –

1 – drop eTrack as a club benefit –(while an option, it was never considered)

2 – Try and uncompiled the existing DLL and make it work

3 – Create a new DLL for the data base source code – leaving the existing data base in old language with limited feature options.

4 – Write a new program in a current language, with a new DLL and make sure all the features work and the program is updateable with new features

Let me insert here, I had a very hard time accepting that moving a program from one computer to another would first of all require any significant rewrite and even more trouble wrapping my mind around why this DLL file would be such a big issue. With a number of trusted sources coming to the same conclusion and after better understanding the effort needed to essentially rebuild or repair the DLL, I accepted that such an action would require a lot of time (and therefore funds). It should be noted that even if the DLL was correctly rewritten, it would be rendered useless as eTrack is to get fully rewritten in an updated language for the totally new Website and would require a new, different DLL. In other words, any funds spent on the DLL would be wasted in that a rebuilt DLL would have to be replaced shortly.

Early LCCA members can remember a time before eTrack and on-line access. LCCA was among the first to offer on-line member to member searches and the first to offer online searches by SKU, a significant advantage over searching for items by member number. The club goal is to again have a leap forward in member to member trading, selling and buying.

Q&A –


Why did the LCCA move from a server that was working?   A. The company hosting the server was going out of business and give us till March 31, 2022 to move the website elsewhere or it would stop working.

Why did the website shut down for two weeks recently?   A. While early testing suggested a quick transfer to the new server, unexpected problems surfaced including a “missing” license from a company no longer in business, and software permission issues with existing programs. It was hoped during this down time that the simultaneous efforts with etrack would result in it going live.

Why can’t the LCCA get the uncompiled DLL file and quickly write new code for the new server?   A. the company programers responsible for this file created 2 decades ago are no longer with the company – it is shutting down. Any documentation that did exist either does not or the files cannot be located.

Why not select the method that gets eTrack up quickest – rewrite the source code?  A. This was considered briefly, but once the timeline and cost was defined to get the old process up and running only until the entire eTrack program is rewritten in new language, it was decided not to purse that approach. While there is an urgency by LCCA leadership to get eTrack up quickly and service our members, the cost exceeded what was considered reasonable. The decision was to just rewrite the program immediately as the first part of our web rebuild, focus all energy on it and get it back working better than ever. LCCA leadership understands both the real frustration of not having the system running and of course the awkwardness of it being down, leadership

When will eTrack be back online?   A.  It is anticipated that members will be able to enter ads in 7-8 weeks. Search should be available 4 weeks after that. Full eTrack functionality expected by August, well before the Interchange is next printed.

Why is member adding ads first to go online?   A. this is the first step to getting the many databases up, running and properly communicating (remember eTrack has multiple online data bases – SKU’s, Manufacturer, etc). To be of use, member ads must be entered for sales to happen. And adding member ads is the basis for the publishing of the Interchange Track.

Can eTrack be back online any sooner?   A. Hopefully, the LCCA has committed to a new website, a significant undertaking. As our new website company gets more familiar with the existing program, and to the goals and objectives of the club, timing may improve. For reference, the entire upgrade process of the entire site is June 2023.

How did the DLL, file transfer and even the License issues become an issue?   A. Proper attention was made at time each step of the work was done. The overall complexity of our site increased over time and patches were installed to overcome software language changes. These were done by programers who were paid to document their work, but this documentation, if it existed, cannot be found. The prior company is out of the hosting and programing business. Over the last 6-8 months, serious steps were taken to document what could be done, to properly back up all files and make the transition easier. These steps did prevent further delays in timing but more importantly, preserved the accuracy of our data base records,

What is the overall website plan?   A. the LCCA decided 6-8 months ago to completely update its website, adding a fresh look but more importantly, updated functionality and additional member benefits, to improve transactions, better organize and present info, in short to take advantage of all new software and website development offer. The driver for this happening now with some activities limited with covid, and concern about our vendor, this was a good time. During the last few months, a new vendor was found and vetted, and plans and contracts signed for a new site. In January, we received notice of the need to move servers, and all attention was focused on this move. Starting in February, the new vendor initiated the first steps in the transfer and after a rough start, the site went live in late March. Fortunately the head start made the move possible and eliminated even more delays. The website will be given a new look and feel, be easier to navigate, offer more options for the club and ease transactions. The existing site is still a strong site, does its job (obviously excluding the current eTrack issue), and can last for a long time. Leadership feels that the investment in the new site will pay off in many ways, and while costly will eventually make things easier for members and our business office who is responsible to act on club transactions. Response time will increase, the site can take on many of the new features not available in our existing site and of course, have the necessary formats for smart phone and tablet use.