Remote Operation: Operator’s Guide

Artisan’s Remote Operation feature allows users to have data locally on a computer, laptop, or tablet, and then synchronize with the main data every few minutes.

If you don’t have an Internet connection, these changes are queued, and synchronize once you have Internet connection again. This remote feature is very handy, especially if you’re travelling, but can also be used for multiple stores, offsite inventory, and even sidewalk sales.

We understand that some of the terminology mentioned in this article might seem overwhelming at first, but don’t worry! We’ll break it down so you can understand what’s happening step by step. 

What are Nodes?

You’ll see the term “node” often in this article. A remote node is a station or site working independently of the main location. A remote node for a station is only used on one computer (ex. a laptop that you might take offsite).

A remote node for a site can be shared by as many computers as your site licenses allow. The stations at this remote site are connected to the same remote node and share data instantly (just like multiple stations at the main site do).

Each node has its own copy of the entire database and sends and receives changes to and from the other nodes automatically. Transmissions are tracked to make sure that they are received and they are processed in the proper order.

Remote Limitations

When you are on a local network with two or more stations, you normally wouldn’t perform the same action on each of those stations. For example, you wouldn’t enter the same sale, update the same customer, or receive inventory on each individual station.

Working remotely is the same, except for the fact that there is a short delay before the other stations reflect any changes. Once the data has updated, then each station is looking at the same information. The period of time between a change on one station and another is called a state of flux. It is during this state of flux that the data is more vulnerable to conflicts.

Most of the time, Artisan will not crash because of these things. For example, changing different fields in an item, vendor, category, and customer on two nodes can be done without worry. One person could change the price of an item record, and another could change the description, and both changes are kept intact.

However, certain scenarios that happen during this change of flux could cause conflicts. We’ll go over more scenarios in detail later, but we’ll use the following example for now:

Let’s say you edit a customer’s email address on one register, while someone on a different register is trying to input a different email address for the same customer at the same time. Whoever last saved their changes will be accepted into the system.

Timing and communication is essential to help avoid these errors. Let your coworkers know when you’re making changes, so everyone is aware which data is accurate and which is not.

Remote Stations

Sometimes, it is confusing for people who are new to Artisan to realize which stations are directly connected to one server, and which stations are their own separate remote stations. 

Let’s say your main server is in the back room of your store. It is connected to registers 1, 2, and 3 which are out on the sales floor. These stations are all directly connected together and can be used to run the sales floor as separate stations, which all report to the main server.

You bring your laptop into work one day to function as an extra station. This laptop is not directly connected to registers 1, 2, and 3. It is serving as its own main remote. Any changes on this laptop, even if it is physically in the store, will not show immediately on registers 1, 2, and 3.

It takes approximately 15-30 minutes for any changes made on this remote laptop to show up on the main server at the store, which then sends the information to the three stations. This is done through the Artisan Task Manager.

Let’s say you’re working on a sale on the remote laptop and want to walk over to station 3 and edit it there at the same time. This should be avoided until the 15-30 minute state of flux is over. 

Once that time is up, you will be able to see the sale at register 3. Then, you can make any changes you need to (voiding, adding, changing customer names, etc.). 

For more information about remote operations, please click here.

NOTE: The Artisan Task Manager must be running whenever you are connected to the Internet. If you have any issues with the Artisan Task Manager, please report them so we can help you as soon as possible.

Other Conflicts

Certain actions, like we touched on above, can cause issues with your Artisan data and should be avoided. 

Unfortunately, the fixes for these types of problems require developer-level support. As a result, CerTek must charge for that developer time at a rate of $100/hour. 

One of the biggest conflicts you should be aware of is receiving items during a state of flux. For example, let’s say you receive a purchase order during this state of flux on one station, then a coworker starts receiving that inventory on their station. A customer comes in and wants to purchase an item, while another customer wants to return something. It’s easy to see how the scenario gets more and more complicated as changes are made.

Other Scenarios to Avoid

  • Ringing up a sale for the same order at two nodes
  • Taking a payment for the same order at two nodes
  • Making the same sale go through on two nodes. Let’s say a sale did not seem to go through at one node – do not attempt to go over to a different node to make it go through on that one
  • Discounting the same sale at two nodes
  • Returning the same order at two nodes
  • Voiding the same sale at two nodes
  • Receiving the same purchase order on two nodes
  • Editing the same purchase order on more than one station
  • Any Day End Operations on two nodes (cash counter, processing, adjusting, etc.)
  • Creating item records for the same vendor without automatic numbering turned on. If you do not use automatic numbering, you could accidentally create duplicate item records (ex. if two remote laptops are creating item records for the same vendor at once, they’ll need automatic numbering turned on to avoid conflicts)

We want to make sure your experience with Artisan is as smooth as possible. We hope this article helped explain how to avoid certain situations, so you can make the most out of the program.