Getting Started - Hardware Requirements

Theatre Manager is cross platform; you can have both Macintoshs and PCs access Theatre Manager's database on the same network, without worrying about any data integrity issues. As a general rule, if your computer is up to 4 years old, it will work with Theatre Manager. We target performance to match machines that average 2 years in age.

Note: Never use a slow mobile processor for a workstation or server. These low power CPU's are very slow and typically found in very cheap equipment.

There is an example configuration (updated Nov 2020) and a friendly reminder ... always do your backups faithfully each day.

TM Workstation Requirements

These workstation suggestions are current as of Oct 2020.

It is always best to use latest operating systems, a decent amount or ram, SSD's, better processors and any other specifications that would improve the performance of the Theatre Manager - point of sales system..

Theatre Manager is a 64 bit application.


OSX
  • Latest version of OSX (Mojave or Big Sur or Monterey)
  • 16GB+ of RAM (more is better)
  • 256GB+ free disk space for TM (SSD's are nice)
  • Any decent widescreen LCD monitors with a vertical resolution of at least 800 (more is much better - like 1024)
  • Apple-compatible printer for reports
  • (Optional) FGL based thermal ticket printer
  • (Training Only) Zoom compatible webcam and microphone
    • Apple's new Mac Mini with the M1 chip and 16 gigs of ram
    • Any core i7 Intel Mac, 2.0 GHz or better (core i7 preferred). New Mac Mini's released in 2018 with a core i7 or i9 processor make ideal workstations

Windows
  • Any dual-core microprocessor machine at 2.0 Ghz or better, with core i7 preferred
  • a 64 bit version of windows 10, or 2012 server or later.
  • 16GB+ of RAM; more is better for running many applications simultaneously
  • 256 GB+ free disk space for Theatre Manager - we suggest on SSD.
  • Any decent widescreen LCD monitors with a vertical resolution of at least 800 (more is much better - like 1024)
  • Windows-compatible printer
  • Mouse or other Windows pointing device
  • (Optional) FGL based thermal ticket printer
  • (Training Only) Zoom compatible webcam and microphone

TM Server Requirements

You can combine the postgres server and the TM server machines into one, or keep them separate. They are listed separate here. If you combine them, then set total ram at 32+ gigs and probably a two CPU machine or minimum single quad or 6 core.

AMS Cloud Server Option

Arts Management has a cloud offering for database and web services. If you elect to use that option, you will not need any of the servers below.

We also offer the ability to migrate a self hosted database to the cloud or a cloud hosted database to your own servers; whichever suits your needs better.

Self Hosted Option

Note: WINDOWS 10 SHOULD NOT BE USED FOR SERVERS.

Windows 10 forces auto-updates, restarts of servers, and cannot exclude the DB directories from virus checking easily -- without a series of registry hacks. We have even heard of Win 10 automatically updating lighting boards during a performance - taking out lights and sound. It is better to use Windows 2016 or later, all of which behave better when told by the user not to do something (via configuration).

Remember to use techsoup.org to acquire windows licences inexpensively.

Can we use a Virtual Machine? Absolutely!!!

The specifications below refer to the three server processes required for Theatre Manager. You can:

  • Put database and TM server on one machine and NGINX on second machines - specs shown below
  • Put all of them on one machine using VM technology - as long as the aggregate capabilities are about the same as the individual machine specs. For example, you'd want dual 4 core, 48GB+ of ram, and a fast raid array and run everything on at least two VM's. Apache/Nginx must go on a separate single core machine. The database and TM server can be on the other VM
  • combine TM Server and Postgres onto one physical machine, but you need to have at least a 4 core processor with hyperthreading (dual cpu is better), 48GB+ of ram, and a fast raid array to handle all processes
You can use Apple's M1 processor for servers or workstations. They are quite a bit faster than Intel Mac's.


PostgreSQL Database Server
Theatre Manager uses Postgres SQL for the database. Recommended specs are:
  • Operating system: Any 64 bit operating system supported by Postgres (OSX Mojave or later, Server 2016 or later, most Linux distributions, FreeBSD). Windows 10 is not recommended for postgres.
  • Memory:32GB+ recommended
  • Disk: the faster the disk array, the better. It is the single most import factor in server performance. We recommend:
    • SSDs, like NVMe M.2 if you can. Any SSD is better than spinning disks -or-
    • Multiple spinning disks, striping (raid 0 or 1+0), hardware raid, fast spindles 6GB SATA or better.
    • Fast Disk I/O is imperative
  • CPU: minimum of a Quad-core processor (6 or 8 core are quite economical these days). Large sites may want dual processors, depending on expected load and if web services are on same machine
TM Server TM server is a multi threaded process which requires memory and cpu cores to provide its services. If using Mac or Windows for the postgres server, this can be placed on the postgres machine. Recommended specs are:
  • Operating system: OSX Mojave or later -or- Windows 2016 or 2019 server version - 64 bit. Windows 10 is not recommended
  • Memory: 32GB+
  • Disk: Anything, an SSD is best
  • CPU: a 6 core (12-thread) machine will generally suffice unless you have a lot of web traffic, or large onsales, in which case you want more cores/ram.
Nginx Web Server Theatre Manager uses Nginx web servers. Recommended specs are:
  • Operating system: OSX Mojave and later. Windows 2016 or 2019 server 64 bit version. Windows 10 is not recommended
  • Memory:8GB+
  • Disk: Anything
  • CPU: most 2 core machine will generally suffice

TM Backup Requirements

Please refer to setting up backups to see how they are automated.

AMS Cloud customers are backed up automatically.

For venues self hosting the system, refer to Backup considerations for suggested strategies of how many backups to retain.

This generally only affects the size of the local backup database. Since a 1TB SSD is cheap these days, we suggest allowing at least that much space for backups.

Backups, Data Verification and Data Integrity

These are tips for the general care of any database, be it Theatre Manager, your accounting information, Word or Excel documents, contracts, or any other data on your computers. There are three sub topics:
  • Backups
  • Data verification and integrity within the database
  • Computer checkups

Backups

American Express estimates that the average value of 100 megabytes of company data is about $1,000,000 if you count the cost to acquire it, or damage to the company if you lost it all. They also state that 50% of companies that do not recover their data within 10 business days never fully recover financially. Backups are an important safeguard for a valuable corporate asset.

Media Use a commercial grade media to store the information. This can be a replication server, removable media, memory sticks, disk, or cloud-based backup
Backup Data Backup all data to one common place using one common process. If data is categorized and treated differently, it increases the possibility that data can slip through the cracks.
Backup Programs Too! Simply backing up data is not sufficient. Programs that were used to create the data also change over time and there is no guarantee that data from a few years ago can be read by the current version of a program. The best backup strategy includes backing up an image of all data and programs to one source so that both can be restored without a synchronization issue (i.e. now I've got the data, where is that program disk - they can be lost, the floppies go bad, or the serial number activation codes for some programs are lost - all of which mean that you would recover the data without the ability to use it).
The Other Computers The need for Theatre Manager database backup is obvious.

Including operating systems, programs and machines can also be important. The actual OS for each machine (Mac or PC) is different and optimized for the particular machine during installation. (For example, older machines often cannot run newer operating systems and vice versa).

There are serialized components within the operating system for network oriented multi-user applications (e.g. Theatre Manager, backup software, Quark Express, Word, Excel) that need to be restored at the same time as the program in order to work.

Fortunately, Apple includes a tool called Time Machine - which is worthwhile implementing for all data and all computers other than Theatre Manager's database server. On Windows 8, there is a feature called File History that mimics some portions of Time Machine. (There are also other third-party products for Windows).

Retention Strategies One backup is not good enough. Your backup scheme should include generations of backups going back a number of months or even years, depending on legislative requirements or corporate risk. Typically, you should have:
  • 2 to 4 weeks of daily backups. This is the most critical time period as files are usually lost or file corruption is noticed within this time frame.

  • There should be one or two years of 'month end' backups that occur on the first day of the month. This allows recovery of data to a specific point in time (e.g. what was the accounting data at the last grant application, or what were the house counts in Theatre Manager, or recovery of an important graphic from last year's brochure that should be used again).

  • Ultimately, we suggest you save 7 years of yearly backups to satisfy government requirements, should they come looking for data (don't forget that you need the program at the same time as the data).

This represents 30+12+7 = 49 distinct backups

Offsite Storage Backups need to be rotated off site - out of the office. This allows business recovery in the event of fire or theft from the principal site. Removable media or automated FTP of databases can be used.
Redundancy
Replication is a feature of postgres and is automatically set up for cloud venues. Self service venues may set this up if they wish - the support team is unable to help you.
Devices can break. You should have access to another similar device so that you can restore backup files and resume operation until the primary server device is repaired. For a moderate cost, you can have an immediate redundancy for the database server via hot streaming replication measures.

Example Backup Strategy and Devices

Volume of Data The size of most databases we see these days is under 500 MB, although some are 3 or 4 GB.

A rule of thumb is that many backups are far more valuable than the cost of the backup device. A 1Tb SSD backup disk is worth the investment - consider it insurance.

Performance A snapshot of the database should be done at least once a day, if not more often.

Alternatives

Streaming Replication This involves a second database server computer to have a live-hot backup of the database. This is highly recommended for active sites that need to minimize downtime or service outages.
Replication is a feature of postgres and is automatically set up for cloud venues. Self service venues may set this up if they wish - the support team is unable to help you.
Removable Media Examples are USB, FireWire, or Thunderbolt external drives which are useful for offsite rotation. Simply copy the database from the backup directory to the removable device and take it with you.
Automated Transfer

Examples are FTP, cloud-based backup, Dropbox, or other services. These can be set up to automate the process of saving an offsite copy of the database.

Testing Your Backups for Integrity

Data Integrity in your backup is important.

Just having backups is a very good start.

We also recommend doing tests on any important data according to a schedule. For example, with your accounting data, printing a balance sheet or income statement monthly and then testing the receivables balance is a generally accepted accounting principle. What you are doing is really testing the data integrity.

Theatre Manager has some built in safeguards. We recommend:

  1. Scheduling the backup process one or more times daily.
  2. Looking at the backup sizes daily to see that they are generally similar or growing in size as you use the system. TM will alert you if a backup is missed or is smaller in size than the previous one, indicating a possible problem - but do not rely on this as your only visual test of backups running properly.
  3. Using
    • AMS Offsite Backup storage to automate sending data securely offsite -or-
    • making copies on removable media and on thumb drives and taking some offsite manually
  4. Restoring your backup database periodically to ensure that it can be restored.

Do's and Don'ts of Backups

The do's of backups:

The don'ts of backups:

  1. Do backups daily
  2. Do backups before an upgrade to your operating system
  3. Do backups before doing a significant batch activity (like merging of patron records).  It is sometimes easier to back out a change by restoring an older database!
  4. Keep two weeks worth of daily backups
  5. Keep 2 months worth of monthly backups
  6. Keep a yearly backup of the database.  At the same time, back up the specific copy of Theatre manager used to access the database.  If you upgrade later in the year, it means that you can still access your old database using the old program without having to upgrade that database too.
  7. Test your backups once a month by trying to restore from the backup to make sure they are reliable.
    • See if you can read the data.  If not, your hardware may have problems that need fixed.
  8. Do take a copy of your latest backup home with you.  If your machines are stolen or wiped out in a fire, the backup at home will be your only friend!
  1. Do not do backups to the same drive over and over again unless you are also backing up offsite.  All it takes is for a bad copy to be made and the computer die to realize that you have nothing.
  2. Do not skip a day
  3. Do not ignore backup error messages from the computer that say backups didn't work!  Find out why and then get the hardware fixed if need be.
  4. Do not do backups unreliable media.

Ticket Printers

Theatre Manager works with Practical Automation, Boca, Boca Dual, Datamax Allegro, some Datamax S-Class, and Microcom FGL printers by default. This section will deal with steps for setting up a printer to work within your network.

Practical Automation Printer Setup

Before you print tickets, you need to set your ticket printer settings in employee preferences. Once set, those remain to the machine you are working on and user id logged in to the machine. If you go to another machine, you may have to set the printer preferences for that machine.

Depending on the ticket printer and the operating system there will be different confirmation windows before the tickets are printed.

NEVER INSTALL a practical automation printer driver on a computer even if suggested by the operating system. If a practical automation printer driver has been installed, remove it.

When using ticket printers with parallel ports, there should be no printer driver assigned to LPT1.

Finding out Practical Automation Ticket printer current IP address

  • Turn the ticket printer on holding down the [F0] button on the printer.
  • This prints a ticket with information about the printer and it's IP address. The factory default is usually 192.186.1.1

Changing IP Address on Practical Automation Printers

There are two methods for changing the ip address on a Practical Automation printer with an ethernet port:
  • Use a web browser to talk to the printer. This may not work with some browsers (Firefox is most reliable)
  • Use a special application to access the printer and change a number of settings. This method always works and is the preferred method.

We recommend that you provide a static IP address to the thermal ticket printer.

This ensures each time the ticket printer is turned on, the Theatre Manager's workstations will be able to communicate properly with it

It is a good idea to stick a label with the printer's IP address directly onto the printer.
If you change the printer's IP address, make sure to update its Device Record with the new ip address.
Finding out Practical Automation Ticket printer current IP address

  • Turn the ticket printer on holding down the [F0] button on the printer.
  • This prints a ticket with information about the printer and it's IP address. The factory default is usually 192.186.1.1

 

Option #1 - Using the Practical Automation Tool

  1. Download the installer for the Practical Automation Tool from http://www2.artsman.com/Software/PANetworkUtilityVB-1.1.zip.
  2. When the download is complete, extract the ZIP file into a new folder anywhere that is easily accessible.
  3. Open the folder.

    There will be a number of files.

  4. Open the folder labeled Package and find the file labeled setup.exe.

  5. Double click on the setup file to run it, and complete the installation.
  6. After the installation is complete, return the previous level in the folder that the Practical Automation Tool was extracted to.

    Do this by pressing the Back button or the Up button.

  7. Setup the Practical Automation Printer, power it up, and connect it to the network via a hub, switch or router.

    If a hub, switch, or router is not available, a crossover cable between another computer and the printer will be needed. A crossover cable is not a standard ethernet cable. It has a different pin configuration and is used to connect servers to servers or routers to routers - not machines or printers to routers. Macintosh computers can auto-negotiate standard ethernet cables into crossover cables, but Windows machines cannot. If at all possible, use a hub, switch or small router to create your own small network of computer to router / router to printer configuration.

    The default address of the printer is 192.168.1.1, (which is a commonly used IP address). Make sure that the printer will not conflict with something else on the network before powering it up. If another device is using the same IP address, it is recommended that you use a crossover cable to another computer rather than hooking the printer into the network.

  8. In the Practical Automation Tool folder, double click on the PANetwork program to start it.

  9. At the top of the screen, enter the IP address 192.168.1.1, and then click the Ping & Get Printer Info button.

    This will connect you to the printer.

  10. Near the bottom of the screen, click on the Change IP Address tab.
  11. Change the IP address and subnet mask as necessary.
  12. Click the Update IP Address using FGL Command button.

    Once the settings are saved, the IP address at the top of the program will need to be changed to reflect the new IP address, and to re-connect to the printer.

  13. To verify the settings, turn off the printer. Hold down the F0 button and turn the printer on.

    A ticket will print containing the IP address of the printer.

  14. Once everything is set, each user will need to be adjusted in Theatre Manager to connect to the new printer.

    Click here for more information on changing a user's ticket printer settings.

Option #2 - Using a Web Browser

  1. Change the IP address of the computer temporarily to 192.168.1.xx where xx is anything you want except 1 (for the ticket printer is using 192.168.1.1). You may want to take a screenshot or write down your existing settings so you can reset them after you are finished.

    Arts Management recommends that you provide a static IP address to the thermal ticket printer. This can be obtained from your IT Support. Having a static IP address ensures each time the ticket printer is turned off and back on again, the Theatre Manager's workstations will be able to communicate properly with it.


    a) On a Macintosh go to Apple >> System Prefs >> Network,
    b) On a PC go to Network Places >> Properties >> Local Area Connection >> Properties >> TCP/IP >> Properties
    c) Set your Built-In Ethernet to become Manually set at 192.168.1.2 (anything but 192.168.1.1) and subnet of 255.255.255.0
  2. d) Turn off your wireless connection
  3. Setup the Practical Automation Printer, power it up, and connect it to the network via a hub, switch or router.

    If a hub, switch, or router is not available, a crossover cable between another computer and the printer will be needed.

    The default address of the printer is 192.168.1.1, (which is a commonly used IP address). Make sure that the printer will not conflict with something else on the network before powering it up. If another device is using the same IP address, it is recommended that you use a crossover cable to another computer rather than hooking the printer into the network.

  4. Open the computer's web browser, typically either Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox or Chrome. Do not use Safari as it will not be effective.
  5. In the address bar of the web browser enter the following IP address: http://192.168.1.1 and press the Enter key.

    A prompt for user name and password should appear. Leave these fields blank and press the Enter key.

    A new page will open showing the Printer Configuration.

  6. Click on the link labeled 'Network' to adjust the IP configuration.
  7. Change the IP to the new static address, and adjust the subnet if necessary.
  8. Click the OK button at the bottom of the screen.

    The word 'Done' should appear to the right of the button confirming the settings are saved.

  9. Click the Apply Settings button to update the printer.

    The printer should reset once the settings have been updated.

  10. Turn the printer off and back on one time to ensure that the settings have correctly updated.
  11. To verify the settings, turn off the printer. Hold down the F0 button and turn the printer on.

    A ticket will print containing the IP address of the printer.

  12. Once everything is set, each user will need to be adjusted in Theatre Manager to connect to the new printer.

    Click here for more information on changing a user's ticket printer settings.

  13. Reset the IP settings for your computer to what they were before you started.

Reset the Printer to Factory Defaults

To reset the printer EEPROM settings to factory default, Press the following key sequence:

  1. On power up, press [F1] to enter Diagnostics.
  2. Press [F0] for Special Functions.
  3. Press and hold [F1] for 5 seconds until 5 rapid beeps are heard.
  4. Release the button and cycle the power.

Click the icon to download the ITX 3000/2000 Printer User Manual.

Disable SNMP on Practical Automation Ticket Printer

Disabling any unused service from the network, as per PCI DSS standard 2.2.2, may require you to disable the SNMP service from the ticket printer. This would only apply to 'Ethernet' ticket printers as parallel, serial, and USB cabled ticket printers do not offer the SNMP service.

If you are required to disable the SNMP service, there is an application/utility called the "Device Installer" that will allow you to make these changes. You can find this utility at http://www.lantronix.com under Support/Downloads. Download this application/utility to update the software within the ticket printer.

Please contact your local IT department for assistance making this change.

IP Ticket Printing Setup - Mac

Finding out Practical Automation Ticket printer current IP address

  • Turn the thermal ticket printer on holding down the [F0] button on the printer.
  • This prints a ticket with information about the printer and it's IP address. The factory default is usually 192.186.1.1

Mac OS

For the Mac OS, you perform the following steps:

  1. Connect the printer to the computer using a crossover cable or to the network by connecting through a hub.
  2. Temporarily change the computer's IP address to 192.168.1.xx where xx is anything other then 1 (the ticket printer default is 1).
    1. Go to Apple >> System Preferences.
    2. Select Network.
    3. Double click Built-in Ethernet.
    4. Change the IP Address to 192.168.1.2 (anything other then 192.168.1.1) and the Subnet to 255.255.255.0
    5. Close the window and save changes.
  3. Open a web browser and enter the address for the router (http://192.168.1.1).
  4. When prompted for a user name and password leave then blank and login.

    The configuration page opens.

  5. Click Network in the top left side of the window.

    The IP Address and Subnet Mask for the ticket printer will be displayed.

  6. Change the IP Address and Subnet Mask.
  7. Click the Ok button at the bottom of the screen.

    The work done will appear next to the OK button.

  8. Click Apply Settings in the lower left side of the window.

    Wait for the settings to take effect.

  9. Close the web browser.
  10. Turn the ticket printer off and on.
  11. Change the computer IP Address back to it's original setting.
  12. Turn the ticket printer off and on.
  13. Login to Theatre Manager.
  14. Go to Setup >> Users and Access >> Employee Preferences. Click the Ticket Printer tab.

  15. Change the ticket printer IP Address.
  16. Click the Save button.

    The ticket printer has now been set for this user and is ready to print. The Employee Preference window can be closed. Each user will need to see the ticket printer under Employee Preferences.

Practical Automation/BOCA Printer

The first time printing tickets since logging onto Theatre Manager for that session, a confirmation window will appear, otherwise the tickets will automatically print.

  1. Verify the printer is turned on and connected to the computer.
  2. Click the Yes button.

IP Ticket Printing Setup - Windows

Windows OS

To configure a printer for the Windows operating system, you perform the following steps:

  1. Connect the printer to the computer using a crossover cable or to the network by connecting through a hub.
  2. Turn the ticket printer on holding down the [F0] button on the printer.

    This prints a ticket with information about the printer and it's IP address. The factory default tends to be 192.168.1.1

  3. Download the installation file.

    The installation file can be found at http://www2.artsman.com/Software/PANetworkUtilityVB-1.1.zip

  4. If you are connecting through a hub (and not using a crossover cable), it may be necessary to use only the hub between the workstation and the printer - disconnecting the workstation from the primary network. Since the printer comes with a default IP of 192.168.1.1, this IP may already be in use by another router on your network. This will cause an IP conflict and you won't be able to affect the IP address of the printer. Be sure to download the PANetwork Utility prior to disconnecting from the network.

  5. Extract the file from the zip archive.

  6. Open the Package folder and run the Setup.exe file.

    Follow the prompts to complete the install.

  7. Temporarily change the computers IP address to 192.168.1.xx where xx is anything other then 1 (the ticket printer default is 1).
    1. Open Network Places.
    2. Right click and select Properties.
    3. Click Local Area Connection.
    4. Click Properties.
    5. Select TCP/IP.
    6. Click Properties.
    7. Change the IP Address to 192.168.1.2 (anything other than 192.168.1.1) and the Subnet to 255.255.255.0
    8. Click OK till the desktop is reached.
  8. Move back to the previous folder and run the PanNetwork file (Third from the left).

  9. Enter the ticket printer IP address at the top of the window.

  10. Click the Change IP Address tab.
  11. Change the Printer's New IP Address and the Printer's New Subnet Mask.
  12. Click the Update IP Address Using FGL Command button.
  13. Change the computer IP Address back to it's original setting.
  14. Turn the ticket printer off and on.

    If you disconnected this workstation from the primary network as noted above, reconnect it at this time.

  15. Login to Theatre Manager.
  16. Go to Setup->System Tables->Devices and search for a list of all devices you have.

  17. If this printer is in the list of devices, then edit it. If not, insert a new printer device. Refer to Device setup for more information.

    Change the IP address in the appropriate spot

  18. Any employee using that device in their hardware setup will now use the revised IP address - so it changes it for everybody.

Boca

To setup a Boca printer, you perform the following steps:
  1. Power up the printer and connect it to the network via a hub, switch or router.

    If a hub, switch, or router is not available, a crossover cable between another computer and the printer will be needed.

  2. Open the computer's web browser, typically either Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, or Apple Safari.
  3. In the address bar of the web browser enter the IP address of a ticket printer.

    You'll need to know this but it might look like

    http://10.0.0.192 or http://192.168.1.1

    and press the Enter key.

    This should open the Boca Systems' Printer Configuration Page.

  4. Near the bottom of the first column of settings, use the drop down menu to change Ethernet from DHCP Enabled to Yes

  5. At the bottom of the second column of settings, set the IP address for the printer.

    Typically leading zeros are not necessary in an IP address, but they are for this setting.

  6. At the bottom of the third column of settings, adjust the Subnet Mask if necessary.
  7. At the bottom of the fourth column of settings, set the Default Gateway for the network.

    Again, it is necessary to include the leading zeros.

  8. Click the Save Changes button to finish the process.

    The printer should now be able to be pinged at the new IP address. Also, the new IP address will print on a test ticket if the information is needed to be stored somewhere.

    For information on connecting a user to the printer via Theatre Manager, click here.

Boca Lemur

To setup a Boca printer, you perform the following steps:
  1. Power up the printer and connect it to the network via a hub, switch or router.

    If a hub, switch, or router is not available, a crossover cable between another computer and the printer will be needed.

  2. Open the computer's web browser, typically either Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, or Apple Safari.
  3. In the address bar of the web browser enter the following IP address: http://10.0.0.192 and press the Enter key.

    The Boca Systems' Printer Configuration Page opens.

  4. Near the bottom of the first column of settings, use the drop down menu to change Ethernet from DHCP Enabled to Yes

  5. At the bottom of the second column of settings, set the IP address for the printer.

    Typically leading zeros are not necessary in an IP address, but they are for this setting.

  6. At the bottom of the third column of settings, adjust the Subnet Mask if necessary.
  7. At the bottom of the fourth column of settings, set the Default Gateway for the network.

    Again, it is necessary to include the leading zeros.

  8. Click the Save Changes button to finish the process.

    The printer should now be able to be pinged at the new IP address. Also, the new IP address will print on a test ticket if the information is needed to be stored somewhere.

    For information on connecting a user to the printer via Theatre Manager, click here.

Datamax S-Class

Please refer to the instructions on the manufacturer's web site (Honeywell) for setup and operation instructions.

The Parallel version (for PC only) has been tested and confirmed to work with Theatre Manager. Ethernet connectivity has not been tested. USB is not supported.

Microcom Ticket Printers

Artsman's Exclusive Thermal Ticket Printer Provider - Microcom

Artsman is proud to partner with Microcom to provide thermal ticket printing solutions, which are optimized for the ticketing market. Their heavy duty metal design and reliable mechanics will provide years of continuous, low maintenance printing. For more information and current pricing, please contact Artsman Sales.

First Time Setup For Microcom Printers

Theatre Manager only connects to Microcom Thermal Ticket Printers via an Ethernet cable. This is designed so that all Theatre Manager users can connect to the ticket printer when on the same network.
Microcom printers support QR codes on ticket faces

Unbox and Setup Printer

Unbox and setup the printer as per the steps below. You should only need to:

  • Step 1
  • Step 2 - the placement of the port will differ depending on your printer model, see below.
  • Step 3
  • Step 5
Step 4 (adding drivers or USB FGL support) are not required.
Connect Ethernet Cable You will need to connect an ethernet cable to the back of your printer as per the diagram to the right.

The port should be labelled Ethernet - but it might be called Aux.

Using the other ports like Parallel and Serial shoaled work - and will require support for those ports in your computer. Ethernet is the recommended and supported option.

Find Ethernet Address from Test Ticket Use the instructions to print a test ticket and determine the printers current ethernet address. It will be required when setting up the device in Theatre Manager.
Enter Device Communication Settings Add the MicroCom printer to the device table using device setup so that is it similar to the image to the right.

You will need to enter the IP address of the printer into this field. If it is not on the same subnet, you might have to make up a mini network and manually assign your computer an address to match the printers subnet in order to continue this process.

If using serial or parallel printing, adjust the TM setup accordingly.

Connect to the Printer Status Page On the set-up page, if you enter an IP address, you can click the 'globe' icon to connect to the printer's status page. If you have the right ethernet address and are on the same subnet, you should see a page similar to the one on the right.

Of particular interest are:

  • Firmware Version - which should be at least version 01.00.22.2 or later. This firmware has compatible support for the Practical Automation status command which allows the printer to talk back to the computer sending tickets.
  • FGL Settings - to make sure the printer supports the Boca FGL language and settings are appropriate
  • Ethernet Settings - to ensure ethernet is set up and that you are communicating on the standard port for ticket printing.
  • Wifi Settings - if your printer supports wifi, you may wish to have it join to your network. If you do that, you could print over wifi, perhaps when at remote sites.
  • Other settings - come into play if using the machine via serial or parallel ports. USB is not supported
Configure Printer Click the Configuration Page button to change any settings you need for your network or FLG compatibility.

For ethernet setup:

  • Make sure it is enabled
  • Host Name - is a name you can give to the printer and is used for DHCP setup. You probably will not change this.
  • IP Address - provide a static IP address for the printer. Note that Theatre Manager could print to a DNS Address and if you set up your domain name servers with a record for the printer, you might choose DHCP setup. If you want that, please tal to your IT person.
  • Port - we suggest the default of 9100
  • Subnet - set it as per the image unless otherwise advised by your IT staff
  • Gateway - set it as advised by your IT staff
  • DHCP Enabled - seems to be ignored if a static address is provided.
Configure Printer (Wifi) Lower on the Configuration Page are settings for enabling wifi. We generally recommend against wifi on your ticket sales network as that could create an exploitable part within your network and should be documented as per PCI compliance requirements.

If you wish to use wifi for connecting to the ticket printer, you can. It takes two approaches:

  • You can join your printer to your hardwired network (the better approach). If you do this, you specify the IP address of the printer and the WPA encryption keys required to allow the printer to join the network. -or-
  • it looks like you can set the printer up as a wifi point and access it directly. Any passphrase support would come from the operating system. Talk to your IT people if you really need to implement this option as they would be the people to support you.
Diataxis: 

Microcom Printer - Cutter Offset

If you are having Microcom Printer issues, in that your Tickets are not cutting at the exact line they should be, you can adjust the Cutter Offset.

 

NOTE: Do not cut right on the perforation. It will dull the cutting blade faster, causing more frequent blade replacement costs. New blade cutters are supplied directly by Microcom and are not covered by warranty.

 

Step 1 - Press the Print Menu Button

On the Printer itself, click the Print Menu button.

Step 2 - Click the Next Button Twice

Click the Next button twice to get to the Cutter Offset option.

Step 3 - Select the Cutter Offset Option

Step 4 - Select the Offset Measurement

Use the plus + and minus - buttons to set your preferred offset measurement, which are calculated in pixels.

We recommend '-20' as a good starting point.

Step 5 - Click Save

Step 6 - Print a Test Ticket

Diataxis: 

Microcom Printer Unboxing

A Microcom printer ships with a print tray and power cable. You will need to supply ticket stock and an ethernet cable or pre-ordered Panda Wi-Fi dongle from Artsman.

When opening the box you'll find a Quick Start Guide. Set this aside as these steps are not required.

Below the Quick Start Guild will be a yellow envelope containing the Key to open the printer. This envelope is taped to the plastic wrap encompassing the printer. The key will need to be used each time to unlock the side panel before the printer can be opened.

Open the side panel of the print (using the key) to access the Accessories box.

The Accessories box contains the print tray, a USB cable (this will not be used), and the power cable for the printer.

Microcom Printers and Wireless Printing

Microcom printers have the ability to print wirelessly using a Panda Wireless dongle. When the printer is unboxed the dongle can be inserted directly into the USB port and the printer configured to join the network using Wi-Fi.

For security, Wi-Fi printing should be set up on a private, secure network where only administrative staff have access. The speed of ticket printing will largely depend on the network speed. Wi-Fi printing may not be as effective for larger batch printing.

Connecting Microcom Printer to Wi-Fi

  1. Turn the printer Off using the rear panel power switch.
  2. Plug the Wi-Fi dongle into the USB port on the back of the printer.

    The Wi-Fi dongle will not light up.

  3. Turn the printer On.
  4. Press the CONFIG MENU button on the printer display.
  5. Press Next until you see the OPTIONAL PORTS setting and press.
  6. Press the OPTIONAL PORTS button, select the WIFI bullet and click SAVE.
  7. Press Next until you get to the WIFI menu option.
  8. Press the WIFI button.
  9. Press the WIFI JOIN button, choose the JOIN setting, and click Save.

    Use the Next button to continue navigating through the settings.

  10. Press WIFI SSID, enter the name of the wireless network to be joined, and click Save.
  11. Press WIFI PASSPHRASE, enter the wireless network password, and click Save.
  12. Press WIFI DHCP, select ENABLE, and click Save.
  13. Press WIFI PORT, enter 9100, and click Save.
  14. Press WIFI ENCRYPTION, select your Wi-Fi network encryption, and click Save.

The Wi-Fi dongle will light up once it's connected to the network. The printer will take approximately 30 seconds to retrieve a DHCP IP address from the network.

 

If the Microcom printer has previously been connected via an Ethernet cable or an Ethernet cable has been plugged into the printer you will not be able to simply plug the dongle in and configure the Wi-Fi settings. Follow the steps below to complete the wifi setup process.

 

Removing Ethernet Settings Before Using Wi-FI

  1. Turn the printer Off using the rear panel power switch.
  2. Unplug the Wi-Fi dongle and/or Ethernet cable from the printer.
  3. Turn the printer On.
  4. Press the CONFIG MENU button on the printer display.
  5. Press Next until you get to the ETHERNET menu option.
  6. Press the ETHERNET button.
  7. Press the DHCP button, select the DISABLE bullet, and press Save.
  8. Click the Next button to advance to the IP ADDRESS menu.
  9. Click the IP ADDRESS button, change each of the four numbers to 10, and press Save.

    This removes the previously configured IP address from the ethernet connection and moves the settings back to default.

  10. Press EXIT and REBOOT NOW.
  11. Wait until the printer comes back online and you see the PRINT button.
  12. Turn the printer Off.
  13. Plug the Wi-Fi dongle back into the printer.
  14. Turn the printer On.

The printer will take up to 30 seconds to pull an IP address from the network. Use the Print button on the front of the printer to generate a test ticket. The IP address of the printer will appear on the test ticket. Use the Command prompt (Windows) or Terminal (Mac) to Ping the IP address on the ticket. The printer should respond.

Add the printer as a Device to Theatre Manager and set your Hardware Preferences to use the new printer. You should now be able to print to the printer using the Wi-Fi connection.

Updating Microcom Printer Firmware

The 485 series printer uses the USB HOST port found on the back of the printer to update the firmware in the printer. A USB flash drive that is greater than 1GB but less than 32GB formatted as a FAT32 file-system is used during the update. Following instructions below for additional information.

 

Preparing the USB flash drive to update printer code
  1. The flash drive must be less than 32GB in size and formatted as a FAT32 file system.
  2. Connect the USB Flash Drive to a Windows-based PC.
  3. Open Explorer or type My Computer in the search bar of the task menu.
  4. Right-click on the flash drive and select Format from the menu that appears.

    CAUTION: Verify that you are selecting the flash drive as this will erase the contents of the drive. If you have any doubt, disconnect the flash drive and it should no longer show up under the Devices and Driver section.

  5. In the Format window displayed, select FAT32 for the file system. Type in a label for the flash drive and then click Start.
  6. Once complete, the flash drive is ready for the code update files to be copied to it.

 

Copying Files to the formatted USB Flash Drive

Once formatted for the FAT32 file system the flash drive, copy the update file to the flash drive by doing the following.

  1. Download the code files located at:

    https://microcomcorp.com/downloads/077001-010112.zip (October 2022)

  2. Unzip the files onto your PC.
  3. Copy the unzipped files on to the formatted flash drive.
  4. After the files are copied onto the flash drive, right click on the drive and select Eject and remove the drive from the PC.

 

485 Firmware Update Process

Follow these instructions using a flash drive that contains the code update files. Please make sure that ticket stock is installed in the printer before continuing.

  1. Turn the printer power OFF.
  2. Connect the flash drive to the USB HOST port on the back of the printer.
  3. Turn the printer ON.
  4. Observe the display on the front of the printer, it should look like:

  5. Once the status light changes GREEN turn the printer off and remove the USB flash drive.
  6. Turn the printer ON and allow the update to complete. The Display code will now update. Once the light turns Green, the update is complete.
  7. Verify the code update by going to CONFIG\PRINTER INFO on the display.

    Under the Code Ver should report 01.01.12. Led should turn green in color once the update is successful.

 

Updating Microcom Cutter Settings

There is Windows-based application that allows for connecting to any Micromcom printer currently on the local network. This tool can be used to update the cutter settings that may have been impacted following the installation of Firmware version 01.01.12.

 

  1. Download the Microcom Confirmation Application from here:

    https://www.microcomcorp.com/downloads/x85_configuration_application_for_windows.zip

  2. Unzip and install the application.
  3. Run the .exe file to start the configuration application.
  4. Connection the printer directly to the same PC.
  5. On the main screen towards the bottom, select the "CONNECT TO PRINTER" button and select the port of the printer that is being used (Enet or CDC USB).
  6. Select the port number of the connection.
  7. Select the "READ FROM PRINTER" button to load in the current printers configuration.
  8. Select the "BASIC CONFIG" on the side menu.

    You should now see a CUTTER TYPE, select MICROCOM CUTTER

  9. Select the "SAVE TO PRINTER" button towards the bottom to send the command to the printer.
  10. Select "RESTART" to restart the printer and you may now exit the configuration app
  11. Test the printer once it reboots to verify that it now cuts properly.

 

Sharing Ticket Printers

If you wish to share a ticket printer amongst Windows and/or Mac OSX machines, the recommended solution is a printer with an ethernet card built into it.

Note: Arts Management Systems only supports sharing ticket printers if they are IP based. We do not support sharing parallel printers using the Net Use technique for Vista or earlier. If you cannot get the technique to work, please contact Microsoft.

Net Use for Parallel printers (not supported)

Net Use solution is NOT supported by Arts Management Systems.

Use IP based printers instead.

Note: this technique only works with NT, 2000, XP pro and Vista. It does not work with:
  • Windows 7 or later because Microsoft did not implement the 'net use' command the same.
  • non professional versions of XP
  • if you attempt to share printers and you are using Theatre Manager via Remote Desktop.
  • Again, please ask Microsoft why.

Historically, sharing can be done amongst Windows only computers with an LPT port using a feature called NET USE available in some versions of Windows older than Vista. Alternatively, you could print when two computers that are side by side in the box office using an electronic A/B switch (means it automatically switches LPT1 depending on who is printing).

If you opt for the software solution, it works like this:

  • Give the computer a name like BoxOffice1 (notice, no spaces). each computer must have a unique name, so the other ones can be called BoxOffice2, etc.
  • Set up a 'generic text/only' printer driver for LPT1 (or LPT2 or LPT3) on the machine with the ticket printer
  • Make this printer shared and give it a convenient name like TixPrnt1 (8 characters and no spaces works best)
  • On all other machines that are to print on this printer, start the 'DOS' command prompt and do a command that looks like:

    net use lptx: \\ComputerWithPrinter\PrinterName /Persistent:yes

    using the example above, the command would look like

    net use lpt2: \\BoxOffce1\TixPrnt1 /Persistent:yes

    This will redirect lpt2 on a computer to the machine with the ticket printer. The advantage of this is that is it easily configurable and you can use more than one of these commands on any machine to allow it to point to any ticket printer on the network.

  • Now, in the employee preferences for the user of the second computer, you need to indicate that they print to LPT2. When a ticket is printed, it will be routed through the network to the BoxOffice1 computer. It is generally about that easy in practice.

To remove the ticket printer connection on a workstation

Using the example above

net use lptx: /delete

For more information on how the net use command works use the Windows help/ Go to start >> help. And do a search for "net use"

Ticket Printer Error Codes

Occasionally, you may receive a Thermal Ticket Printer Error Code in Theatre Manager when attempting to print a ticket. This message is not generated by Theatre Manager, but rather by the ticket printer itself, and then passed through Theatre Manager for you to see.

Thermal Ticket Printer Error Codes as provided by Practical Automation:

CODE DESCRIPTION
1 Printer out of paper
2 Jammed ticket
3 Printer offline
4 Printer failure
5 Low paper (roll ticket printers only).

The following resources are also available from Practical Automation:

Ticket Printer Error Codes as provided by BOCA:

CODE DESCRIPTION
1 REJECT BIN WARNING
2 REJECT BIN ERROR
3 PAPER JAM PATH 1
4 PAPER JAM PATH 2
5 TEST BUTTON TICKET ACK
6 TICKET ACK
7 WRONG FILE IDENTIFIER DURING UPDATE
8 INVALID CHECKSUM
9 VALID CHECKSUM
10 OUT OF PAPER PATH 1
11 OUT OF PAPER PATH 2
12 PAPER LOADED PATH 1
13 PAPER LOADED PATH 2
14 ESCROW JAM
15 LOW PAPER
16 OUT OF PAPER
17 X-ON
18 POWER ON
19 X-OFF
20 BAD FLASH MEMORY
21 NAK (illegal print command)
22 RIBBON LOW
23 RIBBON OUT
24 PAPER JAM
25 ILLEGAL DATA
26 POWERUP PROBLEM
27 DOWNLOADING ERROR
28 DOWNLOADING ERROR
29 CUTTER JAM
30 STUCK TICKET or CUTJAM PATH1
31 CUTJAM PATH2

The BOCA Systems web site contains a variety of technical manuals for FGL programming and Owner's Manuals.

Picking machines - Example Setup

Theatre Manager will operate on virtually on any platform that it is installed on. From Theatre Manager's original conception, it has been designed on the Macintosh and the PC platforms (simultaneously), while still enabling a single version of the source code, resulting in a true cross-platform box office solution.

Workstations

When purchasing a new desktop system, budgeting $450-$800 for a box office workstation has been a standard price for the past 5 years. For that price, you will get a great price/performance value including the monitor and everything else you need.

Examples that fall in this price range (as of Nov 2020):

  • PC: Intel® quad core i7; up to 16 GB RAM; Windows 10; gigabit ethernet; up to 2 TB SATA or 256 GB solid state drive
  • Apple: iMac Mini, fast dual i7; 16 GB RAM (more is better); 1TB hard drive; OSX 10.14 or later
  • Theatre Manager is best viewed at higher screen resolutions (>1280x720 pixels). 24" or 27" widescreen LCD's are about $150-$200 and are perfect for the box office, allowing larger seating maps to be displayed making it easier for your patrons and staff to view the available seats during the sales process

If you are going to buy, check the consumer ratings for phone and web based computer vendors. In many instances, you can get some good deals on machines purchased this way.

Web Services

The second generation web services run best on machines with more CPUs, due to its multithreaded nature. Most organizations install it on the database server. Some make the web listener a standalone machine. A faster quad-core i7 machine with 16 GB of RAM is a good choice.

Note: the server starts up a number of listeners equal to about twice what the # of CPU's are, meaning a dual-core machine gets 3 listeners and a quad-core gets 7. This is why a quad-core or better should be used.

Ethernet

The best performance today is a gigabit switched Ethernet network using cat-5 or cat-6 cable

You can use 10T/100T/Gigabit networks if that is what is available.

Postgres Server

A decent database server can easily be purchased for between $2,000 and $3,000 (Nov 2020). For most venues, this could also be the web services computer.

Database server specifications (in order of importance) are:

Disk Performance

  • Striped disk array or RAID 1+0 using fast 6GB SATA or industrial strength SSD.
    • The goal is to reduce drive latency as much as possible, so more striping is better.
    • Even better is a computer that includes hardware RAID.
    • Notes about RAID 5:
      • if not implemented properly, it can impose significant performance penalties.
      • If high performance and 100% redundancy is required, it is far better to implement the Postgres hot standby server feature on a second server rather than RAID 5. The standby server receives far less I/O than the main server, so it does not have to be as fast.
  • If using linux or FreeBSD, use ZFS or EXT4 for parity/redundancy in the drives
A 500 GB to 1 TB hard drive is sufficient for most databases and a number of backups. This helps make SSD's a good choice.

Memory (RAM)

  • 32 GB of RAM at a minimum.
  • 48 GB or more recommended for larger installations.
  • More, if it's affordable since ram is cheap.

Number of CPUs

  • A server (Mac or PC) with multiple core processors or more.
  • More cores are slightly more important than speed of the CPU. A quad-core i7 will do better than a single-core Xeon
  • today, 4 or 6 core Xeons are quite affordable.

Operating System

  • 64 bit operating system.
  • OS-X 10.14 or later, Linux, Windows Server 2012 or 2016
  • Note: Do not use Windows 10 for any servers - you can't manage software updates
  • Note: Postgres is 10-15% faster on Unix flavours of the OS than Windows flavours.
  • Linux is generally slightly faster than OS X (you will need in-house Linux expertise)
  • gigabit ethernet port.

Ticket Printers

You may want a specialized thermal ticket printer to connect to the network. This allows you to print tickets at the time of sale. A thermal printer's performance is around 3600 tickets per hour (1 a second). These can be configured as ethernet, serial, or parallel devices. If you want to share ticket printers, we recommend only using ticket printers with an ethernet port.

For large volume box office operations, we suggest one ticket printer per Box Office wicket. More printers provide emergency backup. Depending on your requirements, subscription or group sales can elect to have their own printer or share with box office printers. Depending on print volume (and walkups), sharing a ticket printer between one or more box office wickets is supported through an ethernet-capable printer interface.

Report Printers

Theatre Manager will print to most Mac or Windows compatible printers that have drivers already installed. We suggest networked or shared printers.

Hardware Management Policies

To manage hardware requirements, often an organization will purchase one or two new machines each year. We suggest you buy mid-range computing power for the best price/performance ratio and install them in the box office. You can then migrate the box office machines around the organization. Doing this annually, you will have an effective hardware management policy, and users will be happy as the computers can keep up to the new features introduced to the software.