Citrix, Mail Merges, and You
January 31, 2008 12:48 PM   Subscribe

I’m having a hell of a time getting a bunch of mail merge documents to play nice with a Citrix Presentation Server setup, and I’d appreciate any thoughts anybody might have.

The facts:

1. I administer a freshly-installed app built by a third party out of MS Office components. The bulk of the app is an Access .mde reading data out of an SQL database, outputting data into an .rtf that feeds several mail merge templates, all of which are set to look for $universalfilename.rtf

2. Because we’re an all-Mac institution, we had to install the app on a Citrix Presentation Server. The SQL db sits on a second server. People within the museum access the app through a Citrix desktop client. While this is a non-standard installation, our vendor tells us it’s been done before.

3. Everything works well except: The aforementioned mail merge documents are the basis for the app’s reporting functions. In a standard installation, the app and the templates sit on one local machine that reads data from a SQL installation on a server. The are templates in C:\appname\templates, feeding their data from c:\Temp\$universalfilename.rtf . In our installation, though, the templates sit on the Citrix box, M:\appname\templates; to prevent multiple users from overwriting each others’ report results, their rtf output is set to go into a W:\ drive that gets mapped on the SQL server whenever they open their Citrix client.

4. This doesn’t work. The merge templates on the Citrix box don’t connect reliably to the .rtf on the SQL server. When I open one and get the “can not find data” message, I can easily navigate over to W:\temp . I can save this reconnected template without an error. But when it’s reopened, it can’t find the datasource.

5. Other pertinent facts: the locked-down nature of the app prevents me from just setting up my own fucking reports in Access, which I’d much prefer; this merge/RTF business is clunky, but it’s what I’m stuck with. And while the vendors are the logical people to ask for help with this, their standard response has been “figure it out yourself.” Both servers are running Windows Server 2003 SP2

Anybody have anything?
posted by COBRA! to Computers & Internet (4 answers total)
I don't think it does; the problem isn't really in the app itself, just in the templates it relies on.

I should add: the Citrix setup itself was done by University IT people (I'm at a midsized art museum inside a gigantor state university) with a lot more networking experience than me; their opinion is that the networking side is fine, and it's all a problem within MS Word. Which isn't very helpful for me.
posted by COBRA! at 1:07 PM on January 31, 2008

User permissions issues?
posted by gjc at 6:10 PM on January 31, 2008

I wouldn't say it's an issue with Word. It almost sounds like it's something hard-coded within their to look for the RTF in c:\temp, come hell or high water. Instead of outputting the files to a mapped drive, is there any reason you can't just use the user's temp directory on the Citrix box? Every user that launches that app will have a profile where you can put some of the output. You can try entering in %temp% into the output path. If the app's written properly, it should be able to expand the variable to the user's temp.

Can you find a standalone machine where you can confirm it works in this configuration (with the output going to a mapped drive)? We've got some 14,000 users using about 1100 published apps, and the only issues we have are with the poorly designed crap that doesn't grok that paths should never be assumed...
posted by Spoonman at 10:48 AM on February 1, 2008

I created some new templates from scratch in the same directory as the ones that don't work; same behavior. So, as far as I can tell, the problem isn't anything hard-coded in the app.
posted by COBRA! at 1:45 PM on February 1, 2008

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