How do workstations determine the server and database connection instructions?

Answer: ExpressMaintenance and ExpressRequest use an ini file to obtain SQL Server, database and other information for connecting to the SQL Server.

By defaults, the name of the ini file follows the naming convention of ApplicationName.ini, for example ExpressMaintenance.ini.  The ini file must reside in the folder with the application exe file.  For example, ExpressMaintenance.ini must reside in the folder with Maintenance.exe.

The minimum contents of the file must be as shown below.  In this example, the program will assume the remaining settings such as SQLLogin=etuser and SQLPassword=etrik22.

[Connection Info]
SQLDatabase=ActualDatabaseName (example: ExpressMaintenance)

If you are using Instances with your SQL Server, the SQL Server name must include the instance name (example: ActualServerName\SQLExpress).

The ini file is best edited using the Notepad text editor.

Notice the space in “Connection Info”.  There is no space in the other entries of the ini file.

Also, make sure this file is in the folder with the program exe file (example: Maintenance.exe).

Give users read permission to the ini file.

Test first at the server and make sure everything works correctly.

Next you will need to create shortcuts on the workstations that point to the exe file on the server computer (example: Maintenance.exe or ExpressRequest.exe).  Make sure they are pointing to the exe file in the same folder where you performed a test on the server computer.

The ini file can also contain additional entries as shown below.  For details on using or disabling the Windows login – click here.

SQLLogin=etuser – The SQL login account to be used for connecting to the SQL Server.  The default value is ‘etuser’.  However, this can be any valid SQL Server login account that has full database ownership (dbo) permission to the database.

SQLPassword=etrik22 – The corresponding password for the SQL login account defined for connecting to the SQL Server.  The default value is ‘etrik22’ for the ‘etuser’ account.  However, this can be any valid password for the login SQL Server account being used.

SQLTimeout=15 – In some network environments, it might be that the workstations require several seconds or even a minute to find and connect to the SQL Server.  By default, ExpressMaintenance only allows 15 seconds to make the SQL Server connection.  You can increase the timeout allowance by adding the SQLTimeout line to the ExpressMaintenance.ini file.  For example, the line item of SQLTimeout=60 increases the allowed time to make the connection to 60 seconds.

UseWindowsAuthentication=Yes/No – Indicates if the program should try connecting to the SQL Server using windows authentication rather than SQL authentication.

UseWindowsLogin=Yes/No – Indicates if the program should obtain the users windows login and use it to login to ExpressMaintenance if it matches, thereby not prompting for the login and password.  This is not the same as the SQL Login account.  This pertains to the ExpressMaintenance account.

The same configuration settings apply to ExpressRequest.  There must be an ini file with the same contents.  ExpressMaintenance and ExpressRequest default to using the ini file with the application name (example: ExpressMaintenance.ini and ExpressRequest.ini).  There is no need to place ini files on the workstations as they should reside in the folder with the application exe file.

If you are having trouble connecting from a workstation, make sure the ini file is setup as outlined above and the workstations have permission to read the file.  Also, increase the timeout setting to allow for slower network connections.

If the problem persists and you have checked the items above, the problem is likely a permission issue with the workstation logging into the SQL Server.  You should then perform an ODBC Windows level test connection as addressed below.

Specifying Different Ini Files

ExpressMaintenance is capable of working with unlimited different databases.  You can setup separate databases for different locations or departments all within the same SQL Server.  You can then specify which database the program is connect to by using different ini files.  You can create multiple ini files with different names but all residing in the folder with the application.  By adding the ini file name as a shortcut parameter, ExpressMaintenance and ExpressRequest will use the specified ini file rather than the default ini file name.  Below is an example of a valid shortcut parameter with the customized ini file specified.  Passing just one parameter will always be interpreted by the program as the name of the ini file it is to use for connection info.

C:\ExpressTech\Maintenance.exe “MyIniFile.ini”

Creating Configuration Ini Files with the Utility (encrypted & non-encrypted)

The ExpressConfig.exe utility is available for setting up, testing and creating connection ini files.  The ExpressConfig.exe program also allows you to specify if the configuration information in the ini file is to be encrypted or non-encrypted.  Encrypted ini files are helpful in safeguarding your SQL login and password information.  You can use any valid SQL login and password that has been setup in your SQL Server and has full dbo permission to the database.  The ExpressConfig.exe application will allow you to create the ini file with encrypted settings. ExpressMaintenance and ExpressRequest will automatically detect that the settings are encrypted and decrypt the settings during execution of the program.  Click here to download ExpressConfig.exe installation program.

Using Parameters Instead of Ini File

You can use shortcut parameters rather than the ini file to direct the program connection.  The list of accepted parameters include the following.  If using parameters, all parameters must be used and must be separated by a space and within quotes.  Below is an example of valid shortcut parameters passing the specifics of the connection info.  Passing all parameters will with the shortcut will force the program to ignore all ini files and use the parameters passed.

C:\ExpressTech\Maintenance.exe “ServerName” “ExpressMaintenance” “etuser” “etrik22” “No” “No”


More Complex Server Definitions

The Server Name can be more complex such as the following”


The above example specifices to use tcp for the connection, followed by a semicolon and then the SQL Server Name followed by the backslash and the SQL Server Instanace Name followed by a comma and the port number on which the instance can be found.  To determine the port number for an instance, go to Start / Programs / Microsoft SQL Server / Configuration Tools / SQL Server Configuration Manager.

In the configuration manager, in left column, select SQL Server Network Configuration and open Protocols for MSSQLServer (Instance Name).    In right column, right click on TCP/IP and select Properties.  There you will find the port number being used by the instance of MS SQL Server Instance.  Also make sure TCP/IP protocol is enabled.

Testing With ODBC

For more information on testing the ‘etuser’ account and creating the account in SQL, please see the tech bulletin on Testing Connection via ODBC or the tech bulletin on creating the ‘etuser’