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Troubling Conflict Sepialine 3DS Max


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Hey all!


We have been experiencing a strange conflict between our print tracking software (Sepialine Argos) and 3DS Max. Every time a user prints Argos is engaged and the user is required to input the details of the print for accounting purposes. When this happens it is also kicking off the MAX installer asking if the user wants to install 3DS Max (which is already installed). To confuse matters even more, this is only happening when max is active... Anybody else experienced this? Have any ideas on how we might resolve this?





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Maybe argos and max shares a file of some sort within folder, and everytime you print it changes info in that file, re-install one of the software and make sure you change the file paths that the installation gives you, otherwise, sory man.

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This is something we (Sepialine) have recently become aware of and are actively working with Autodesk to resolve. We saw similar behavior a year ago with AutoCAD 2006, and Autodesk understood and made necessary changes to its installers then. We have put a great deal of time and energy into researching the issue, and the problem lies in the 3DSMax installer and the nature of shared system files. The reason for this is a bit complex, so please bear with me and I'll explain: certain kinds of files - usually dll files - are part of Windows and provide high-level services that are shared by nearly every piece of software written. Many of the user interface elements that you use every day - dropdown lists, checkboxes, etc. - are actually provided by Microsoft in the form of shared dll's or - in our present case - ocx files (which can essentially be thought of as dll's).


Starting with Windows 2000, Microsoft introduced the concept of file ownership via the Microsoft Installer (MSI). File ownership is established during software installation and is meant to make software "self healing." When a critical file becomes missing or corrupt, Windows can correctly identify the origin of the file and either patch it or ask you to provide installation media (e.g. a CD). A software installer should only claim ownership of files that are *unique to that piece of software*. Shared, system-level files - especially those provided by Microsoft - should never be claimed by a third-party developer, be it Autodesk, Sepialine or anyone else.


In this particular case, it would seem that the 3DMax installer lays claim to the system-level mscomctl.ocx file. Our software - like many others - uses that shared file to display basic user interface components. Because the desktop part of our software runs under the SYSTEM account - an account that by design has limited access to the registry - it causes Windows to attempt a "repair" operation on mscomctl.ocx every time the billing dialog launches. You don't see this with other software because most software runs in the context of the currently-logged-in user, not the SYSTEM account as Sepialine's does.


The ultimate solution to this problem is to remove the dependency between 3DSMax and mscomctl.ocx. This would be done by Autodesk in the 3DSMax installer and, as I mentioned earlier, it's a change that Autodesk has made to its installers in the past. Even Microsoft had this problem with its Office suite and changed its installer, too. Fixing the 3DSMax installer would make it a "good Windows citizen" and would eliminate the installer prompts you're currently seeing.


A workaround is to temporarily stop the Windows Installer service during the period during which you're working with 3DSMax. It's not ideal, but it'll let your users work.


None of this is meant to point fingers or to avoid fixing our software; we simply cannot change anything in our software at this point to resolve the problem. Autodesk needs to hear from its customers on this issue and, again, they've been quite responsive in the past. We're as eager as you to see this fixed, so anything further we can do to help, we will.


Ray Bradley


(800) 404-9558

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