Overview of COMPMNGR's web page creation and Internet features in ballroom with limited Internet access
COMPMNGR has a number of features that require access to the Internet, or at least to a suitable local area network (LAN). For example, COMPMNGR can create several web pages an organizer might want to post, including a heat list web page before and during a competition and a scoresheet web page during and after the competition. COMPMNGR has a judges' marking device system based on the judges using their own Internet browser equipped tablet computers or smartphones to use marking form web pages created by COMPMNGR. COMPMNGR allows users to back up their databases to a web page server computer and to use the backups in merge operations. All of these features require a network supporting two types of network access (1) web page access, so competition attendees can navigate to the web pages, and (2) FTP (file transfer protocol) access, so COMPMNGR can upload the web pages it creates to the network server computers and download any required data. According to one experienced COMPMNGR user, only about one-half of hotel ballrooms have adequate Internet access to support those features that require access to a network. This page gives a brief description of what is involved in providing your own LAN so you don't need Internet access. A detailed description is well past the scope of the discussion. Suffice it to say, it needn't cost an arm and a leg. An organizer or scrutineer who wants to provide web page access in the ballroom should be able to afford it for a small fraction of his/her cash flow for one competition.
The main elements in a LAN to support COMPMNGR's network
features are a computer (the LAN server) configured with suitable network
support software and a wireless router. You can buy a suitable router for well
under $50. If you have a spare Windows based computer you can get the required
software for free from the Internet. The tricky part is configuring the software
on the computer, which requires a degree of expertise well past what most COMPMNGR users
(including myself) possess. For present purposes I only will tell you what is
involved and how I approached the problem of developing a test system for a
spare Windows based computer I had on hand. There are three main network support
software elements. The first is a web page server to respond to Internet browser
requests for web pages. The second is an FTP server to allow the COMPMNGR
computer to transfer files (web page and data files) back and forth with the
server computer. The third is software to execute PERL CGI (Common Gateway Interface) scripts,
which are small programs uploaded by COMPMNGR to the server and accessed by
COMPMNGR created web pages for various purposes. The COMPMNGR installation
package contains every CGI script required by COMPMNGR created web pages.
If you would like to read more about the required server
software visit the web sites below:
Web page server - www.apache.com
FTP server - https://filezilla-project.org/
PERL - www.activestate.com/perl
In reading about what would be required to configure the LAN server I realized that the job was well beyond my expertise. So I hired an expert, who assembled my test LAN server in only a few hours. If you are interested in acquiring your own LAN server I suggest you do the same. I can recommend my expert without qualification. His name is Grady Gossard and you can contact him at email@example.com. Incidentally, Grady says that there are better and less expensive ways of providing a LAN server than using a Windows based computer; he says a LINUX based system would be easier to configure. But my Windows test system seemed to work just fine, and I don't plan to develop another one or rent or sell the one I have.