Software Requests and Versions
Guiding principles regarding requests for software version upgrades
**Software requests are only considered when they come
directly from a faculty or staff member associated with the College of
When you make a request for course software to be installed on CAE computers, there are a number of steps that CAE staff need to take to make that request happen. Here is a general list and rough timeline:
- CAE will determine if the software can be installed in the CAE labs, and decide the upgrade plan and timing for each piece of needed software. Upgrades generally will not be done once the semester is underway, even if a new version becomes available.
- If there is any need for license purchase, upgrade, or modification, this is done next. This can take from 3 days to more than a month, depending on the needs and the specific vendor. New software must be approved by Campus Procurement, even if it is open source or “free" (see below). If the purchase requires a purchase order, this adds at least 3 weeks.
- Once any license purchases or changes are completed, the license is updated on the server (if needed). This can take 1-3 days.
- After all license issues are resolved and the license is working correctly on the server, CAE begins work on deployment to lab workstations. You can expect a minimum of 2 weeks, depending on the time of year and the complexity of the application and install process.
- Once all this is completed, all instructors who requested the software will be contacted and asked to test the software. There's no formal testing process from CAE. At this time, the software may be deployed to a single lab. We ask that you make sure that the software performs correctly for student assignments. Once this is done, the software will be made available in all of the CAE instructional labs.
CAE will not install new software once a windows image is set and deployed for the semester. This generally happens a few weeks before the semester begins. So if you wish to have new software included please contact CAE well before the semester begins, preferably a month or more.
When requesting new software, please provide the following information:
- What is the software? Please provide a brief description on what the software does as well as a website address for the software.
- For what course number(s) is the software to be used?
- What is the approximate number of students to be enrolled in all classes?
- Is this required for class, or optional?
- Can it be installed on laptops/student install version?
- Is there an educational license available?
- Will this be used in the spring semester, fall, or both?
- What is the intent of the department to use this software long term? (1 year, 3-years, multiple years, other?)
- Is there a contact with the software vendor, and if so, who?
- Can you please provide the proposed contract (and all supporting documents, including any linked-out terms and conditions) for review?
- Is there an anticipated cost?
- Are there any special hardware requirements?
- Is there any sensitive information that will be used in the software? (social security numbers, photos, FERPA protected information, payment information, etc).
- Is there any additional information that can be provided?
“Free” is not free.
"Can I sign an agreement for software that the department purchases"
No. Any software, free or purchased, that is required for student use, whether installed on the CAE computers or student laptops, must be reviewed by campus. From UW Legal Affairs:
"Any type of document, whether in letter form, standard contract form, or otherwise, that commits the University to pay another party for goods or services or commits the University to provide goods or services to another, is a contract and may bind the University to its terms. While you may have authority to make purchases for your department using a University purchasing card, or to sign payroll, HR or other documents used for internal University administrative matters, this does not necessarily mean that you have the authority to sign contracts on behalf of the University."
CAE processes course software requests on a semester-by-semester basis. Many software companies don't accommodate our academic calendar, and release upgrades on their own schedule. CAE's priority is to maintain stability and usability of software on our lab workstations. To accomplish this, we use the following guidelines in software upgrade requests:
- A software version released mid-semester will not be available until the next semester. We will make exceptions for bugs or instruction-critical new features. Be aware that not all software packages are automatically updated.
- CAE Windows labs will normally only support one version of a software package at a time. On Windows machines, old versions may briefly remain available following an upgrade to allow for a transition, but are not supported or repaired. Linux labs generally have two versions of software “oldver” and the current version. Linux labs may also have a “newver” available as well.
- When open source software is requested (see below about free software), CAE will offer the most current stable version by default.
Other things to consider for lab installed software:
- Some software, such as Matlab, has such wide use, it is installed and automatically updated out of courtesy.
- Some software, such as Solidworks, is installed due to demanding hardware requirements that are not very suitable for some laptops.
- There are a large number of packages that are requested over time, that are for the convenience of the students. Unless there is a reason it needs to be added to the lab software, it is less likely to be considered.
- Some Linux packages are included in the distro, and are easily installed. These may be considered at any time, if reasonable.