dbMASS 3.5
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This file documents the enhancements and problem fixes provided with dbMASS version 3.5x. Please read to stay up to date on these developments.


----------------------------------------------- Version / Published

    ------------------------------------------------- 3.50 / September 9, 1998

  1. Multiple Selects with Left Mouse Click
  2. Find/Replace Window Enhancements
  3. Display Window Enhancements
  4. Updated dbMASS Report Macros for Word
  5. Entry Field Data Enhancements
  6. Weight Change Tracking Owner Issues
  7. Weight Distribution Enhancements
  8. Reporting Enhancements
  9. Material Density Update Error
  10. Miscellaneous Enhancements
  11. ------------------------------------------------- 3.51 / September 22, 1998

  12. Find/Replace Window
  13. Mouse Display Updates
  14. ------------------------------------------------- 3.52 / October 5, 1998

  15. Class Categories
  16. Memory Leak
  17. Refresh Display & Screen Saver
  18. Entries & Items Window Paste Operation
  19. Miscellaneous Enhancements
  20. ------------------------------------------------- 3.53 / November 3, 1998

  21. Global Mass Properties Update
  22. Class Categories
  23. Miscellaneous Enhancements
  24. ------------------------------------------------- 3.54 / November 15, 1998

  25. Class Report Mass Properties Error
  26. ------------------------------------------------- 3.55 / December 14, 1998

  27. Standard Part List Report
  28. Page Layout Template
  29. Weight Distribution Analysis
  30. ------------------------------------------------- 3.56 / February 2, 1999

  31. Class Field Memory Problem
  32. Update to dbMASS 99
  33. ------------------------------------------------- 3.57 / February 18, 1999

  34. Principal Window Update
  35. Global Mass Properties Update Fix
  36. ------------------------------------------------- 3.58 / February 23, 1999

  37. Database Maintenance Invalid Record Number
  38. Maximum Number of Databases within Directory

1. Multiple Selects with Left Mouse Click

Previous versions of dbMASS supported using the mouse drag select to make multiple selections. With this release, you can now use [Shift]-Left Mouse Click and [Ctrl]-Left Mouse Click for this purpose. They work similarly to the way the [key]-mouse click combinations work in the Windows Explorer when used to select multiple files or directories. The dbMASS windows that support this feature include the entries, items, distribution bins and distribution bin windows. This feature can also be used when selecting from lists for deleting projects, installations, assemblies, parts, standard parts, reports, sequences and weight distributions.

To use, hold the [Shift] key down while clicking the left mouse button on the first line you would like to select. Then move to the last line of a continuous list of lines that you want to select and again use the [Shift]-left click combination. All lines between the first and last line selected will be highlighted. Individual lines can be selected or deselected (toggled) using the [Ctrl]-left click.

The [Shift]-left click can also be used in conjunction with the [Ctrl]-left click to select multiple discontinuous groups of lines. In this way it differs from the Windows implementation. This feature is used in all of the dbMASS windows previously mentioned with the exclusion of the selection from a list generated by the delete operation. The [Shift]-left click actually will select all entries between the current line and the closest previously selected line. So, if you select one continuous group, you can select another by selecting the first line with the [Ctrl]-left click and then the last line with a [Shift]-left click. Experiment with this feature to gain a thorough understanding. With the delete lists, only one continuous selection can be made on a single page. Additional groups can be selected using the "and" vocabulary operation.

The mouse drag select operation continuous to work as it did in previous dbMASS versions. However, it never did work properly with the Windows NT version. Therefore, if you are using Windows NT with a dbMASS NT version, make use of the [Shift] and [Ctrl] -left mouse click operations.


2. Find/Replace Window Enhancements

The find/replace window has had several new fields added that can be chosen for either the search or replace criteria. These fields include: configuration, effectivity and material. The functionality of the window otherwise remains unchanged. Use this new field support to quickly locate entries with an assigned configuration, effectivity or material. Then through the replace operation make new assignments to these or other fields.

A special note with regards to the configuration and effectivity fields. When a configuration or effectivity has not been assigned an entry, dbMASS displays the default description for the corresponding field. If you wish to find entries that are using these defaults, search for an unassigned (blank) configuration or effectivity.


3. Display Window Enhancements

Display Window Cut Operation. The display window cut icon has been implemented to remove the most recently "identified" item or point from the display. You can use this feature to reduce display clutter. Also, if you are having difficulty "identifying" a particular item because other items have the same or similar display pick points, you can remove them from the display so that the item of interest can be easily selected. You can also use Ctrl-x to activate the cut operation from the keyboard once an item or point has been selected with the mouse.

Display Window 4-View Mode. Several display buttons are disabled when the display is in 4-view mode. These include the rotate, zoom, default/isometric view and identify buttons located along the right side of the window. Previously, these icons were indicating that they were deactivated but they could still be used to manipulate the display in undesirable ways. They are now fully disabled when indicated as such.


4. Updated dbMASS Report Macros for Word

Active Database Directory Fix. Whenever the dbMASS Report Macro is used to open a dbMASS report it should automatically initialize the file open window in the most recent dbMASS active directory (directory that contains the active database). Under some circumstance the dbMASS active directory was being miss-identified. This problem has been fixed.   

Deleting Last Line of Report Fix. The last line of report data was mistakenly being deleted in reports that were based on report layouts. This problem has been fixed.

Installation. The new versions are v1.1 for Word 6 or 7 and v2.0a for Word 8. You can check the installed version number by using the Word dbMASS/about command. If you have an earlier version installed, you will need to first uninstall it. Use the following procedure to install the latest dbMASS Report Macros:  

  1. Start Word and delete the existing dbMASS report macros and menu item as follows: Use the Tools/Macro... command to open the Macro window. (If you do not see the Tools menu, first open a document.) Select each macro listed beginning with a name of dbMASS and use the delete button. Close the Macro window. Then select the Tools/Customize... menu pick. (If you do not see a "Customize..." menu option, use a right mouse click on a toolbar and select "Customize..." from the pop-up menu.) Select the menus tab on the Customize window. Then select the Menu Bar button located on the right of the window. Scroll to the bottom of the menus list and locate "&dbMASS". Remove it with the button provided. Close Menu Bars and Customize windows.
  2. From Word, open the dbMASS\MSWord\install.doc file and follow the installation instructions. Restart Word.
  3. You will need to update your variables (header and footer data) to restore values you previously defined.

Tweaked Report Widths. A couple of changes have been made to reports to minimize the length of the longest line. By reducing the longest line a larger font can be selected without causing line wrapping in the Word formatted document. Two reports affected are the "Entry Tree List" and the "History" reports. You will notice a better font selection made when importing these reports into Word.


5. Entry Field Data Enhancements

Add Field and Field Type Changes. A few changes have been made to the add field and field type windows. The available field types have been rearranged and the data and time fields have been removed. These field types were never implemented and no one has expressed a need for them.

Summation Field Comments. The summation field type has been available for some time. However, there have recently been a few questions about its use. The summation field type is used to allocate a value to parts and have the values summed for the next assemblies. Once defined, summation fields can be added to report layouts to see the values sorted either by the drawing tree structure or by any class field. Summation fields are associated with the entry records. They are not available at the location level.

Fixed Field Data Transfer Problem. When transferring data between databases, the field data of the two databases involved are compared by the field descriptions given to them and their type. When two fields match in these respects, they are assumed to be the same and field data is transferred accordingly. The field description is given at the time that the field is added to the database. The description can be changed at any time by clicking on the field description and then typing the return key. Use this procedure to ensure that fields that are meant to be the same or different between database have the compatible descriptions. A bug was recently discovered that could cause two identical fields to fail to be considered the same when they were edited from their original descriptions. This problem has been fixed.


6. Weight Change Tracking Owner Issues

Weight change tracking history data, when transferred between databases, can cause a user's account to be copied to the database receiving the data. This occurs when there is weight change data associated with a user's account, the entry that the weight change is recorded against is transferred and the database being copied to does not have an account defined for that user. This transferring of account information is required to maintain the weight change history for that user. If you do not want a user to have access to the database that you copied information to, then you will need to check their permission status. Once a user account is established, subsequent weight change history transfers will not affect their permission status. 

A bug has been identified and repaired that would show up when a non-owner copied a database. The person who makes a copy of a database automatically  becomes the owner of the new copy. Previously, the new owner also assumed the weight change history of the previous owner. Now, the original owner's weight changes will reflect the correct user even though they are no longer the owner of the database.

There was also a bug discovered that could cause a user with read only access to a database to temporarily get owner level access to the users' accounts. With this temporary access a read only user could change all users' permissions. This problem has been fixed.

The logic has always been to make the administrator of a copied database the administrator for the dbMASS seat making the copy. This way, if you receive a database from another source that has a different administrator, you can copy the database to make yourself the owner of the new copy and your dbMASS administrator the administrator for your copy. Logic has been added to change the original administrator to a user of the copy if the administrator had weight changes logged for the account.


7. Weight Distribution Enhancements

When working with weight distribution bin definitions one defines the bin boundaries using a box in the same way as the box shape is defined for items. As done in the box shape, the points are now synchronized with changes to the box length and width dimensions. Likewise, changes to point two and three will affect the box length and width respectively.

A memory leak was also discovered in the distribution bins window that has been eliminated. This will help to improve dbMASS performance.


8. Reporting Enhancements

Report Description and Path. The report description and file path have been added to the top of the principal report. This was the only remaining fixed format report that did not contain this information. Also, the filename field in the report layouts now includes the full path of the file.

Configuration and Effectivity Reporting. The weight history report now includes the configuration and effectivity information with the entry history data. Also, the history and entry list reports have been fixed to list each unique entry once. Previously, the same entry would sometimes appear multiple times if different configurations / effectivities existed for an entry.

Report Layout Cell Definitions. A right mouse click can be used to define a new or edit an existing report layout cell. This feature avoids having to move the mouse to the top-left corner of the report layout window to use the "new" or "edit" button. Just right-click in the desired open space for a new cell or right-click on an existing cell to edit or view its definition. This feature was previously available but there were some bugs that could cause report layout cells to move when it was used. The bugs have been ironed out and all appears to be working well.

To improve clarity, the window label when editing an existing cell now reads "defined cell" vs. "define cell" for adding a new cell. Right below the "defined cell" window label is a toggle mode button that when selected toggles the cell between being visible or hidden. Hidden cells are ignored or left blank when reports are generated. Hidden report layout cells continue to be displayed in the layout with their text dotted out. Use this feature to temporarily disable portions of a report layout without having to delete the cell definitions.

The indent characters have been removed from the Sub-Elements section of a report. That is, if any characters other than spaces are used, they are now replaced by spaces in the report. We found the added characters for this section increased the clutter without adding any appreciable insight. The indent characters are still used for the main body of the report which is where the parent/child relationships are given. Also, the indent characters for the body now start at the column where the first cell in the body is located. Previously, they always started in column one.

Class Category Weights Summation Error. A logic error was fixed that could cause the last top level category and its sub-categories in a class category structure to not be totaled correctly. This error would show itself by giving a total class weight which would be less than the weight of the entry being reported on.


9. Material Density Update Error

A problem with editing material densities has been isolated and fixed. This particular bug could cause dbMASS to crash if the part being edited had items that were previously deleted. If you ever experience an error while modifying a material density that would crash dbMASS, it was probably due to this bug. Let us know if you experience any further problems.


10. Miscellaneous Enhancements

Year 2000 Compliance. dbMASS has been tested and has no year 2000 compliance issues. The history report was the only thing that required a minor modification to achieve compliance. The history report will continue to display the year as a two digit value for year 2000 and beyond.

Improved WinNT Version Startup. The process of locating the dbMASS security key has been improved to give faster key verification.

Sign-in Screen Bug Fix. Some of our new users recently found a bug in the sign-in screen that could cause dbMASS to hang. New users are great at finding new ways of doing things that were not anticipated. The problem has been fixed. 

Home/End Key Usage. The [Home] and [End] keys can be used in the entries and items window to move to the last or first entry/item in the list. This feature has been refined. Use this feature to move quickly within these windows.

Fixed Entries Window Quantity Activation. When adding an entry to the entries window that already contains a full page of entries, the quantity field was not being activated. The location button was made active instead. This was corrected so that the quantity field is always activated after adding an entry.

Fixed "shape type" Window Label. When assigning a shape to an item the shape type window opens to list the available shapes. This window was incorrectly labeled as "assigned to". 

Fixed "0." Display. If you ever typed 0. in a numeric field you may have noticed that the 0 was transformed into what looked like an open parenthesis. This display problem has been fixed.


11. Find/Replace Window

Stop Watch. The mouse cursor now indicates during the find/replace search that the processing must finish before you can make another request. This is indicated with the "stop watch" mouse cursor.

Initialization Problem. The find/replace window in version 3.50 was not properly initialized which could cause an "Illegal ALL_C Usage" error. This problem was corrected.

12. Mouse Display Updates

In the past, mouse cursor changes were not being displayed until the mouse was moved. Now, when a mouse cursor change is made, the change will be displayed without requiring a mouse movement.


13. Class Categories

Category Lists. When selecting a class field (data button given in Fields Window) for an entry, a list of categories that can be assigned to the entry or its location is presented. If there is only one possible selection, the list is not presented. A situation was identified in which some of the possible categories were not being displayed. This bug has been fixed.

Reporting Filter. When a report is created which uses a report layout that includes the sub elements section and has a class report bases (vs. drawing tree) you are asked whether you want to limit the report entry lists to a specific category and its sub categories. In the past, selecting a category only limited which entries would be listed in the sub elements section; the complete class category structure continued to be shown. However, if the particular category selected, or one of its sub categories, occurred multiple times in the class structure, all instances of the commonly referenced categories would include their sub element entry lists. This was particularly undesirable when the commonly referenced category was something like "attachment hardware" which typically has many entries with that assignment.

As an improvement to this filtering process, now the class structure presented in the report is limited to categories that are supers to the selected category, the selected category and its sub categories. The entry lists will only be shown for the selected category and its sub categories, not every instance of the sub categories that may occur elsewhere in the class structure. However, if the selected category occurs multiple places in the class structure, each instance will be included along with the entry lists for it and its sub categories.


14. Memory Leak

A memory leak was identified in the dbMASS database that would cause a small amount of memory to be lost, making it no longer available for dbMASS processing. This memory leak, if it occurred often enough, would cause dbMASS to run slower or possibly run out of memory. If you have ever experienced running out of memory while copying data between databases, the identified memory leak was probably the cause. This memory leak has been eliminated.

15. Refresh Display & Screen Saver

Sometimes when Windows switches from the Windows desktop or another application to dbMASS the dbMASS display gets glitched. That is, the color may be different than the dbMASS standard set or a portion of the screen will have lines across it or some other deformation. The frequency and severity of this display problem is not consistent and varies from PC to PC. Although these unintended alterations to the dbMASS display are only cosmetic in nature, they have presented anything from a mild irritation to a major nuisance. A couple of steps have been taken to remedy this situation. You can now manually select to refresh the dbMASS display by typing [Alt] and then [G]. This will reset the dbMASS color palette and redisplay the entire screen.

The screen saver feature of dbMASS has been modified to use this refresh feature. The screen saver will still dim the display after a period of a little more than 5 minutes but it will now refresh the entire display when the mouse is moved or a key is typed. This should eliminate the need to manually refresh the display with the [Alt] [G] key sequence when you [Alt]-[Tab] or use the "Windows" button to switch to another Windows task and you don't return back to dbMASS until after the dbMASS screen saver has activated.


16. Entries & Items Window Paste Operation

Found and fixed a problem that could occur when entries or items were pasted in the Entries or Items Window. This problem could previously occur when more than one Entries or Items Window was open and entries or items were being added to them. The result would be that the entries or items didn't appear or they appeared in a different place in the list then where they were pasted. This problem could also corrupt the indexing for the assembly relationships table.


17. Miscellaneous Enhancements

Add Entry Window. The width of the Add Entry Window was increased by two characters to be consistent with the "select descriptor" window.

Database Messages. The "Access denied." and "Unable to locate requested database." messages have been expanded to include the database description and the full path to the database catalog file.

Indexing Bug Fix. Isolated a bug that most often showed itself when building and modifying a class category structure. This indexing bug would cause some category relationships to not be displayed. In the past, if this situation occurred, a database repair was required to identify and repair the indices before all of the category relationships were properly shown. With this situation now fixed, indexing problems should be significantly reduced if not eliminated.

Temporary File. Rebuilding the indices for a database table left a temporary file on the disk. This file is now deleted.


18. Global Mass Properties Update

In the past when you requested to update the mass properties (via the database update command) and included the parts, the parts' mass properties would be recalculated by totaling the items mass properties (unless user defined mass properties were provided).  This normally would be sufficient unless you experience a crash after having changed a material density.  For this case some items mass properties would not correctly reflect the new material density if it hadn't been updated prior to the programs termination.  To account for this situation the recalculation or parts' mass properties now includes the recalculation of items' mass properties.


19. Class Categories

Cross Linked Categories.  Fixed a problem that could cause class categories from one class to be reference in another class.  This could occur if two classes had categories with the same description.  It required editing a category from one class to give it the same description used in another.   The class categories are intended to be independent for each class field.   Tests to identify cross reference categories have been incorporated into the database repair operation.  The repair will correct references where the matching category already exists for the class field, however if the category does not exist, the reference is dropped from the class category structure.  This explains why a class field category structure may change after running the repair command.

Inserting Categories.  Normally when a category is inserted in a class structure the category is placed as a peer to the category it is being insert over.  However, when adding categories to the end of a class structure it is inserted as a peer to the preceding category.  In the past this practice was somewhat confusing if the preceding displayed category was an unexpanded (+) top level category.   In this case the added category seemed to disappear because it would be added as a peer to a category that wasn't displayed (sub of unexpanded category).  Now, if the preceding category is unexpanded, the added category is added as a peer to the preceding unexpanded category.

Class Field Description.  The class field description is now given in the Class Window with the select/edit mode status.


20. Miscellaneous Enhancements

Factor Field Description.  The factor field description is now given in the Factor Window with the select/edit mode status.   Factor fields are provided with Cost Tracking Module.

Sequence Window.  The Cut Button has been added to the Sequence Window to support removing configuration and/or effectivity assignments.

Clear Numeric Values.  You can now use the Cut Button or the [Ctrl][X] to clear any numeric field.  This is convenient to use when you want to enter a new value different from the present one.

Offset Point.  When the display icons are in "point mode" you can add points to a display by offsetting a new point relative to an existing point. You do this with the use of the offset icon button.  In the past, once you selected this icon you would have to add a point.  A close button has been added to the Offset Window so that you can now use it to abort this process.

User Defined Mass Properties.  The messages which ask whether you would like user defined weight for items or any mass properties value for parts to be overwritten have been modified to clarify them.  When an item has user defined weight and you make a change to the item's shape definition the message will now read: "Convert user defined item weight to calculated weight?"   When a part has user defined mass properties and you make a change to any of its item's mass properties the message will now read: "Convert user defined part mass properties to calculated mass properties?"


21. Class Report Mass Properties Error

A problem was identified that could produce an error in the mass properties reported in a class based report.  The error would only occurred when a cg located entry contained cg located entries.  The error, if present, was observed when one compared the class cg or inertia to the reported on entry cg or inertia.   The problem has been corrected.


22. Standard Part List Report

A new report type has been added to the dbMASS Standard Module for listing all of the standard parts in a database. Open the Report Window by reporting on any entry in the database. The selected entry is not important. You will see a "standard part list" report type listed in the drop down list. Select this report type and then "Create" the report. The report simply lists the id, description and weight of all the standard parts in the database sorted by Id.

23. Page Layout Template

The Template Window has been modified to include the number of lines established for each section. The Template Window is opened by pressing the template button in the Report Layout Window. The number of lines can be modified directly in this window. The changes made will be reflected in the layout after you press the continue button. This feature presents an alternative to using the mouse drag operations to control the height of each section in the layout.

24. Weight Distribution Analysis

There were a couple of weight distribution analysis bugs identified and corrected. The first bug affected the subdivision of paraboloids. It would show itself with an error message, "Incorrect item weight." This error would occur only for non-solid paraboloids typically resulting in minor errors in the mass properties for the distributed item.

The second bug affected all shapes except for the box and wedge. This problem would affect the amount of time required to perform the analysis but would have negligible impact on the results. What we found was that for a wall thickness less than the resolution, the dimensions of the subdivided shape (cubelettes) were being limited by the thickness instead of the resolution. For example, if a wall thickness of 0.1 was used with a resolution of 2, the subdivisions of the item shape would have a maximum dimension limited by 0.1 instead of 2. This would dramatically increase the number of subdivisions used to break up the particular item's shape. Having corrected this problem, you may find that the weight distribution analysis is significantly faster especially if you used thin wall thickness.

Elliptic Cylinder and Ellipsoid Shapes. Another issue that was addressed for weight distribution analysis was the use of the elliptic cylinder and ellipsoid shapes. Previously, if these shapes were assigned to an item there was no subdivision of the shape even if it crossed bin or slice boundaries. The full mass properties were summed into the bin/slice in which the c.g. of the item occurred. Pending further more detailed development for the handling of these shapes a temporary enhancement has been made. This enhancement will substitute a cylinder for an elliptic cylinder and a sphere for the ellipsoid when it needs to be subdivided. The radius of the cylinder is set to the average of the major and minor axis terms, b and c. The radius of the sphere is set to the average of the major and minor axis terms, a, b and c. The correct weight will continue to be distributed but the location and orientation of the subdivisions for these shapes will produce variations in the totaled inertias for the item. The error will be dependent on the variation of the actual shape and the shape used.


25. Class Field Memory Problem

A potential problem has been identified that given the right conditions could corrupt a small portion of memory. This condition could create unpredictable memory corruption that may have resulted in crashes, invalid record numbers, ...etc. It could have potentially occurred whenever working with class field data. This included doing background and foreground processing for class assignment updates, opening the Class Window and creating class based reports. The problem has been fixed. This was not a new problem. This problem has existed since class fields have been supported. This bug should serve as a reminder that things can go wrong in unpredictable ways. Make frequent backups to protect your data.

26. Update to dbMASS 99

The dbMASS Command Window has been updated to reflect the current year, 1999. Now when you start dbMASS the top level Window will read dbMASS 99.


27. Principal Window Update

The Principal Window has been updated to make it more user friendly. The buttons have been renamed from "cosine", "arc cosine", and "projection" to "transformation", "angles", and "projections", respectively. A toggle button was also added to the transformation view to enable viewing the transformation matrix either as from reference to principal or from principal to reference coordinate systems.

28. Global Mass Properties Update Fix

A bug was found and repaired in the Database Update command process. This bug could cause items with user defined weight (overtyped calculated value) to be mistakenly overwritten with calculated values. This problem would occur if you requested to recalculate the mass properties and included the parts. User defined part weights were not affected by this bug.


29. Database Maintenance Invalid Record Number

A bug was corrected in database maintenance operations that could previously occur after deleting or removing databases from the select database list. An invalid record number error would occur and in some instances the active database description would appear lost or corrupted. Restarting dbMASS would clear the problem.

30. Maximum Number of Databases within Directory

The maximum number of databases allowed in one directory is 99. Improved performance is achieved with fewer databases. Generally it is best to create a new directory for each database, especially for your major databases.

Previously, if you attempted to import data (using one of the import translators) into a full directory, the new database that would be used to hold the imported data would fail to be created. You would be notified of this failure but then the import translation would continue to import the data into the active database. Now you are informed that the selected directory is full and the import process is aborted.