dbMASS 3.6
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This file documents the enhancements and problem fixes provided with dbMASS version 3.6. Please read to stay up to date on these developments.


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

    ------------------------------------------------- 3.60 / March 5, 1999

  1. Items Window Fixes
  2. Entries Window Class Update Notification
  3. Random Keystrokes at Startup
  4. dbMASS Word Macros Update
  5. ------------------------------------------------- 3.61 / March 22, 1999

  6. Handling of Create Directory Failure
  7. Find/Replace Window Up/Down Arrow Bug
  8. ------------------------------------------------- 3.62 / March 29, 1999

  9. Editing Field Descriptions
  10. Notes Window Fixes
  11. Adding Databases with Read-Only Access
  12. ------------------------------------------------- 3.63 / May 4, 1999

  13. Invalid Inertia Shapes
  14. Part Display Information
  15. Swap File Creation
  16. Import Translator Memory Fix
  17. Databases with Read-Only Access
  18. ------------------------------------------------- 3.64 / July 10, 1999

  19. Revised IDEAS Import Translator
  20. Inertia Shape Sanity Check Fix
  21. Screen Capture Feature
  22. Page Down or Page Up Bug Fix

1. Items Window Fixes

A problem was identified and repaired in the Items Window that would occur when working with items beyond the first page. Each item that was added could potentially corrupt up to 4 bytes of memory. Typically, this would corrupt information stored in open dbMASS windows and you would either see the displayed data become corrupted or you would receive a cryptic error message.

When adding new items to the last line of a full page (15 lines of items), the items automatically scroll up after entering the item description and either tabbing or pressing the [Enter] key. The quantity field of the item just added should have been activated after the scrolling action, however it was not. This problem has been fixed so that the associated quantity field is appropriately activated. Also, when adding a new item to an existing blank line that appears other than at the bottom of the Items Window, the shape button was not being enabled. This problem has been fixed so that once a description for the item is defined you will be able to open the associated shape window.

2. Entries Window Class Update Notification

You will notice a change when closing the Entries Window if you use Class Fields. You will no longer be asked whether to "Reevaluate each affected class category assignment?" Responding "Yes" caused all location class categories to be reevaluated for all entries listed in the Entries Window. Whereas, the default "No" response would only determine the location class category assignments for entry locations that have an entry class category assignment but not a location category.

You can still cause all class category assignments to be reevaluated by selecting the class field button in the entry Fields Window for the particular project, installation or assembly. The removal of the notification makes working with class fields more transparent.

3. Random Keystrokes at Startup

A few users have experienced what appear to be random keystrokes being typed to the dbMASS screen after it was first started. This is believed to be a Windows 9x problem, however, a fix has been added to prevent this from happening in the future.

4. dbMASS Word Macros Update

A few minor changes have been made to the dbMASS Word Macros documentation. Both the Install and Help documents have been updated.


5. Handling of Create Directory Failure

The Path Window supports creating new directories when creating or copying a database. However, if the request failed to create a specified directory, no message was provided to inform you of this failure. This limitation has been corrected. Now if the create directory requests fails a message is provided: "Unable to create specified directory." This will occur if the directory name given already exists or is invalid. It will also occur if you do not have write access to the particular directory/drive.

6. Find/Replace Window Up/Down Arrow Bug

In the Find/Replace Window you can specify the "include only subs of" entry by activating this field. When this field is activated the Add Entry Window is opened so that you can choose the entry of interest. You can either type in the id directly or select the entry by using the find button. When using the find button you first need to select the type of entry you are looking for. To select the type of entry you can use the drop down list or us the up/down arrow buttons (or keys) to step through the various types. If the up/down arrows were used to decrement down from an assembly or up from a project, dbMASS would produce a "Task No" error and terminate. This problem has been corrected so that you can use the arrow keys to step through all allowed entry types.


7. Editing Field Descriptions

As you probably know, class fields are added to the entry and location Fields Windows when a class field is created. When editing a class field description the description for both the entry's field and the location field need to be similarly modified. In the past, if you wanted to modify a class field description you would need to edit both descriptions. Now modifying either description will automatically modify the other.

You may have noticed that the field descriptions for the location Field Window always end with an asterisk (*). This practice is maintained so that you can distinguish between the entry and location fields when selecting them for use in custom report layouts. Enhancements have been added to ensure this practice is consistently applied even when you edit the descriptions.

The Fields Window label has been changed to "location fields" for the window when it is opened from the Location Window. This is one more way to clarify that the fields that you are working with are location specific. The Fields Window when opened from the Part, Assembly, Installation, and Project Windows remains labeled as "fields."

8. Notes Window Fixes

A couple of issues that have surfaced with the Notes Window have been fixed. The word warp routine previously could cause a single word to occupy a line even though subsequent words would have fit on the line. This could occur when many spaces where used on a preceding line to force a line feed. The second issue is more insidious.

Over the years we've had a couple of users that started to see their entry notes change in what appeared to be a random fashion. The note for one entry might be replaced by another and the first letter was being dropped. We believe we now understand what was causing this problem and have added a fix. With this update you should no longer see new occurrences of this problem. Let us know if you do. The problem can also be corrected by following the procedure titled "Database Cleanup" given in the dbMASS\ReadMe\FAQdbMAS.doc file.

9. Adding Databases with Read-Only Access

Previously, if you tried to add an unlisted database to the list of databases given in the "Select Database Window", you may have come across a situation where you were unable to add it. This could occur if you had Read-Only access permission (as administered by the operating system, not dbMASS) to the directory or the database files. In this situation the catalog file for the database would appear in the Path Window but when selected would not be added to the list of databases. Now, the database will be added.


10. Invalid Inertia Shapes

The inertia shape feature of dbMASS provides shapes for parts that have known mass properties. An inertia shape models the mass properties of the part. It also provides an image of the part when it is displayed. This feature is automatically ran after pressing the items button for a part that has no items assigned, but that does have mass and inertia values defined. Inertia shapes are also created when data is imported into dbMASS with the various available translators. To learn more about this feature look up "inertia shape" in the index of the dbMASS User's Manual.

Normally, if invalid mass properties are given, the inertia shape feature will fail to create a shape. However, we discovered some conditions where the algorithms used to create the inertia shape would "blow up" and create an invalid shape. It was obvious when this occurred because the inertias would be several orders of magnitude larger than the initial assigned values and the shape would dominate the display. The conditions which created this failure mode have been identified and corrected.

11. Part Display Information

dbMASS automatically calculates and saves display information for all entries. This display information is used to initialize the Display Window so that the image is scaled and positioned to display within the allotted display area. The initial scale and position are set so that the image can be rotated about the center point without clipping the image. If you find that the displayed image of an entry appears smaller than what is required to fit in the display area, this is an indication that there may be parts that are located incorrectly.

Normally, when a part doesn't have a displayed shape, the display point for the part is set to its c.g. This way the part can be included in the display scale calculation and the displayed image of a next assembly will be scaled to include this part as a point mass. We found that imported parts that did not have inertia shapes created were not having their display point set to their c.g. This problem has been corrected.

The database update command will recalculated the display information for assemblies, installations and projects if you select to update the mass properties. The parts will also be recalculated if you choose to include updating the parts. We discovered that parts without items were not previously having their display information correctly set. This problem has also been corrected.

12. Swap File Creation

dbMASS creates a file used for swapping information that is in memory to disk. You can specify where you would like this temporary file to be stored with the use of the TEMP environment variable. This environment variable is set by using the following line of text in the autoexec.bat file: "SET TEMP=C:\TEMP" (less quotation marks). This file is located in the root directory of the boot drive except for Windows NT which uses autoexec.nt which is located in the \WinNT\SYSTEM directory. Replace the path given (C:\TEMP) with the full path of the directory you would prefer to use. Make sure that the directory exists and that you have write permission to it. You should always use a local drive (one contained on your computer) for this purpose.

In the past, if TEMP was set to a directory that did not exist or could not be written to, dbMASS would fail to initialize properly on startup. An error message would notify you of this failure. If the TEMP variable wasn't defined, the file would be written to the active directory at startup. Now, if the TEMP variable isn't defined or defined incorrectly, the swap file is written to the dbMASS directory. This is a temporary file that has its size reduced to 0 when exiting dbMASS.

Also, a file used to track the memory usage of your dbMASS installation is now always written to the dbMASS directory. This file, memory.log, previously would appear in the active database directory.

13. Import Translator Memory Fix

A memory allocation problem was identified and fixed in the import translator area. This problem was limited to specific dbMASS configurations. The tell tale symptom that you experienced this problem would be that the window labels would start being displayed with a smaller font. Also, other erratic behavior may have occurred, like the calculator would not work properly or if you tried to import additional data dbMASS would crash. Restarting dbMASS would previously fix the problem. This problem should no longer occur. If you do experience a problem with importing data, let us know.

14. Databases with Read-Only Access

dbMASS provides database access control features with the Weight Change Tracking Module. With this module you can control who has read, write and delete permissions with you dbMASS databases. This feature does not provide a high level of security for your data but is provided to allow you to control access in situations where you have trusted users that will not intentionally do anything malicious. To establish a higher level of security use the operating system (OS) to control who has access to your data. Windows NT provides better security features than Windows 95 or 98. With Windows 2000 you will also be able to encrypt your data.

dbMASS now supports working on databases which the OS limits access to read-only. Previously, dbMASS did not support accessing databases when the OS controlled the database files or directory to read-only access.

When the access of a user to a particular database is limited to read-only either by dbMASS or the OS, dbMASS limits the type of operations that can be performed. You can pretty much view any data but you will not be able to change it. One exception to this rule is that you can change the working units but the changes will not be saved. dbMASS will also allow you to create and delete reports on a database you have read-only access to. If the OS is limiting access to read-only you will not be able to create or delete reports. This is the only difference in operations supported between the dbMASS and the OS implemented read-only modes.

Licenses without the Weight Change Tracking Module can use the OS to control access to databases. dbMASS will switch into read-only mode should access be limited in this way.


15. Revised IDEAS Import Translator

The makers of I-deas, SDRC, have made changes that affect the way that the mass properties data is retrieved from their application. These changes required updates to the dbMASS program script file and to the dbMASS import translator.

To update your I-deas installation copy the new program script files (*.prg) found in the dbMASS\I-deas directory on your PC to the dbMASS directory found in your user account home directory. This update is required if you are using I-deas version 6 or later.

You may also notice that the import vocabulary selection for I-deas has changed from "IDEAS Masters" to "ideas masters."

16. Inertia Shape Sanity Check Fix

The inertia shape sanity check feature that was added in version 3.63 had a limitation that was identified and fixed. The limitation would cause some valid inertia shapes to be incorrectly discarded resulting in no shape assignment.


17. Screen Capture Feature

You can copy the dbMASS screen to the Windows buffer when using Windows 9x by using the [Print Scrn] key while dbMASS is in full screen mode. Normally the display will briefly flash as this copying is performed. Once copied you can easily paste the saved image into any Windows application that supports this operation. If you are running dbMASS on the Windows NT operating system or if for some other reason the [Print Scrn] key does not work, a different method is required.

For Windows NT you must first create the image you would like to capture in dbMASS then use the [Alt]-[Return] keys to display dbMASS within a Window (Hold down the [Alt] key while pressing and releasing the [Return] key.) Once dbMASS is displayed within a Window you can selectively highlight any rectangular region of the screen you would like to copy. To do this click on the dbMASS or MS-DOS icon located at the top left corner of the window and select Edit/Mark from the drop-down vocabulary list. Then click and drag over the region you would like copied. Then release the mouse key and either hit the [Return] key or select Edit/Copy. The highlighted data will then be ready to paste into your desired application. To return dbMASS to full screen mode make sure the window is active (highlighted windows header label) then repeat the [Alt]-[Return] key operation.

The problem that is often encountered in this process is that the dbMASS Alternate Window opens when you depress the [Alt] key and remains displayed as dbMASS is switched into the window covering some portion of the dbMASS image that you would like to capture. You can now disable the dbMASS Alternate Window by holding down either [Shift] key while depressing the [Alt] key. It can also be used to close an already opened Alternate Window while dbMASS is active.

18. Page Down and Page Up Bug Fix

A problem was identified and fixed that would occur when using the [Page Up] or [Page Down] keys in the Entries and Items Windows. The problem scenario goes something like this. If you modified a quantity in the Entries Window or an item description, quantity or mass in the Items Window and then use either the [Page Up] or [Page Down] keys to move to another page of data before exiting the field, the changes made were being associated with the line of data that is displayed after the page change operation, not the original line of data that was modified. This did not occur when using the Page Up and Page Down icons located in the top right corner of each of these windows.