dbMASS 4.5
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This file documents the enhancements and problem fixes provided with dbMASS version 4.5. Please read to stay up to date on these developments.


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

    ------------------------------------------------- 4.50 / June 21, 2002

  1. Maintenance Release
    1. Windows XP Support
    2. MPEX Linked Uncertainty
    3. ------------------------------------------------- 4.51 / August 6, 2002

    4. Material Density Changes
    5. Modified Update Messages
  2. New Features
    1. Copy Entry Mass Properties
    2. ------------------------------------------------- 4.52 / August 14, 2002

    3. MPEX Import Filter Enhancements
  3. ------------------------------------------------- 4.53 / August 30, 2002

  4. Enhancements
    1. Reduced Popup Delays
  5. Bug Fixes
    1. Paste CG Point
    2. Repetitive Cut/Verify Icon Clicks
    3. ------------------------------------------------- 4.54 / November 14, 2002

    4. MPEX Add Fields ALPHA Limit
    5. Mass Distribution Category Filtering
    6. Changing Entry Type

1. Maintenance Release

This update is being distributed to all users with active maintenance agreements. It provides several significant new features and bug fixes, many of which were introduced in minor release versions 4.41 and 4.42. Minor releases are generally only distributed to users who had either expressed an immediate interest in the feature or were experiencing a particular problem addressed by the release. Please refer to the dbMASS v4.4 ReadMe notes for discussion of these items. Here are the modifications provided by this specific release.

  1. Windows XP Support

With the release of Windows XP Microsoft has officially left their 16 bit MS-DOS days behind. All of the Windows XP operating system editions are based on Windows NT. In support of this transition, dbMASS is now configured to run on any of the Windows operating systems. The distinct licensing previously required to run dbMASS on Windows NT has be removed.

So if you want to transition from Windows 95, 98 or Millennium versions to any of the Windows NT versions, including Windows 2000 and XP, you will need to update your dbMASS installation to version 4.5 or later and then install the NT drivers. Installing the NT drivers usually requires system administrator privileges on the target machine. To install, right mouse click on the install.inf file, found in the dbMASS4\NTdriver folder, and select "install." The computer must then be rebooted to complete the installation.

  1. MPEX Linked Uncertainty

Previous enhancements made to the MPEX format introduced support for having uncertainty values linked to assigned contingency types. Further information on this topic is provided by the MPEX documentation and the dbMASS version 4 ReadMe file. Initially, the uncertainty data provided in a MPEX file was assumed to be consistently defined. That is, if the auto-mode of a particular part's uncertainty data was set, then the uncertainty values were assumed to match those defined for the linked uncertainty values defined in the UNCERTAINTIES data set. dbMASS version 4.32 changed the behavior to force consistent assignments when the auto-mode status was set for an individual record. This was done to prevent the inconsistent assignment of uncertainty, however, there was still another way that inconsistent assignments could be introduced. That is, if the database environment is set to automatically assign uncertainty values when a contingency value is assigned but the MPEX data did not have the auto-mode status set for the individual part records. One would need to toggle the linked uncertainty environment setting within dbMASS to get it to reassess all uncertainty assignments. With this version, dbMASS now automatically assigns the linked uncertainty values when the environment is set to "Always update assigned uncertainty without asking."


  1. Material Density Changes

With the release of version 3.53 back in November 3, 1998 a bug was introduced that limited the automatic update of parts for changes made to a referenced material density. This new version, 4.51, fixes the problem introduced and should shorten the time required to correctly update the database values impacted by a material density change. To correct for any changes made to material densities with version 3.53 to 4.50, run the Database Update command and select to update the part mass properties if this command has not be run since the material density change occurred.

The fix will also improve database update speed for changes made to contingency percentages for contingencies referenced by parts.

  1. Modified Update Messages

The messages posted prior to running the Database Update command have been modified to be clearer and to promote creating a backup of the database prior to running the update.

The Update command can be used to force the recompilation of mass properties values and/or to reevaluate class category assignments (this only applies if class fields have been created for the database). Because these actions can sometimes result in significant changes to the database, you are encouraged to have a recent backup of the data so that you can go back to it if the need should arise. The Update command is normally not necessary but should be used if you have experienced a recent crash or abrupt termination of the program while dbMASS was performing some background processing. Background processing is indicated with the stop watch behind the mouse cursor.

2. New Features

  1. Copy Entry Mass Properties

The Mass Properties window contains a copy icon which can now be used to copy the entire mass properties from any Project, Installation, Assembly or Part to another Part. To use this feature you must first open the Mass Properties Window for the entry that you wish to copy. Then simply click on the copy icon found near the top left corner of the window. (You can also use the key combination [Ctrl]-[c].) This action copies the Mass Properties into a buffer. The values are than available for pasting into the Mass Properties window of a part or into a word processor or spreadsheet application.

To paste the copied mass properties to a Part open the Mass Properties Window of the Part and click on the paste icon (or use the key combination [Ctrl]-[c]).

The same icons in the Part Mass Properties Window are also used for copying just the CG point. To copy/paste the CG point, active the CG point task by clicking on it or by tabbing to it prior to the copy and paste operations.


  1. MPEX Import Filter Enhancements

The MPEX import interface supports defining filters in the STANDARD PARTS data set. This feature could present some problems when importing entries that match STANDARD PARTS filter criteria (i.e., they will be treated as standard parts) and that include weight history or note information. dbMASS 4 does not support having weight change history or notes associated with Standard Parts. Previously, Standard Parts that had history or notes could cause dbMASS to create indexing errors and/or to introduce invalid records. This problem has been eliminated by now ignoring all history and note records in the MPEX file when associated with a Standard Part.


3. Enhancements

  1. Reduced Popup Delays

Minimum display times were added for popup messages in an earlier version so that the popup messages could be more easily read. We've found the benefits of being able to read these messages outweighed by the desire for fast response so the minimum display times have been significantly reduced. The minimum time has been reduced from 1 second to 0.2 seconds. This new minimum allows the messages to be read if watched carefully and significantly improves the speed in which some things get done. You will notice a difference.

4. Bug Fixes

  1. Paste CG Point

The ability to copy the entire mass properties of an entry and paste them into a part's mass properties was added in version 4.51. Previously, one could only paste the CG for a part by selecting the CG field and then clicking the paste icon (or by typing [Ctrl]-[v]). It was intended that the ability to only paste a CG point be maintained but was mistakenly disabled. This release fixes this feature so that you can once again copy either a location point or another part's CG and paste it into a part's CG point field. Just remember that to paste only the CG, first select the CG point field then paste the values. No part mass properties fields should be selected when pasting the entire mass properties.

  1. Repetitive Cut/Verify Icon Clicks

There are a couple of ways to cut multiple lines from the Entries or Items Windows. Generally, it is recommended that you first high-light the lines you wish to delete and then double click on the Cut/Verify Icon (or type [Ctrl]-[x]) to delete all selected lines. However, for some situations you may want to click on a single line and then make multiple deletes by repeatedly using the Cut/Verify Icon, deleting the active line with each double click. Using the keyboard [Ctrl]-[x] is generally going to be faster to execute because the keyboard approach doesn't require the "verify" step. Each click of the [x] key while holding down the [Ctrl] key will remove a line. None the less, there will be times when you hand is on the mouse and you would like to keep it there. Previously, attempting to perform repetitive double clicks on the Cut/Verify Icon would fail. This problem has been fixed so that repetitive double clicks will now work.


  1. MPEX Add Fields ALPHA Limit

The MPEX format supports adding fields to predefined data sets. This is done through the use of the "Add Fields" data set. One of the field types that can be added is a text field using the ALPHA designator. dbMASS supports adding this field type to the ASSEMBLIES or the ENTRIES data sets, however the field width is limited to 30 characters. Previously, setting the width to a value greater than 30 caused problems when imported to dbMASS. Now the dbMASS MPEX translator automatically limits the field width to 30 characters. Field data that exceeds this limit is automatically clipped to comply with this limit.

  1. Mass Distribution Category Filtering

The Mass Distribution analysis determines how the mass of a system is distributed by summing the mass contained within volumetric "bins" and "slices" within these bins. The analysis supports assigning class categories to the bins. When this feature is used the part mass that falls within the volume of a bin must also be assigned a compatible class category in order for its mass to be included in the bin. This feature supports having multiple bins that share common volumes of space. The bin assigned the enclosed mass can be further qualified by the categories accepted for a particular bin.

Previously the class categories had to be assigned to the individual parts for the filter to be effective. In some cases the category may be either assigned at a higher level in the product structure or at the instance level for a part. In these cases a part category assignment should not be necessary, but yet was required for the mass distribution filtering to work properly. This limitation has been fixed so that categories assigned to higher level entries or at the instance (location) level are effectively assigned to the part for purposes of the mass distribution analysis.

For assemblies that contain CG located entries, the mass of the CG located entries is "smeared" across the entries that have specified locations. Because of this "smearing" process, category assignments made to the CG located entries are not used but rather the class category assigned to the individually located parts is used in the filtering process. This limitation may be addressed in a future release if it proves to be of significance to our clients. Your feedback is appreciated.


  1. Changing Entry Type

The Entry Type refers to whether an entry is a Project, Installation, Assembly, Part or Standard Part. You can change the type of an entry within dbMASS only through the use of the Entries Window. So, if you want to change an entry type, the entry must first be referenced by another entry. You can always create a temporary parent entry for this purpose if necessary. Once the entry has a parent or super entry referencing it, you will need to edit the parent entry and select the [entries] button from the parent's Entry Window. Then locate the entry within the Entries Window that you want to change. Double click on the Id or Description of the desired entry within the Entries Window. A Modify Entry Window will open which shows the current entry type. This window also has [up] and [down] arrow buttons which when clicked will cause the entry type to change between the available options. Once the desired type is display, close the Modify Entry Window to record the change.

A problem was recently identified in which a changed entry type could cause the entry to no longer show its next assembly references when a right mouse click was performed on the Entry Window Id or Description fields. This problem has been corrected.