dbMASS 5.0
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New Feature Section

This file documents the enhancements provided with dbMASS version 5.0. Please read to stay up to date on these developments.


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

------------------------------------------------- 5.00 / May 15, 2008

  1. New Features
    1. Keyboard Navigation
    2. Vocabulary Changes
    3. Weight Change Tracking
    4. Mass Distribution
    5. Duplicate Processing
    6. Class Category
    7. Interoperability
    8. Reporting Notes

------------------------------------------------- 5.02 / Sep 10, 2009

  1. Read Only Status Indicator

------------------------------------------------- 5.04 / Jan 11, 2010

  1. Preserving Mass Properties for Parts
  1. Bug Fixes (link)


I. New Features

This major release of dbMASS is the culmination of many man years of work that went into the previous sub releases of dbMASS v4 and the following new features. This version rounds out the features of the user interface (UI) to maximize its particular advantages. That is, better keyboard usage integration which makes quick work of many routine operations that previously required the mouse to complete. If you are inclined at all to use the keyboard over the mouse, you will likely find moving around faster and requiring less effort. It was the intent of the original UI design to make both approaches available so that whichever one presented a better alternative at any given time, depending on where your hands were, that it would be available to use. Making you as efficient as possible. We hope you like the improvements. Beyond the navigational improvements of the UI, the next biggest change is in the area of weight change tracking. Please read on to understand the scope of the changes provided.

  1. Keyboard Navigation

There have been many subtle enhancements made to the dbMASS UI which when combined should considerably improve the navigational and operational experience. The primary improvements revolve around the use of the up/down arrow keys [á]/[â]. Pretty much everywhere there is a list given you can now us the [á]/[â] keys to move between the rows of items (item here is meant generically, not limited to the items contained in a part). When a selection is required from one of these lists the [Enter] key can be used to select the active (boxed in) item. (Use [Ctrl]+[Enter] if not on the description field, e.g. material density) Also, the [Ctrl] key can be combined with the [â] key to activate the top of the next page or the last item of the last page. Combining the [Ctrl] key with the [á] key will activate the top item of the current or previous page. Also, the key combination of [ctrl]+[\] (the backslash or vertical bar key) simulates the right mouse click on the active selection. So anywhere a right mouse click on a referenced item is implemented (e.g. entry id or description, contingency, material, class category, etc.) can now be accessed with the [ctrl]+[\] key combination. Please refer to the following table for further keyboard shortcut implementations.

The following table lists the operations performed by the various key strokes:

Key Operation
[â] Down arrow: move down one row
[á] Up arrow: move up one row
[à] Right arrow: horizontal scroll to right, adjust report cell width*
[ß] Left arrow: horizontal scroll to left, adjust report cell width*
[Ctrl]+[â] Activates the top entry of next page or last entry of last page; close sub-window*
[Ctrl]+[á] Activates the top entry of current or previous page; close sub-window*
[Ctrl]+[à] Move horizontal scroll all the way to the right*
[Ctrl]+[ß] Move horizontal scroll all the way to the left*
[Shift]+[â] Move category down; Class Window only while in edit mode
[Shift]+[á] Move category up; Class Window only while in edit mode
[Shift]+[à] Indent category; Class Window only while in edit mode
[Shift]+[ß] Out dent category; Class Window only while in edit mode
[Page Up] Page up/back; used in lists and graphic tree displays
[Page Down] Page down/forward; used in lists and graphic tree displays, expands Add Find and Add Entry Window*
[Home] Move to beginning of edited field, beginning of list, or window Close button*
[End] Move to end of edited field or end of list
[Enter] Press active button or select highlighted item in list; use [Space] if default button activated with [Enter], e.g. Path Window
[Ctrl]+[Enter] Select highlighted item in list when other than description field active, e.g. contingency percentage or material density
[Esc] To abort changes in active field, abort display updates, close Add Find and Add Entry Windows
[Space] Toggle check mark and toggle mode status or open associated sub-windows e.g. contingencies for part and configurations/effectivities for entry aspects*
[Tab] Tab: horizontally (left to right) then vertically (top to bottom)
[Shift]+[Tab] Back Tab: horizontally (right to left) then vertically (bottom to top)
[Ctrl]+[\] Bring up list of entries that reference the selected entry, contingency, configuration, effectivity, material or class category (same as right mouse click)
[Ctrl]+[e] Add entry within or outside of group, e.g. contingencies, materials, ...
[Ctrl]+[c] Copy: copy entries, items, points, rotation angles, numeric fields, ... into buffer
[Ctrl]+[g] Add group, e.g. contingencies, materials, ...
[Ctrl]+[m] Reset mouse; fixes mouse movement range issue*
[Ctrl]+[p] Print screen: copies dbMASS screen to Windows clipboard
[Ctrl]+[s] Print screen: copies dbMASS screen to Windows clipboard
[Ctrl]+[v] Paste: copy entries, items, points, rotation angles, numeric fields, ... from buffer
[Ctrl]+[x] Cut: delete and copy entries, items, points, rotation angles, numeric fields, ... into buffer

*Notes: Additional Pointers and Special Cases:

  • [Ctrl]+[á] and [Ctrl]+[â] close the following sub-windows opened within lists:
    • Modify Entry, Add Entry and Location sub-windows to Entries Window
    • Shape sub-window to Items Window
    • Add Find Sub-Window to Configuration, Effectivities, Contingencies and Materials Windows
  • [Pg Dn] will expand the Add Find Window (also Add Entry Window) changing it from the compact 'add' to the expanded 'find' mode - opening the associated list
  • Use [Home] to quickly move to the Close Button and then [Enter] to close window; multiple [Home] key strokes may be needed depending on active window status
  • Use the [Space] to select folders and files within the Path Window since [Enter] has a default button assigned, i.e. [continue]
  • [à] and [ß] can be used in the Define Cell Window of Report Layout Window to adjust cell width; combining with [Ctrl] key increase or decreases by 10
  • [á],[â],[à] and [ß] can be used with the Display Window to adjust the properties controlled by the active display icons: move, rotate and scale. Combine with [Ctrl] to magnify effect
  • Resetting the mouse may be required when running dbMASS on a dual monitor system. This also can be accomplished with a right mouse click on the dbMASS desktop or background
  1. Vocabulary Changes

Several changes have been made to the dbMASS vocabulary to improve keyboard support and in one case to better describe its intended action. The first vocabulary change, which reduced the number of key strokes required by four, was for the "display tree" command. It previously required typing either 'tree u' or 'tree d' but now only requires typing either 'tu' or 'td' to select either the 'tree up' or 'tree down' command options.

The next vocabulary change only affects licenses with the Mass Distribution module. The vocabulary item 'wt. distribution' has been changed to 'distribution.' This change also reduced the number of keystrokes required by four since the vocabulary item 'wt. change' started with the same characters. Now either one can be uniquely identified with a single keystroke. This change affects the top level commands of 'Add', 'Edit' and 'Delete.'

The remaining command vocabulary item addressed was a change from "display image" to "display model." It was felt that this better described the intended action since the 3D model is displayed as a result. Furthermore, the display of the drawing tree could be considered an image but not a model and therefore this change eliminates this potential source of confusion.

  1. Weight Change Tracking
Add, Edit & Delete

The weight change history support has been enhanced in several areas. The most significant development is the new ability to directly add, edit and delete the weight change history for any entry from within the History Window. As is shown below, the only visible change to the History Window are the changes made to the bottom left corner of the window. This area provides the [add new] button and the editable "Wt Change" and "New Weight" fields. These values initialize to the weight change since the last recorded history and the current entry weight. Activating the [add new] button will add this weight change to the list with the current date. The category of and the reason for the change will default to the values set in the Weight Change Window. The user field will be set to the active user account.

Existing history records can be deleted by selecting the combined Date, Wt Change and New Weight fields by either clicking anywhere within them with the mouse or by navigating to the field/row with the use of arrow keys and/or the [tab] keys. Then either using the cut icon or [Ctrl]-[x] the record will be permanently removed.

These values, along with the change user, cannot be edited to maintain the integrity of the record. However, the change category and reason fields can be altered for existing records. Once again, use the mouse or keyboard navigation keys to activate the Change Category or Reason field. Clicking on the field or using the [space] or [enter] keys will open the corresponding sub-windows: Categories or Add Find description. Use these windows as you would within the Weight Change Window to make or change the active selection.

Merge History

Previously, when a duplicate entry would occur during a copy between databases, selecting to "update original" record would cause the original entry's history data to be lost and the updated entry's history maintained. A better solution has been implemented that merges the two entries history data so that the full history is maintained. Duplicate history records are identified and removed during this process.

Standard Part

The remaining enhancement provides direct access to standard part weight change history. The Standard Part Window now has a [history] button across the bottom of the window which opens the History Window as found on all other entry types. Use this to review and update the standard part history.


  1. Mass Distribution

Several improvements have been made in the Mass Distribution module that will provide a better user experience. Most noticeably is the automatic sorting of the slice values in the Distribution Bin Window. The user interface also enforces the requirement that the slice locations be greater than zero. Any slice less than zero is changed to zero and put at the end of the list so that it can be reused. Any remaining zero valued slices are ignored in the analysis. The other improvements primarily involve better keyboard support with the implementation of the [á][â] keys to move within the lists and the [Tab] keys to move between the panes.


  1. Duplicate Processing

When copying between databases, duplicate resolution processing is performed in a manner that allows user intervention. In the past it was at times somewhat confusing what type of duplicate data was being addressed in the duplication resolutions processing. One would need to select the [edit original] or [edit update] button to clarify the matter. A new label has been added in the Duplicate Window that shows the type of duplicate being processed. Types shown are "descriptor", "entry", "standard part", "contingency", "factor" and "material." The example below shows the label for a "standard part".

  1. Class Category

The Class Window shows the list of categories defined for a selected class field. The category that is assigned to the particular entry for which the window was opened shows a highlighted check mark by it in the far right of the display. When the parent categories are collapsed so that the child categories are hidden, this checkmark cannot be seen and it sometimes is difficult to know which parent to look in for the assigned category. Therefore a new feature has been added that displays a shadowed checkmark on all super categories to the assigned category in class categories listing. The following image provides an example of this feature for the assigned category "Secondary".

This window also benefits from the implementation of the keyboard navigation improvements, most notably the use of the [á][â] keys and the [space] key to expand/collapse the hierarchy. The other implementation worth noting is affected when the window is in 'edit' mode. In this mode the [á][â][à][ß] keys can be combined with the [Shift] key to manipulate the hierarchical relationships. Please refer to the Keyboard Navigation section for further details.


  1. Interoperability

Added releasing process of virtual machine for time slice which helps prevent dbMASS from being a processor hog and improves interoperability with other computer processes

  1. Reporting Notes

Custom reports now support the full length of long notes. Previously, the note length in reports was limited to 40 characters by the report layout cell definition. Now the length can be limited up to 254 characters or set to the full text width. This attribute is set in the Define(d) Cell Window. Note that the width can be adjusted by using the [á][â][à][ß] keys which can be combined with the [Ctrl] key to increment by 10's.

  1. Read Only Status Indicator

A new "Read Only" status indicator has been added to show that the active database is opened without write access. This indicator appears in blue near the middle of the status bar across the top of the screen: (Read Only). Previously, one could only tell this state by noting the reduced vocabulary selection or the inability to edit a field. Now it will be immediately apparent.

  1. Preserving Mass Properties for Parts

A change has been made to how parts without items are handled during background updates. Previously, in all cases where a part was being recalculated and it didn't have user defined or overtyped mass properties, the items were summed to arrive at the part mass properties. Without items the mass properties were being cleared and all values were set to zero. Now, the part mass properties are treated as user defined and the part is marked as having user defined mass properties.

This change was introduced so that when the mass properties for a part come from a MPEX format file and the "overtyped" column was not set, the values will be preserved.


II. Bug Fixes (link)