July 2019 Newsletter

Headline July 12th:
Chaucer Appointed Clerk of the King’s Works

Old books on shelf Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels .com
Books

OK, this is a 2019 newsletter and the headline is from 1389 (and not from the 3SL newsletter, we may be a long established company but the MD assures me he’s not that old).

What’s Geoffrey Chaucer, the Father of English literature from the middle ages got to do with Requirement’s Management? I hear you ask.

Any wordsmith will strive to create a picture or describe an event in such a way that the reader is able to internally visualise and experience what the author is trying to convey. Whether that be fact or fiction is the main divide between literary and engineering authors. Visions of golden eagles carrying the author high above the earth in Chaucer‘s Hous of Fame, or a depiction of Hiccup, a small Viking, on the back of a Dragon, by our most recent Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell, may paint vivid pictures, but are works of fantasy.

Business writing must also convey a visualisation to the reader. However in a very different style. No one would ever suggest writing your requirements in octosyllabic couplets, or even in rhyme. Although it does sounds fun! In the same way that a poet uses rules to create rhymes,  couplets, sonnets or limericks, business writers follow hierarchical, brevity, atomic rules to keep requirements clear, concise and understandable. We’d rather draw you a diagram to illustrate the system than add another thousand words.

Requirements need to have a purpose, a defined theme or product. Unlike the criticised unfinished, wandering Hous of Fame. In his job as the Clerk or works (CoW), Chaucer would have needed to provide clear instruction and detail to the builders. His work as a bureaucrat would also have required clear communication. An uncommon talent to find, skills in both literary and business writing, unless you know different?   Let us know social-customer@threesl.com

What’s In A Name?

Cradle Registered Trade Mark
Cradle®

Quite a bit really. We believe Cradle®From Concept to Creation is synonymous with a product helping organise and manage projects world wide. In that regard we have successfully defended our registered trademark under the “software umbrella” for many years. However, many of you will be familiar with Cradle support, training and business consultancy. You may also be aware Cradle is now also available as a managed service (SaaS).  In recognition of the work we do helping companies set up successful processes, and our service provisions, you’ll now also find Cradle® in classes 41 and 42

G Cloud 11

g-cloud HMGovernment
G-Cloud

We’ve been successfully accepted into the UK government’s G-Cloud 11 framework. Thanks to the efforts of all involved.

Social Media

Twitter

Batelle TweetWe liked the Soapbox challenge that came to Barrow, and enjoyed the longest day this year. We were impressed that Battelle‘s micro engineering could identify you from a hair.

 

Open Database Connectivity (ODBC)

Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) is an application that allows different types of databases to interface through the use of a library containing data access routines. Cradle now supports connections to DISAM, Oracle and MySQL.

Connection to Different Data Storage Types
This diagram shows the logical representation of the project data storage

Installation Requirements

Before installing check the minimum hardware and operating system requirements for ODBC. The following are necessary for a successful installation:

  • An Oracle or MySQL installation accessible to the CDS preferably on the same machine
  • An ODBC driver manager
  • An ODBC driver for the data source you wish to access. For example, Oracle in Oracle for Windows or SQL Server

Please ensure the versions are the following or greater

  • Oracle in Oracle from Oracle Corporation version is 12.02.00.01
  • MySQL ODBC 8.0 Unicode Driver from Oracle Corporation is version 8.00.13.00
  • Windows ODBC Data Source Administrator appropriate for your Windows release (Windows 7 or later)
  • unixODBC driver Manager 2.3.7 or later

*Cradle install will not work with Oracle databases that have been setup using the ‘Create as Container Database’ option.

ODBC is a licence option which can allow Oracle or SQL or both to work with our Cradle Enterprise version. This new licence is not available for any other version of Cradle. For enquires about the new ODBC licence, please email salesdetails@threesl.com.

Cradle and ODBC

The users can still import and export standard export, CSV, XML and now ReqIF files. If a user is on Windows they can still use our Toolsuite applications. The only difference is the access to databases either directly (DISAM) or through ODBC (Oracle and MySQL).

With Cradle supporting ODBC, a user can now install Cradle on the same database server farm as the Oracle/MySQL databases. A separate server is no longer required.  Although projects can be on a separate server and linked to the Cradle database using a UNC path e.g. \\hostname\path\projects\mmh1. Click for more information on Storing Project Databases in NAS.

 3 different projects on 2 different servers
Cradle About WorkBench UI showing 3 different projects on 2 different servers

Installing ODBC

The CDS requires an installation of ODBC on the same machine for either Linux or Windows. Client machines which don’t have the CDS on them don’t need to have ODBC installed at all.

Linux

If the Linux distribution you are installing on does not have v2.3.7 of unixODBC as a package, then you’ll need to build this from source. You can download and find installing steps for it from http://www.unixodbc.org/download.html. Ensure the user installing is the System Administrator or a user with administrator privileges for installing both ODBC and Cradle.

Check for the following files on your Linux installation:

libodbc, libodbccr and libodbcinst
Necessary files on Linux

Windows

If the Windows platform you are installing on does not have ODBC please install the latest Oracle in Oracle for Windows which can be found here. You can find installing and upgrading documents for Oracle Database here and select the release you are on from the drop-down.

Certain settings are required to be selected when using Oracle in Oracle. Check and enable or disable the following options in the Oracle ODBC Driver Configuration checking all numbers:

Oracle ODBC Driver Configuration
Oracle ODBC Driver Configuration for Application, Oracle and Workarounds

Turn on the Connection Pooling attributes and use the default options:

Pool Connection settings
Turn on Connection Pooling Attributes

Setting up with Cradle

After installation of both Oracle and Cradle, the administrator is required to check and alter the following files correctly:

  • Support file for the driver when required on Windows usually in ‘Oracle <version>\network\admin’

The following example of a tnsnames.ora file, shows it can have more than one Oracle database location set within it.

tnsnames.ora file
tnsnames.ora file
  • Correctly configure the ODBC file for Cradle in cradle\admin\odbc\ called odbc_config

All options are hashed out in the file until an administrator changes them. All options show an example of what can be entered. This is an odbc_config example for just Oracle on one of our installations.

CRADLE_VERSION = 7.5
#
ODBC_DRIVERINFO = ORACLE
    CONFIG_DIR = 'oracle'
    CHARSET_METHOD = ENVIRONMENT
    CHARSET_VAR = 'NLS_LANG'
    CHARSET_BDY = '.'
    CHARSET = 'AL32UTF8'
    CONNECT_STR = 'DSN=$SOURCE;UID="$USER";PWD="$PASSWORD";'
ODBC_DRIVERINFO = END
#
#
ODBC_DRIVER = ORACLE
    ODBC_SOURCE = 'OracleODBC-18c-ORAC'
    DBMS_NAME = 'Oracle'
    DEFAULT_DB_TABLESPACE = 'USERS'
    DEFAULT_DB_SCHEMA_USE = DEFAULT
    DEFAULT_DB_SCHEMA = 'cradle_prj_$PCODE'
    DEFAULT_USER = 'CRADLE_CDS_USER'
    DEFAULT_PASSWORD = '***'
ODBC_DRIVER = END
ODBC_DRIVER = ORACLE
    ODBC_SOURCE = 'OracleODBC-18c-ORAC12'
    DBMS_NAME = 'Oracle'
    DEFAULT_DB_TABLESPACE = 'USERS'
    DEFAULT_DB_SCHEMA_USE = DEFAULT
    DEFAULT_DB_SCHEMA = 'cradle_prj_$PCODE'
    DEFAULT_USER = 'CRADLE_CDS_USER'
    DEFAULT_PASSWORD = '***'
ODBC_DRIVER = END
  • Correctly configure the file create_CRADLE_CDS_USER in cradle\admin\db_config\odbc\setup_scripts

The default user tablespace and users within your Oracle database need to be set within this file. This is to allow the altering and creating privileges for the users. In our original it has:

  • USER “CRADLE_CDS_USER”
  • DEFAULT TABLESPACE “USERS”

The privilege options in create_CRADLE_CDS_USER should be changed to your own tablespace and user names used in the odbc_config file.

Creating New Projects

Users get the same Cradle interface as before but with a new section it now allows connects to 3 different types of database. The different databases can be created through Project Manager by selecting a different Data Source.

Showing 2 different Oracle databases in Create Project UI
Showing 2 different Oracle databases either can be used

Once a source is selected, a new section allows the default settings from the odbc_config file to be bypassed if required:

""

Projects can be still be created through a command line using c_prj using the new -odbc_src option.

[-odbc_src <odbc_source>
 [-odbc_sch {DEFAULT | DATABASE | NONE | <ODBC schema>}]
 [-odbc_usr <ODBC user>]
 [-odbc_pwd <ODBC password>]]
c_prj.exe -create -code TEST -title "Test Project" -path /home/project/odbc -pid ODBC01 -schema DEFAULT -odbc_source OracleODBC-18c-ORAC -odbc_user -odbc_pwd

Both -odbc_user and -odbc_pwd are left blank so the default user and password from the odbc_config file will be used. They will only be filled when an override is required. When creating a database for Oracle then the -odbc_sch DEFAULT would be used. For an SQL database then -odbc_sch DATABASE would be used.

File Locations

All items requirements, system notes and diagrams etc., will be located in an Oracle database but there are some files that are kept in a project folder like in a DISAM project.

The ‘prj_params’ file can be found in the project folder with a new file called ‘connection_config’. The ‘prj_params’ is the same as before, with all the options for the project schema and user interactions. The new ‘connection_config’ file holds the version, type, database source and odbc schema used. It also holds the User and Password to override the DEFAULT USER / PASSWORD from the odbc_config.

CRADLE_VERSION = 7.5
TYPE = PDB_CONN_ODBC
SOURCE = OracleODBC
USER = *****
PASSWORD = *****
DB_SCHEMA_USE = DEFAULT

The definitions e.g. views, queries and reports etc., are still held in the definitions folder under the different user types. Source and Formal Documents are also held as before in the doc and fdoc folders.

*****NOTE*****

Direct manipulation of data in Cradle’s data files held in DISAM or an ODBC supported database is not recommended under any circumstance. The inherent integrity of the data and its internal relationships can only be maintained by accessing through Cradle’s defined UI, command-line or API tools.

  • We do not provide any information about Cradle’s use of Oracle and
    MySQL other than which we provide in our documentation
  • We do not provide any information or assistance to anyone who is
    proposing to access Cradle’s data that is stored in Oracle or
    MySQL other than through Cradle
  • Anyone who accesses, either read-only or read-write, Cradle data
    that is stored in Oracle or MySQL without using Cradle as the only
    means to access that data, does so entirely at their own risk and
    3SL will not accept any responsibility for, nor provide any
    assistance to, anyone who accesses Cradle data in that way and then
    subsequently finds that their data is no longer accessible through,
    or manipulable by, Cradle

Choose Your HTML Display Tool

How would you like to display your HTML?

It might not be a common question, most of us have one favourite browser and that’s it. But if you do want to choose your HTML display tool, how do you do it?

However, in Cradle you can produce tool output in HTML as well as viewing the Cradle Help. There are situations where you may want to use a browser for the Help and say Microsoft® Excel for a table output. This can be controlled in Cradle 7.5 onwards in the User Preferences settings. There is a distinction between the Display HTML file and Display Cradle help options.

HTLM viewers Cradle User Preferences
HTML preferences

HTML File or HTML Help

Once your preferences are set up, you may choose to Publish Table from a Cradle View. This will show the Publish Table dialog and allow the output to be sent to an application for viewing. In the illustration below, the OK opens the resultant file in your chosen HTML display tool, Excel. However, the Help button still opens the dialog’s help file in your browser (defined by $BROWSER command directive).

Different HTML viewing in Cradle
HTML Outputs

Example

Now that the Cradle data has been published you can easily take advantage of facilities available in the selected too. For example charting the relative ‘Level of Effort’  for each of the items in the query.

LoE chart from Cradle Data
Cradle HTML data in Excel

Preferences

Because each user will have a different machine and may be working on different aspects of the project, it is possible to set individual User Preferences. It might be that on my machine I use Adobe® Acrobat to view PDF files, but my colleague has lightweight  PDF viewer. They are going to want to use their viewer for all their Cradle projects, and I will want to use mine. As this setting is related to a user and their machine, rather than the particular project, this is user preference rather than a project schema setting.

Related Articles

Preferences

Sidebars – Enable and Disable via User Types

Choose Your Bars

You may have reason to make sure some users don’t see a particular sidebar or sidebars. For example, a customer seeing the Plans sidebar is not necessary if they are not involved in planning.

Setup

Within Project Setup there is a section for User Settings. This section is used to set many different options for Users. Under the User Types tab, different Sidebars and Default Start Pages can be set for each different User Type. A user must have the PROJECT privilege to be able to set these options.

Sidebars options under User Types
Different User Types Settings for Sidebars and Start Pages

A User Type can have all, some or none of the sidebars selected. If none of the sidebars are selected then a user would use the options set for them on a Start Page only.

These settings can then be used in conjunction with a Users Preferences in which they can set a Default Sidebar to show on logging into a Project.

User Choice

The sidebars a user can see in the User Preferences are only the ones assigned to their User Type. They can then set which of those assigned to them will show when they first log in. This option may also be set to ‘None’ so no sidebar shows when a user firsts logs in.

Sidebar Options
Sidebar options under the UI Control section

The settings are honoured no matter how a user logs in either through the UI, Project Manager,  or through a command prompt. The only time this can change, is if a different sidebar is set when a user saves a Session. If they login using the saved Session then the sidebar showing at the time of the save will be opened instead.

June 2019 Newsletter

June

Coral Reef from Pexels.com Qesm Al Wahat
Reef

The half way month in the Gregorian calendar and here is the June 2019 Newsletter. June is derived from the Anglo-French Juin, from Latin Junius.

The 1st of June is a call for us all to recognise the importance of Reefs in the world’s eco system. The complex interaction of many individual organisms linked by a rock/bone like skeleton, is home to many an animal and plant (It’s a bit like many requirements linked together defining your system in Cradle!) Sorry for the contrived comparison.

On the 14th June it is international bathday, we can hear some of our engineers asking us to clarify if it is REALLY six months since their Christmas dip! On the 21st, here in the North, we’ll be celebrating the longest day of the year with the summer solstice.

In addition, for many potential engineers it’s a celebration of the end of their exams with the prospect of moving on to college, university or finding a job, good luck all.

Cradle 7.5

Cradle 7.5 Logo
Cradle 7.5

3SL are pleased to announce the arrival of Cradle 7.5.

This release is available as a new product, or an upgrade for users with maintenance.  You can download it here, and after that you  will require a new security code to use it.

Features include:

ReqIF Support

Support for ReqIF (Requirements Interchange Format).

This allows Cradle to exchange information with other requirements
management and systems engineering tools that also support ReqIF.
Please note that you need to carefully define a mapping between the
information in your Cradle schema and the schema used in the other
tool.

Web Services Interface

Support for Web Services, a new REST-based HTTP API.
This provides both session-based and ‘single-shot’ interaction
with Cradle through a WSI (Web Services Interface) that provides a
range of facilities to query the schema, query the items and links
in the database, and to create or modify items and links.
The WSI uses an API connection licence.

ODBC Support

Support for users who wish to store their data in a third-party RDBMS (Relational Database Management System)  Oracle or MySQL) as opposed to the file-based ISAM database supplied free with Cradle.
This new capability allows you to store each Cradle database in
any of ISAM, Oracle and MySQL. The Cradle Database Server (CDS)
can interact with ISAM and/or Oracle and/or MySQL all at the same
time if necessary.
Note that you need to provide the ODBC driver for the RDBMS and
you need to perform some initial configuration of the RDBMS before
Cradle can interact with it. We provide full details of the steps
needed in the Cradle documentation.
This gives Cradle another unique capability. Cradle is the only
tool which provides a choice of database back-ends to store your
information.

Matrices/Navigations

Enhanced Matrix Details dialog,  variable substitutions within navigation attribute values.

Queries on Frame Content

Support sequential testing for frames in queries.

Systems Modelling

Integration between model-based (specifications, data definitions, diagrams) and your project’s requirements and notes (which are not sub divided into models, non-model information). shown in all types of diagram in the FAD (functional, architecture, data) group of notations.
This is a major extension to Cradle’s modelling capabilities. It
allows you to show, in any diagram, how the elements of the model
(functions, processes, equipments, interfaces and so on) are
linked to:
– Information earlier in the lifecycle, such as requirements
– The system structure, such as a SBS
– Information later in the lifecycle, such as test cases
Some SysML notations allow requirements to be shown in a model.
This is helpful. However, the new non-model information symbols
provided by this enhancement offer far more capability than is
offered in SysML.

Project Setup

Firstly, a new DateTime category and frames to help support ReqIF.
Enhanced option for selecting/entering link attributes for cross references.
Additionally, the ability to disable/enable sidebars for a particular user type.

User Setup

New options (skills) when applying a role to a User Profile.

Social Media

Twitter

JPL Name on Mars Tweet

Firstly we hoped you enjoyed Chocolate Chip Cookie Day that would certainly have been one for the Cookie Monster celebrating 50 Years of Sesame Street! Furthermore we debated sending 3SL to Mars, well in name only. (However, we did consider drawing up a short list of some people we would really like to send, for instance …..)

…and Finally

We were proud to announce our ISO 9001 :2015 certification last month. If you want to confirm our certification, enter our certificate number 16926 into the checker here.

Cradle API

Cradle API

The Cradle Application Programming Interface (API) is a set of routines that can be used to create applications that use the database and supporting features in 3SL’s Cradle Requirements Management and Systems and Software Engineering environment.

You can use the API to extend the facilities of your Cradle system, or to create a bridge between Cradle and another piece of software by connecting the APIs of Cradle and the other tool.

API

The Cradle API provides a full range of facilities, including:

  • Connection to, and disconnection from, a Cradle Database Server (CDS)
  • Login with a specified username, password and project code (or use LDAP authentication)
  • Access to the project schema of the project to which your application has logged-in
  • Reading items, cross references, and cross referenced information in the project’s database
  • Creating, deleting and update items and cross references in the project’s database
  • Updating items and cross references in the project’s database
  • Deleting items and cross references in the project’s database

If you would like any more further information regarding API please click here

 

Cradle Supports Office – Not Office Apps in the Microsoft Store

Many of us use Microsoft Office to do our document-related work. There are now many versions of Office and many ways to get access to it. For example, you can buy, download and install it. Or, you can do this as part of a subscription service. You can also use simplified Office tools as pure web applications. Or you can use Office as a set of apps from the Microsoft Store. Cradle supports Office, but not the Office apps in the Microsoft Store.

Cradle’s Use of Office

Cradle uses Office tools in several ways:

  • Cradle’s Document Loader tool uses Word to split documents into items in the database
  • Cradle’s Document Publisher tool uses Word to assemble output documents from items in the database
  • Cradle has a plug-in for Excel. You can use this plug-in to load data from Excel into a Cradle database, either as new items or to merge into existing items
  • When you publish reports to HTML and CSV, you can view them in Excel
  • You can publish reports to RTF and view them in Word
  • Print your MBSE models’ diagrams directly to PowerPoint
  • You can link symbols in Visio diagrams to items in a Cradle database
  • Link a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) in Cradle, bi-directionally, to the activities in a schedule in Project
  • Items in a Cradle database can contain rich text attributes that can be edited with Word
  • Items in a Cradle database can have attributes that can contain, or reference, any type of Office document

So your use of Cradle can be quite closely linked to Office. Hence it is a good idea to have a set of Office tools available when you use Cradle!

Supported Versions of Office

Cradle supports several versions of Office:

  • 2007 (SP3, 32-bit)
  • 2010 (SP2, 32-bit and 64-bit)
  • 2013 (SP1, 32-bit and 64-bit)
  • 2016 (32-bit and 64-bit)

You can install one of these versions of Office on your computer, either by buying it, or as part of an Office 365 subscription. Then, you install Cradle which will connect itself into Office to provide the facilities listed above.

Please do not install parts of different versions of Office. For example, do not install Project from Office 2016 with Office 2013 tools. If you do this, the Cradle installer will not install any of Cradle’s tools for Office.

Office 365

Office 365 is essentially a subscription service through which you can download the latest version of Office and install it onto one or more computers. So Office 365 produces the same result on your computer, you have an installation of Office. Hence Cradle supports Office 365.

UWP

The Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps (previously called Windows Store apps and Metro-style apps) are apps that can be used across all compatible Microsoft Windows devices, including personal computers (PCs), tablets, smartphones, Xbox One, Microsoft HoloLens, and Internet of Things.

UWP apps are primarily purchased and downloaded via the Microsoft Store.

Microsoft Store

The Microsoft Store started as a means to distribute apps created for the Universal Windows Platform (UWP). Now, the Microsoft Store is the name for the consolidation of all of Microsoft’s previous distribution channels, including the Windows Marketplace, Windows Phone Store, Xbox Video, Xbox Music and the Xbox Games Store.

 

No supported Office version screenshot
No supported Office version

Please note that Cradle does NOT support Office products downloaded from the Microsoft Store.

External Articles

Here are a couple of articles on the differences between Microsoft’s Desktop apps and Microsoft Store apps:

What’s the Difference Between Microsoft Office’s Desktop, Web, and Mobile Apps?

Why ‘Office in the Windows Store’ isn’t really Microsoft Office

Office desktop apps now available for download from Windows Store in Windows 10 S

Work Experience – June 2019

Work Experience – Introduction

Chetwynde School gave us the opportunity to go on a week’s work experience 3rd to the 7th June. One such placement was at 3SL giving a chance for students to gain knowledge of work life and improve their skills in the field or area of work they would like to go into. Work experience is an opportunity for a change in environment, from classroom to work life.

Monday 3rd June

On Monday we started the task of going through the tutorial of Cradle which is 3SL’s product. Cradle software was something very different to what had been done in school. This also meant we had to learn something new. We also had read through an employee handbook, you would have to do this if you were a real employee.

Tuesday 4th June

Tuesday’s tasks were to finish the tutorial (image below) but after finishing the tutorial we moved onto some task’s which required our knowledge of the software Cradle, of which we had to run some tests on. These tests are what the support team deals with.

Work Experience Diary June Cradle
Cradle

Wednesday 5th June

Wednesday consisted of the tasks of counting each individual stationary object and recording it. This task was difficult and had to sort it into the requirements e.g. colour. (Image below) This also took a reasonable amount of time, but we were able to get it done in the end.

Work_Experience Diary June Spreadsheet
Data Attribute Task

Thursday 6th June

We had to make a CV and cover letter for a mock interview that we were going to have that afternoon. The interview had many different questions. Such as ‘How would you describe yourself’.  We were also given a design task. This task made us think of a solution to a problem, and also the health and safety behind it.

Work Experience Diary June Design task
Design Task

Friday 7th June

On Friday we had finished our data tasks. Also we had started a new task which was to create a blog or social media entry which was on behalf of the company. This is a good way to spread new information about the company so people are able to know what they offer.

Overall, it was a interesting experience and we would recommend it to anyone who wants to work in this field.

Chetwynde School Logo
Chetwynde School

By: Elliot S and Joseph I

From Chetwynde School

 

 

Cradle 7.5 – Released

We are pleased to announce the release of Cradle-7.5!

This is available for download from the 3SL website.

3SL customers with active maintenance have been sent an e-mail notification, and details of which enhancement requests and bug reports are in it. You will be issued with a new security code free of charge.

Cradle 7.5 Logo
Cradle 7.5

New Capabilities

Cradle-7.5 contains a range of new capabilities, some of the highlights are:

  • ReqIF support – Our current import and export functionality has been extended to support Requirements Interchange Format (ReqIF).
  • Web Service Interface – Support for Web Services.
  • ODBC support – In addition to the shipped ISAM Database, it is now possible to store your Cradle data in a different database via ODBC (Open Database Connectivity).
  • Matrices/Navigations – The contents tab of the Matrix Details dialog has been enhanced regarding navigations.
  • Queries – Regular expressions on frames has now been extended to support sequential testing.
  • Systems Modelling – Increased integration between models and non-model information in system notes/requirements.

Download

Cradle-7.5 available from our website here.

You need a new Security Code for Cradle-7.5, as other Security Codes cannot be used.

Cradle clients (WorkBench, Web Access, Document Publisher for instance.) and server (Cradle CDS) versions can not be mixed. Therefore, you must upgrade all Cradle installations to 7.5.

However, because there are not fundamental changes to the data attributes there is no converter to run for a 7.4 to 7.5 upgrade. Full details are available in the release notes, and updated manuals in addition you can always contact support@threesl.com .

We hope that you will welcome the new capabilities in Cradle-7.5