Controlling the Cradle Access Mode

All Cradle users have a read-write access mode by default, and as such can create and modify information in their project databases, subject only to Cradle’s security and access control mechanisms such as privileges, classifications, skills, user types and so on.

There are no dedicated read-only user accounts in Cradle. However, there is a mechanism to specify which user accounts should be read-only and which should be read-write for a specified project.

This mechanism might be useful in protecting the consumption of your read-write connections.

Cradle User Control File (UCF)

Cradle contains a cradle_users file that is stored in the admin directory of your Cradle installation. This file allows your System Administrator to control the access mode that a user has for specified projects.

The file allows you to specify the Cradle username, the project code and the access mode separated by a space or tab characters:

Cradle-Username      Project-Code     Access-Mode


  • Cradle-Username – is the Cradle username to be controlled, in uppercase or lowercase, and at most 40 characters
  • Project-Code – the project in which the username is defined, specified in uppercase or lowercase, and at most 4 characters
  • Access-Mode – the access mode to be assigned whenever anyone logs in to the specified project with the specified username, as:
    • R – the username is always to be read-only
    • W – the username is always to be read-write
    Example cds_users file
    Example cds_users file

    The entries in this file override any -ro or -rw command line options to Cradle tools.

    This file is empty by default, so all users would have the ability to connect to databases read-write unless specified otherwise.

Using a Form for Each Workflow Stage

Example Scenario

Cradle items can contain many frames, categories and other attributes that might not necessarily be relevant or required to be shown at different stages of your workflow. An example of which is shown below:

Item showing stage frames
Item showing stage frames

The example provides frames that should only be shown at the relevant stage in the workflow and the Acceptance Criteria, we decided that we wish to show this information at all stages but displayed read-only at stages 2 and 3.

Defining a Stage Category

To start with, create a category to base the workflow on. This must be set as mandatory and have a default value set.

Setup category values
Setup category values

You can then assign this category to the item type. In this example we have used Requirements:

Assign Category
Assign category to item type

Defining the Workflow

In the Workflow Settings, create a workflow that uses the Stage category to advance to the next stage of the process. In this example, we demonstrate a very simple workflow that advances from Stage 1 to Stage 2 and then Stage 2 to Stage 3. The 3rd level shown here is to then advance to formal review:

Show workflow stages
Show workflow stages

You can then set this as the default workflow for the item type:

Set default workflow
Set default workflow

Note that the Stage Category Form… button becomes active. We will come back to this later as firstly you need to create a form for each stage.

Creating Forms

Using the Form Details dialog, create a form for each stage of the workflow.

Stage 1 Form

The Stage 1 form in this example should show the frame STAGE 1 NOTES but not STAGE 2 NOTES or STAGE 3 NOTES.

Stage 1 form
Stage 1 form

Stage 2 Form

The Stage 2 form in this example should show the frame STAGE 2 NOTES but not STAGE 1 NOTES or STAGE 3 NOTES. You can also set the Acceptance Criteria frame to only be shown read-only as in the example below:

Stage 2 form
Stage 2 form

Stage 3 Form

The Stage 3 form in this example should show the frame STAGE 3 NOTES but not STAGE 1 NOTES or STAGE 2 NOTES. You can also set the Acceptance Criteria frame to only be shown read-only as in the example below.

Stage 3 form
Stage 3 form

Setting the Stage Forms

You can now return to Project Setup and press the Stage Category Form… button:

Project Setup Stage Category Form button
Stage Category Form button in Project Setup

This will allow you to specify the form to be used at each stage of the workflow.

Stage Category Form dialog
Stage Category Form dialog

Advancing the Item

When you first create the item, the Stage category is set to Stage 1 as this is the default value for the item. You can see here that the STAGE 1 NOTES frame is shown and the Acceptance Criteria is read-write:

Advance option
Advance option in ribbon

Pressing the Advance… button closes the item and changes the Stage value to Stage 2 once confirmed in the Advance Operation dialog:

Advance Operation dialog
Advance Operation dialog

When you open the item again, you will see that the Stage category is set to Stage 2 and will use the Stage 2 form that shows the STAGE 2 NOTES frame and the Acceptance Criteria is read-only:

Item showing stage 2
Item in form showing stage 2

Advancing the item again uses the form that has been created for Stage 3 and so on.


WorkBench allows you to create a specific form for each stage of your workflow. This can be particularly useful if the frames, categories or attributes only need to be shown at certain stages of your process. It would simplify the user interface for the users that are modifying the items as they would not be presented with information that might be irrelevant to their task.

January Newsletter 2023

Welcome to the January 2023 newsletter from 3SL!

This newsletter contains a mixture of news and technical information about us, and our requirements management and systems engineering tool “Cradle”. We would especially like to welcome everyone who has purchased Cradle in the past month and those who are currently evaluating Cradle for their projects and processes.

We hope that 3SL and Cradle can deliver real and measurable benefits that help you to improve the information flow within, the quality and timeliness of, and the traceability, compliance and governance for, all of your current and future projects.

If you have any problems in your use of Cradle, please do not hesitate to contact 3SL Support here.

Happy New Year

We hope all those celebrating over Christmas had a safe and happy time.

Into a new year and a time to reflect on both your company’s achievements and problems. Whilst the turn of a date is nothing magical, the psychological effect of a new term can really help enthuse and help us focus.

If a project wasn’t quite on track, a root cause analysis can help identify where things went astray. Use this as a positive for new projects and look out for the ‘gotcha’ next time round. It is also important to identify the successes, the team and company can lever the feel-good factor on jobs well done.

3SL US Training Courses

Our US colleagues have scheduled the following public courses:

    • 3-Day User Course
      February 6-8 (3 days), $1395/attendee
    • Combined Administration Course
      February 9 (1 day), $465/attendee
    • 3-Day User Course
      April 17-19 (3 days), $1395/attendee
    • Combined Administration Course
      April 20 (1 day), $465/attendee

These courses are open to anyone from any organisation. If you register for one of these courses, it may mean that you will be joined by people from other organisations.

All of these public courses are limited to 8 attendees. For further information or to book your place on one of these courses please contact 3SL US.

Combined Administration Course

The Combined Administration Course course is designed for project team leaders or managers who administer and manage Cradle projects. It covers both user and project administration. It also includes setting up project schemas helping your users to hit the ground running.

3-Day User Course

The 3-Day User Course is designed to help new users become acquainted with Cradle. This course includes hands on demonstrations for both administration and requirements management tasks.

3SL Listed in ESMCP ESN Supplier Directory

The Home Office is leading a cross-government programme to deliver the new Emergency Services Network (ESN) critical communications system. ESN is being delivered through the Emergency Services Mobile Communication Programme (ESMCP) in the Home Office where 3SL and Cradle have provided requirements and test/evidence management and contract governance support since 2013.

Emergency Services Network
Emergency Services Network

ESN is being delivered through the Emergency Services Mobile Communication Programme (ESMCP) in the Home Office. ESMCP has many component projects, including the acquisition of MCX end user communication services.

3SL is pleased to announce that we have been listed as a supplier in this programme. Interest in 3SL and Cradle can be registered through the portal or directly to 3SL.

Interest in Cradle from HMG or 3ES can be sent directly to 3SL or through G-Cloud 13 in the Digital Marketplace here.

Still to come this month

    • Project Administration online course – January 17th to 18th
    • User online course – January 24th to 25th

To book your place on either of the Project Administration or User courses please see here.

Simplifying your WorkBench Environment

WorkBench is an extremely flexible and customisable tool which can then result in user complexity as it provides such a wide range of displays and outputs for your project data:

  • MANY definition files to show queries and views of how you want to see your data
  • MANY types of reports and documents tailored for your required outputs
  • Different outputs/views of the project required at particular stages

With so many features available to users, it is important to understand how we can manage to reduce the complexity of the tool for them by using the Phase Hierarchy and/or Start Pages:

WorkBench Environment
Simplifying your WorkBench environment

We can reduce tool complexity by the use of the Phase Hierarchy and/or Start Pages.

Phase Hierarchy

The phase hierarchy is an order of elements that can be grouped together under different folders to describe the process or project lifecycle of your project. You can think of these as phases, activities or tasks.

Creating a phase hierarchy is the task of a Project Administrator who needs PROJECT privilege and is created in Project Setup.

Each element of a phase can run an operation in an organised structure which is shown by expanding folders such as:

  • Running saved queries
  • Opening an item/set of items
  • Expanding a tree
  • Running a matrix
  • Running a metric
  • Producing a report
  • Producing a graph
  • Producing a draft document (Document Publisher)
  • Executing an external command
Phase Hierarchy
Defined Phase Hierarchy

These phase operations are for all users of the project. However, you can restrict operations to a particular team or a particular skill:

Phase hierarchy showing skill
Phase hierarchy showing skill

The phase hierarchy is also used in the Web Access tool.

Please note that the phase hierarchy feature is not available in single-user products.

Start Pages

Whereas a phase hierarchy defines the whole process and the activities to be performed, start pages could help to automate the steps to perform each activity for a particular user or set of users.

Start pages also allow you to open a specific WorkBench dialog or run a tool such as Document Loader that will simplify usage considerably as your users would have all relevant operations in an organised page without having to navigate through all of the menus, ribbons and dialogs.

These are organised in:

  • Labels
  • Headings
  • Actions / multiple actions

You can also add images to your start page which can be very useful in customising the interface for your project:

Start page
Example Start Page

Start pages can also allow you to run multiple operations with a single click.

You can define multiple start pages for a specific set of tasks and for multiple sets of users.

Start Page Details option
Start Page Details option


The phase hierarchy and start pages allow you to simplify the user experience of WorkBench.

The phase hierarchy defines a set of operations in folders which can be filtered for specific sets of users. This feature is not available in single-user products.

Start pages can be more personal and will quickly allow you to complete a task or create an output without having to navigate the WorkBench menu, ribbons and dialogs and saved definition files.