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.

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

 

Using Mailsend for Sending Alerts

Email Alerts

In our article Email Alerts! In Cradle  we discussed using Mailsend utility so you can use SMTP rather than MAPI to send emails alerts. We touched briefly on the configuration within Cradle of using the utility. In this post, we’ll be expanding on that. Providing an example of a Mail Relay within the Cradle environment rather than talking directly to a company SMTP server.

Why use a relay?

sending and receiving email based on rawpixel.com on Pexels
Mailsend

So why shouldn’t we configure all the Cradle clients to talk directly through Mailsend to a company mail server?
For starters, the company mail server may be locked down to only accept SMTP emails from specific hosts, and so wouldn’t accept SMTP connections from every Cradle desktop client.

Using a relay means that the company mail server only needs to accept SMTP connections from a single host, the mail relay, as all the Cradle Mailsend desktop clients talk via the relay.

So, how do we setup a relay

Its as simple as installing the relay software and configure it. Currently we use Postfix in installations where we need a relay as we’re usually using Linux as a Cradle Database Server. Postfix is a package available on most/all Linux distributions.

Then its just a case of configuring it to accept incoming connections from the Cradle desktop clients. We lock this down to a subnet of IP addresses. Then set the relay host to being the company mail server which will deliver the email alerts. In this example we’re using Postfix to Cradle clients on 2 subnets, and the localhost. The cradle.ini/cradle.rc files then points to the relay host and not the company mail server.

eg.

# cradle.rc
MAIL_HOST = cradle.example.com
MAIL_PORT = 25


# Postfix main.cf
myhostname = cradle.example.com
inet_interfaces = all
inet_protocols = all
mynetworks = 192.168.0.0/24, 192.168.1.0/24, 127.0.0.1
relayhost = [mail.example.com]:25

Related Articles

Email Alerts!

How do I receive alerts via email?

Batch File Startups & Shortcuts

There are a number of options that you can use when starting tools. WorkBench for example can be started connecting to a specific CDS. Sometimes, specific environment variables must be set. This is where using a Windows batch file startup is useful.

Windows Batch Files

A batch file is a short script, a list of commands that are run as if you had executed them from the command line. It could be that you want to connect to a company driver, run WorkBench and then exit. You may want to run a specific query on a specific project with the UI in a particular language.

batch file content
Command Batch Files

Examples

Run WorkBench in English connecting to a particular server.

@rem starting Cradle WorkBench in English on UK_3SL_07 server
set CRADLE_UI_LANG=en_gb
start "Cradle WorkBench" "%CRADLEHOME%\bin\exe\windows\work.exe" -cds UK_3SL_07

Run WorkBench, with the company documents drive connected.

rem starting Cradle WorkBench with documents drive
echo Mapping network drive...
net use z: \\UK_3SL_07\company
if errorlevel 1 (
echo Unable to use shared folder \\UK_3SL_07\company
echo Quitting!
exit /b
)
"%CRADLEHOME%\bin\exe\windows\work.exe"
net use z: /delete

Run WorkBench, logging in and showing a query with a French UI.

@rem starting Cradle WorkBench in French and run query
set CRADLE_UI_LANG=fr
start "Cradle WorkBench" "%CRADLEHOME%\bin\exe\windows\work.exe" -action queryrun -query "Design - linked Test" -qloc project -login NISHMA,nishma,WOSY

Once you save the batch file, you can execute it from the File Manager, or a Shortcut, or as we’ve illustrated by double clicking the icons on the desktop.

Shortcuts

Windows desktop shortcuts can be created to directly run WorkBench. You’ll be able to set all the command line options, but won’t be able to do anything like connecting a drive.

Simply drag the WorkBench icon from the WindowsStart menu‘ onto your desktop. Right click and select Properties then add any options to the command line in the Target field. This example shows how we log into the DEMO project really quickly.

running WorkBench from a shortcut
WorkBench shortcut

Command Line Options for WorkBench

If you run WorkBench from the command line with a -help option,

C:\”%CRADLEHOME%\bin\exe\windows\work.exe” -help

you’ll be shown all the values that can be entered into a command line call.

list of command line options for WorkBench
WorkBench Command Line Options
usage: work.exe [options]
options are:
   [-cds]
   [-display ]
   [-login ,,]
   [-noldap]
   [-nobanner]
   [-ro]
   [-action {itemview | queryrun}]
   for itemview:
      -pduid [-version ] [-draft ]
      [-form -floc ]
   for queryrun:
      -query -qloc
      [-view -vloc ]
   where loc is one of:
      system automatic project usertype team user personal
   [-errorstack]
   [-ver]
   [-help]

These values can be used in a direct shortcut (see this related shortcut article) , or in the command entered into he batch file.

Related Articles

Desktop Login Shortcut

Batch File Reporting in Cradle

URL to Launch WorkBench/Web Access Open Item/Query

Cross References in a Baseline

Cross References in a Baseline

The easiest description of a baseline is, a snapshot of how the database/items were at a particular point in time. There are both items and cross references in a baseline. The more cross references you have the larger the files will be. This means that if you do have many Baselines, you could find significant space being used on the server.

Are Baselines Taking Up a Lot of Server Space?

In our latest release of Cradle 7.4, cross references are separated from the other files when a baseline is closed. The cross references in each one are now placed in separate uniquely identified folders. Each folder has an alphanumerical identity, dependent on the length of the name for the baseline. This is twice the length of the baseline name.

The Baseline Folders
The Baseline Folders containing the Cross Reference folders.

Inside each of these folders are 4 files containing the cross references and their attributes. The files will be different sizes depending on the number of cross references that existed at the time the baseline was taken.

Baselines Cross Reference Folders
Baselines Cross Reference Folders

Folder Maintenance.

As these are individual baselines, a user can then zip these folders and remove them from the Baseline folder. Taking the four older folders, they total approximately 232KB on disk. If a user zips each folder it comes to 3KB each. If zipped into 1 file it comes to 9KB and so a saving of over 220KB.

Baselined Cross Reference Folder Zipped
Baselined Cross Reference Folders after zipping

Most databases are much later than this and so the space saving could be much larger. The user could also move the zipped files to a different server if required and so saving more space.

The only downside to doing this, is that if a user wishes to use Baseline Mode to see the cross references in a baseline, they will not instantly be there. Therefore, should the cross references be required in the future, just unzip the file into the original folder. Once the file is unzipped, a user can set the Baseline Mode and they will see the old cross references.

Related Articles

For a longer more in depth description of Baselines and Configuration Management click here.

 

Remote Workers and Cradle – Network Address Translation

Your company is using Cradle, but you’re a remote worker – how do you connect to the Cradle Database Server (CDS)?

With Network Address Translation – the IT administrator, where the CDS is located, can modify their firewall to redirect specific external ports to a local server.

Make a note of the internal IP address of the CDS – we’ll use CDS_IPADDR later in this post to reference this address. (In this test environment it is 192.168.11.168).

Cradle Configuration Changes

As an example of a small Cradle system with 6 users, we can configure the ports file as such.  We’re setting ports for each possible user (6) and an extra – so thats 7 ports in each range. To make it easier setting the firewall rules – so we have less rules to setup, we’ve got all the ports in UDP and TCP specific consecutive blocks, which is different to how we have them in the Cradle Help – https://www.threesl.com/cradle/help/

CDS_UDP_PORT_NUMBER = 23960
TOOL_UDP_PORT_NUMBER = 23961
PRJMAN_UDP_PORT_NUMBER = 23962

CDS_TCP_TOOL_PORT_NUMBER   = 16161
CDS_TCP_PRJMAN_PORT_NUMBER = 16162
UTILITIES_TCP_PORT_NUMBER   = 16163-16169
WBENCH_TCP_PORT_NUMBER      = 16170-16176
PRJMAN_TCP_PORT_NUMBER      = 16177

This ports file needs to be copied to all the clients using this CDS.

Firewall Config Changes

The IT administrator can now edit their firewall rules to redirect the external IP ports to the internal CDS.  As part of these rules they can set it so that only specific remote IP addresses are permitted to access these redirected ports.

I’m using pfSense as the example firewall in this case, and adding separate rules for each Cradle Port.
pfSense Cradle NAT Rules

Through the application of Network Address Translation, the remote worker now uses their locally installed Cradle client installation and talks to the Cradle Database Server, as if it is on the Cradle site’s external IP address – which they need to configure as their CRADLE_CDS_HOST address.

Article Updated

28/06/2021 – Use of port ranges in firewall rules.

Related Articles

Remote Workers and Cradle – how do they communicate?

Tree Style

You can find items in a Cradle database by running a query. For example, you can use the pre-defined queries in the Quick Access Bar at the bottom of the UI. Once the query has run, the results are shown in a display style. Tree style is one of the four styles available:

A view is used to specify which parts (attributes) of the items will be shown. A display style controls how these attributes will be displayed, and the facilities that are available to you.

Tree Style

This is the second most frequently-used of the display styles after table style. It displays each item as a node in a tree, with a set of columns for the other attributes:

display items using tree style in 3SL Cradle RM SE Tool
Items Shown in Tree Style

There are two views used to display trees:

  • A view that specifies the contents of the node shown in the tree. You specify this view in the schema for the item type.
  • A view that specifies the attributes shown in columns to the right of the tree

To have items displayed in this style:

  • Specify it in the query to be run:
choose tree style in a query in 3SL Cradle RM SE Tool
Specify Tree Style in a Query
  • Also, select it from the Context group in the Home tab:
choose tree style in the UI in 3SL Cradle RM SE Tool
Choose Tree Style in the UI Ribbon
  • Or, right click and choose Style -> Tree from the context-sensitive menu
  • Finally, press <CTRL> and 4

Facilities

  • Use the left mouse button to select individual items
  • You can select a groups of items by selecting the first and then pressing <SHIFT> and the left mouse button to select the end of the group
  • Press <CTRL> and the left mouse button to select or de-select individual items
  • You can shrink and widen the display columns. Move your cursor to the edge of a column heading and the cursor will become a pair of arrows. Press, drag and release the left mouse button to change the column’s width.
  • You can follow cross references by expanding the tree node for the item. Cradle will find all cross references to and from the item, select which cross references to use, and display the items at the other end of these cross references as new nodes in the tree.
  • Use drag-and-drop items between trees to create cross references between the items
  • Drag-and-drop items inside a hierarchy of the same type of items to reorder that hierarchy and automatically rebuild the hierarchical numbering within it

You can expand a tree node by:

  • Click its + button
  • Select the text of the tree node and press: +
  • Select the text of the tree node, right click, and choose Expand from the menu
  • Double click on the text of the tree node

You can collapse a tree node by:

  • Click its button
  • Double-click on the text of the tree node
  • Select the text of the tree node and press:
  • Select the text of the tree node, right click, and choose Collapse from the menu

Advantages

The advantages of tree style are that it is:

  • The simplest way to explore items and their relationships
  • A convenient method to create cross references
  • The easiest way to reorganise a hierarchy of items

If you want to do anything with cross references between items, or to work in a hierarchy of items, then this is the best display style to use.

Disadvantages

The disadvantages of tree style are that:

  • It provides a limited ability to display information
  • You cannot edit information directly

Summary

Tree style is the most convenient method to work with cross references within a set of items and between one set of items and other sets of information.

Therefore, we recommend this style whenever you need to work with cross references between items and inside hierarchies.

Document Style

You can find items in a Cradle database by running a query. For example, you can use the pre-defined queries in the Quick Access Bar at the bottom of the UI. Once the query has run, the results are shown in a display style. Document style is one of the four styles available:

A view is used to specify which parts (attributes) of the items will be shown. A display style controls how these attributes will be displayed, and the facilities that are available to you.

Document Style

This is the second most flexible of all the display styles. It displays each item as a set of one or more rows and one or more columns (as controlled by the view), with invisible borders around each of the cells. You can edit items directly in this display style.

display items using document style in 3SL Cradle RM SE Tool
Items Shown in Document Style

This display style is similar to table style, except that:

  • The height of each item’s row is set by the information to be shown. So some rows are shallow and other rows are deep. If an attribute contains no data, its height will be close to zero.
  • Different sized fonts are used to display the first row in the view. The size of the font is based on the level of the item being shown. This level is based on the number of dots (periods) in the first attribute shown in the row. This is typically the Key, or whatever attribute you may have specified to hold the item’s hierarchical number.
  • The borders around the rows and columns are invisible

For document style, you should use views that show attributes in successive rows, rather than successive columns. For example:

view to items using document style in 3SL Cradle RM SE Tool
Arrangement of Attributes in a View for Document Style

The result is that items are displayed in a style that looks like a document, with large font for section headings and smaller fonts used for subsection headings.

To have items displayed in this style:

  • Specify it in the query to be run:
choose document style in a query in 3SL Cradle RM SE Tool
Specify Document Style in a Query
  • Also, select it from the Context group in the Home tab:
choose document style in the UI in 3SL Cradle RM SE Tool
Choose Document Style in the UI Ribbon
  • Or, right click and choose Style -> Document from the context-sensitive menu
  • Finally, press CTRL and 3

Facilities

Document style provides a wide range of faciltiies.

Selecting Items

  • Use the left mouse button to select individual items
  • You can select a groups of items by selecting the first and then pressing SHIFT and the left mouse button to select the end of the group
  • Press <CTRL> and the left mouse button to select or de-select individual items

Changing the Display

  • You can shrink and widen the display columns. Move your cursor to the edge of a column heading and the cursor will become a pair of arrows. Press, drag and release the left mouse button to change the column’s width.
  • You can move any row or column in the view. Move your cursor onto any cell border and the cursor will become a pair of arrows. Press, drag and release the left mouse button to move that border.
  • By default, all rows are displayed with different heights, you can increase or decrease the height of any row
  • You can sort the data in any column. Click the column heading and choose a sort order, either ascending or descending, in either a case-sensitive or case-insensitve manner (this only applies to languages that have upper-case and lower-case characters)
  • Tooltips are displayed for each column. Move your cursor into a column heading and after a second, a description of that attribute will be shown. You can enter these descriptions in the schema.
  • You can see tooltips for some attribute values. Move your cursor into a cell that displays a category with a pick-list of possible values. A tooltip appears containing a description of that category and category value. You can enter these descriptions in the schema.

Exploring Data

  • You can expand rows to follow cross references. Double-click the heading for an item’s row and that row will expand to show one new row for each item linked to the original item. Repeat this as many times as you like.
  • You will see the level of any expanded row as the number of dots in its row heading
  • You can collapse rows by double-clicking the row heading.

Editing Data

  • You can edit items directly Click inside any cell. If you have RW access to the item, Cradle locks the item so you can edit it.

Advantages

The advantages of document style are that it is:

  • Flexible. You can adjust the display and sort information.
  • Navigable. You can explore the database by expanding rows to follow cross references.
  • Editable. You can edit information through the display style.
  • Readable. All items are shown with a display height to display their entire contents.

Disadvantages

The disadvantages of document style are that:

  • It takes much longer to display than list style or tree style
  • The rows displaying information are of different heights, so you may not see many items at the same time. You may need to scroll more than in other display styles.

Summary

Document style is the second most flexible of Cradle’s four display styles, after table style. It is not the quickest style to generate, but it does provide a familiar document-like view of information and a lot of capability.

Therefore, we recommend document style whenever you want to display items in a document format. This can be very helpful for users who are more familiar with using documents, rather than data-orientated tools.

Table Style

You can find items in a Cradle database by running a query. For example, you can use the pre-defined queries in the Quick Access Bar at the bottom of the UI. Once the query has run, the results are shown in a display style. Table style is one of the four styles available:

A view is used to specify which parts (attributes) of the items will be shown. A display style controls how these attributes will be displayed, and the facilities that are available to you.

Table Style

This is the most flexible of all the display styles. It displays each item as a set of one or more rows and one or more columns (as controlled by the view), with borders around each of the cells. You can edit items directly in this display style.

display items using table style in 3SL Cradle RM SE Tool
Items Shown in Table Style

To have items displayed in this style:

  • Specify it in the query to be run:
choose table style in a query in 3SL Cradle RM SE Tool
Specify Table Style in a Query
  • Also, select it from the Context group in the Home tab:
choose table style in the UI in 3SL Cradle RM SE Tool
Choose Table Style in the UI Ribbon
  • Or, right click and choose Style -> Table from the context-sensitive menu
  • Finally, press <CTRL> and 2

Facilities

Table style provides a wide range of facilities.

Selecting Items

  • Use the left mouse button to select individual items
  • You can select a groups of items by selecting the first and then pressing SHIFT and the left mouse button to select the end of the group
  • Press <CTRL> and the left mouse button to select or de-select individual items

Changing the Display

  • You can shrink and widen the display columns. Move your cursor to the edge of a column heading and the cursor will become a pair of arrows. Press, drag and release the left mouse button to change the column’s width.
  • You can move any row or column in the view. Move your cursor onto any cell border and the cursor will become a pair of arrows. Press, drag and release the left mouse button to move that border.
  • By default, all rows are displayed the same height, but you can increase the height of any row
  • You can sort the data in any column. Click the column heading and choose a sort order, either ascending or descending, in either a case-sensitive or case-insensitve manner (this only applies to languages that have upper-case and lower-case characters)
  • Tooltips are displayed for each column. Move your cursor into a column heading and after a second, a description of that attribute will be shown. You can enter these descriptions in the schema.
  • You can see tooltips for some attribute values. Move your cursor into a cell that displays a category with a pick-list of possible values. A tooltip appears containing a description of that category and category value. You can enter these descriptions in the schema.

Exploring Data

  • You can expand rows to follow cross references. Double-click the heading for an item’s row and that row will expand to show one new row for each item linked to the original item. Repeat this as many times as you like.
  • You will see the level of any expanded row as the number of dots in its row heading
  • You can collapse rows by double-clicking the row heading.

Editing Data

  • You can edit items in a table. Click inside any cell in the table. If you have RW access to the item, Cradle locks the item so you can edit it.

Advantages

The advantages of table style are that it is:

  • Flexible. You can adjust the display and sort information.
  • Navigable. You can explore the database by expanding rows to follow cross references.
  • Editable. You can edit information through the display style.
  • Compact. All items are shown with the same display height.

Disadvantages

The disadvantages of table style are that:

  • It takes longer to display than list style or tree style
  • The rows displaying information are all the same height, so you may have to click in a cell or expand a row border to see all of the information in some attributes

Summary

Table style is the most flexible of Cradle’s four display styles. It is not the quickest to generate, but it provides the most capability.

Therefore, we recommend table style as the best general purpose display style in Cradle. Unless you need something provided by a different display style, use table style.