Cross References in a Baseline

Cross References in a Baseline

The easiest description of a baseline is, a holding area for information owned by the project, i.e. 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.


Lifecycle Workflows

Item Progression

Lifecycle workflows allow users to progress items through a defined lifecycle.  This process can set the item’s owner or an attribute in the item to a specific value. A workflow is a defined set of steps through which an item can progress. The stages could describe an items design, production or any other flow that matches your process.


The lifecycle of an item is described by the combination of stage steps and review steps. The review step specifies the review’s composition, its rules for making a decision, and the actions to be performed if the review approves item(s) or rejects item(s). The stage step will progress the item through the set of stages that represent its lifecycle. You can set the item’s stage to any of the values in the workflow’s stage category. The category must:

  • Be a single value picklist
  • Have a picklist of values defined
  • Have a default value defined
  • Be mandatory
    example implementation steps found in item lifecycle workflows

    Workflows are part of the project schema and managed through Project Setup


Whist review steps are triggered as an item reaches different stages in the review process (submitted, reviewed, registered and so on) stage steps are triggered by a User issuing an Advance command. This is available on the toolbar or the Configuration Management option on the context menu.


Advance operations for items can be displayed in different forms making available different attributes that are related to the particular phases of their lifecycle.

Lifecycle workflows were introduced in Cradle 7.4, if you’ve not yet upgraded, download now!

Forms – Collapsible Panels

WorkBench Forms

A form is a layout template that is used to display information about items within Cradle. There are multiple attributes of an item that may be displayed, from the name, to categories, to frames.  Forms can soon get complicated, this is where collapsible panels can help.

Collapsible Panels

A feature new in Cradle 7.4

Collapsible panels are placed as a row, or a column on a form definition. These can be barked to display as a normal row/column when opened or to “Show collapsed by default”

The bar at the top of the panel toggles its open state.


Some of the questions often asked regarding forms.

Q: What if a user does not have a skill required to see an attribute?

A: The form will not display this particular aspect of the item. There is no need to create a separate form.

Q: I’ve just added some new frames and categories. Do I have to design a new form?

A: No, the Automatic scope forms will generate a basic form with the new elements included.

Q: Do I have to start from scratch designing a form?

A: No, you can choose any existing form (including the automatically generated ones) suitable  for that item type, make your changes and then ‘Save As‘ to store the newly altered definition.

Q : Do you have to show everything that every user needs on a form?

A: No, forms can have a scope of System, Automatic, Project User type, Team User, or Personal. This allows different users to show different aspects of an item most relevant to them.

Q: Can I show related items?

A: Absolutely, linked items can be shown within a form.

Q: Can I convert existing forms?

A: Yes, just select an existing Row or Column and change the Syle from Basic to Panel. then Save or Save As

Email Alerts!

Alerts In Cradle

When working in a multi engineer environment, it is important to communicate. However, when the team is spatially/geographically distributed it’s not easy to shout across the office that you’ve just updated a particular requirement. You may send an email to your colleagues, but it is easy to forget. It’s much easier if the tool you’re using does it for you. Cradle raises alerts for system and item level activities. These can be toggled active, the recipient chosen and the importance set in the Project Schema.

Alert settings in the Cradle Project Schema setup
Cradle Alert Settings

Recipients can be a Cradle individual, a user list, an automatic selection or a category distribution. When the user next signs in they will see their alerts.

showing alerts in the UI
Cradle Alerts

Alerts by Email

Whilst it is really handy to see the alerts that have been raised when working in the tool, it’s not much use if you’re not logged on. Difficult though it may be to believe, not every user is constantly logged onto Cradle! However, most users are able to accept emails. A number of enhancements were made to Cradle’s email alerts in version 7.4. Previously email could only be sent if the user had a MAPI client on their Windows® machine or SMTP on their Linux client. Now Cradle ships with an SMTP program that will connect directly to your company email server. We now provide templates for the emails that you can customise for corporate style or by including/filtering information.


In the Cradle setup file cradle.ini or cradle.rc find the MAIL_parameters and fill in your company’s settings.
MAIL_CMD = "$C_MAILSEND_EXEFILE" -smtp $MAIL_HOST -port $MAIL_PORT -to $RECIPIENT -from $SENDER -name "$SENDNAME" -sub "$SUBJECT" -mime-type "$MIMETYPE" -cs "$CHARACTERSET" -msg-body "$PATH" -q

showing email alert templates
Alert Templates

The email templates exist in %CRADLEHOME%/admin/email_templates where the three main alert types have templates that can be altered. The settings are documented within the template. Specific templates can be added for particular alerts if you want to add specific content, say instructing people how to conduct a review. Cradle URLs also supported in item alerts, allowing the recipient to click and open Cradle on the subject item.

sample email alert in Cradle
Email Alert

Attribute Sets

Uniqueness Across Single or Multiple Parameters

There are occasions where you want a number of components of an item to be unique, aside from its Identifier. Attribute sets allow you to specify combinations of attributes that are to be unique for an item type.

Set Components

They can be defined for requirements and  system notes. Each attribute set can contain one or more attributes chosen  from:

  • Key
  • Category (single value and multiple value categories)


You can define as few as one or as many as thirty three attributes (all categories and the key) for each set.

An item type can have multiple attribute sets.

In Practice

As an easy to explain concept, this example shows an asset register. The managers of the multiple Town Lodge sites each have assets installed in the building. To aid maintenance and asset recording, they want to ensure combination of:

  • the Building it’s in
  • the Location within the building
  • the Item type for the equipment
  • and an identifying index

are unique.

By setting each of these components as categories in the  ASSET item type, and then selecting Attribute Sets adding an Attribute Set called “Asset identifier” made from these categories, they can check for uniqueness.

Setting an attribute set in Cradle project schema
Attribute Set – Setup


As the user is assigning new items into the asset register, when they attempt to save the item, a uniqueness check is calculated. In this instance the combination has been used before, so the user is not allowed to save this item. In this case all they need to do is up the index of the ‘routers’ in the reception area. Obviously this can be any meaningful combination for your project.

seeing the user interface warning when an attribute entered is not unique
Attribute Set – Operation


These Attribute Sets checks are not as restrictive as an item’s identity.  You would not be allowed to create a duplicate ID/Version/Draft of an item in the database. It is applied when editing and saving an item. This allows you to freely copy items without having to decide on multiple unique combinations at the instant of copying. On subsequently editing and attempting to save the item, the checks would be performed. In a similar manner to ‘Mandatory Categories’.

Regexes (Regular Expressions) in Queries

Regular Expressions (Regexes)

A Regex is simply sequence of characters that define a search pattern. This pattern is then compared with the target test string and will produce a match if the pattern allows.

Cradle Queries

When retrieving information from the database, Cradle uses a query to filter the data returned. It looks for many matches against different aspects  of the item.

Ending Wildcards and Contains

Wildcard matches are available on the Identity and the Key fields The ones most likely to be identifying a hierarchy.

In the example below a query has been run with three values in the identity field.

  1. REQ-1
  2. REQ-1.
  3. REQ-1*

The results show

  1. Only REQ-1 returned  and exact match
  2. REQ-10, REQ-11, REQ-12 …. onwards a text match bringing back the matches greater than the stem. This is really useful for hierarchical numbers, bringing back the children of 1.1 (using 1.1.) say.
  3. REQ-1, REQ-10, REQ-11 a text match where the stem is followed by zero or more characters. This brings back the stem value too.
Wildcard values in a query
Wildcard Query

Contains matches are available on Name and Comment fields. They are case insensitive and look for the string of characters anywhere in the component.

In the example below

  1. regulation

Results in

  • Regulations
  • CAA Regulations
  • Airworthiness Regulations
  • Noise Regulations

This can be a little too wide.

Regular expression (regex) in a query
Regex Query

Regex Query

choosing a regex component in a query
Choose Regex

In order to provide more control it is now (Cradle 7.4) possible to switch to a Regex match. Choose the dropdown at the end of the field and select Regex Match. This will change how the search text is applied.

In the example above

  1. ^Regulation

Brings back

  1. “Regulations” only because the “^” at the beginning is a regex anchor to  the start of the line.


If we were searching for part numbers we might use ^Pt:[AB]+.* to bring back all parts starting Pt:A and Pt:B followed by any other characters.

There are many flavours of Regex, Cradle is based on the PCRE flavour. Instead of documenting the whole set of patterns, it is usually more appropriate for users to use their favourite documentation. We like and

Pros / Cons

Databases have a number of keys and indexes. Cradle is designed to work with these to produce results most effectively. Wildcard endings are more efficient as they match the way the data is sorted internally. Regex expressions have to match against all database entries. therefore there is a performance implication to using this more flexible matching. This is why both methods are provided and users can switch whichever they want on.


Cradle 7.4 – Now Available

We are pleased to announce the latest Cradle release!

3SL customers with active maintenance have been sent an e-mail notification of this release, and details of which enhancement requests and bug reports are in it.

Cradle 7.4 logo

New Capabilities

This release contains a range of new capabilities that are described in its release notes:

Some of the highlights are:

  • SMTP support – Cradle alerts on both Windows and Linux can be sent with a new  SMTP client.
  • Email Alert Templates – More comprehensive and tailor-able SMTP emails for alerts produced by Cradle.
  • Lifecycle Workflows – An extension to the Configuration Management System. This allows items to advance through a number of user defined stages.
  • Attribute Sets – Allows users to define a ‘unique’ identity based on more than one item attribute
  • Web Access Views – Now even closer to those you are familiar with in WorkBench
  • Forms – Collapsible panels, linked item filtering, an run a command button are all new here.
  • Views – Additional commands, linked item filtering get you the actions and items you need more easily.
  • Queries – More fields now support Regex formats for more flexibility
  • Hierarchy Diagrams – More colouring options to highlight the parts of the data you want to draw attention to.


It is available from our website here:

You need a new Security Code for Cradle-7.4, other Security Codes cannot be used. There is a database conversion from 7.3 to 7.4. The converter will run automatically if you install Cradle-7.4 over the top of, in the same directory as, the earlier version of Cradle from which you are upgrading.

You must upgrade all Cradle installations to 7.4. Cradle-7.3 clients cannot connect to a Cradle-7.4 server, and a Cradle-7.4 server cannot serve Cradle-7.3 clients.

We hope that you will welcome the new capabilities in Cradle-7.4!