New National Model Software System Requirements

As technology continues to change, so does the sophistication of the software that drives it.  While we continue to add new features and functionality to National Model software, the hardware and operating system requirements must change to support these modifications. This is especially true with all of the great new enhancements coming soon in TraCS 10.05.

Check out the new system recommendations for National Model software here.

You certainly don’t need to run out and buy all new hardware to meet these recommendations, however, please keep them in mind when it is time to purchase new equipment.


New Violation Search Features

In TraCS 10.04.07 we added additional functionality for using the violation search engine. The violation search engine will perform as it has in the past if these additional changes are not applied. First, we have added a new “Default Find Field” option to the Local Violation Manager Editor for each search table.

Default Find Field option:

This option gives the ability to specify which column value to place in the find box of the violation search screen when selecting a row from the violation grid. Initially, the find box contains the value from the databar.

Next, we added options to the databar parameters property of the field on the form used to launch the violation search engine. The two new sections are Primary Keys and Available Violations Filter.

Primary Key option:

The Primary Keys section allows you to choose the search table and column to use as the primary key and requires a field on the form to store the value.

You can choose multiple table/column pairs in order to build the primary key. However for each table/column pair, you will need a separate field on the form to store the values. The form field can be a field already used on the form or a hidden field. The form fields will need to be specified in the databar output fields as follows:

TraCS will use the value from the field(s) to locate the record in the violation search grid as long as the violation field value matches the databar value (meaning the field value was already set and the user did not change the value in the databar prior to clicking the search button).

Available Violations Filter option:

The Available Violations Filter section allows you to specify one or more table/column filter pairs and a corresponding field value that are used to limit the available violations shown in the violations grid.

Then by populating those fields on the form with values that are consistent with the column chosen in the violation search table, allows you to filter the grid.

This can also be accomplished by declaring a “@” variable in a rule.

The following is an example of a rule using the “@” variable:

f@CompendiumWhere := “SortValue < 101″

Then when you perform the search in the Violation Search Engine, the grid results for the compendium table will be filtered to those records with sort values less than 101.

This post can be found on the National Model Knowledge Base here.


Guide to OpenStreetMap Cache Files – MACH v3.09

With the release of MACH v3.x, we now have the option of using OpenStreetMap data in lieu of Google Maps.  What you may not know is that OpenStreetMap provides local caching that is ideal for field units in low-bandwidth areas.

In today’s post, we will cover:

  1. Map Cache Location (changed in version v3.09)
  2. Cache Menu in MACH
  3. Parallel Cache Files

Map Cache Location (as of v3.09)

Each user’s map cache is located in their AppData folder.  For quick access to this location, copy/paste this into a Windows Explorer window:

Windows Vista/7
%LOCALAPPDATA%\MACH\GMap.NET\TileDBv5\en\

Windows XP
%USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Application Data\MACH\GMap.NET\TileDBv5\en\

Default Cache File (Data.gmdb)

The user’s default cache file, Data.gmdb, is located here.  The default cache file will automatically accumulate OpenStreetMap tiles that the user downloads during their normal use of MACH.

Cache Menu in MACH

When using OpenStreepMap in MACH, access the Cache Menu by clicking the gear icon on the right-hand side of the map toolbar:

Access the OpenStreetMap Cache Menu in MACH by clicking the gear icon.

Add visible map to my cache…

Download all tiles and zoom-levels for the area that is currently visible on the map.  In the screenshot above, for example, all of Portersville Borough would be cached.  The downloaded tiles are added to the user’s default cache file.

You can adjust the zoom level of the map, as well as the size of the map window, in order to focus on a specific area.  For example, to cache an entire county, zoom/size your map so that the entire county is visible on your map.  Be careful; attempting to cache a large area may take a long time!

Import cache (.gmdb) file…

Browse to a .gmdb file.  The contents of this .gmdb file will be added to the user’s default cache file.

Export visible map to new cache (.gmdb) file…

Export the visible map to a new cache file.

You will be prompted to select a directory where the cache will be created.  A directory structure as follows will be created with the downloaded data stored in the Data.gmdb file:

[Your selected directory]\TileDBv5\en\Data.gmdb

The Data.gmdb file can be deployed to another machine as the basis of a default cache file, or it can be renamed and deployed as a parallel cache file.

Clear Cache

Clears the user’s default cache file.  Does not affect parallel cache files.

A cache may become outdated as new landmarks, roads, businesses, and other data are added to OpenStreetMap.  This allows the user to purge old data and start with a fresh cache.

Parallel Cache Files

Administrators will enjoy the new parallel cache functionality that has been added to MACH v3.08.  Multiple .gmdb files can be deployed to a user’s cache directory.  When multiple files are present, MACH will utilize the files in tandem as one comprehensive cache.

A default cache file (Data.gmdb) alongside a parallel cache file (Portersville.gmdb) of Portersville Borough.

Benefits of Parallel Cache Files

  • Simplify cache deployment; requires no user-action to import parallel cache files.  Deploying a parallel cache is as easy as copying a file.
  • Create small building blocks for flexible deployment and easy maintenance; create a separate cache file for each county, township, or district; deploy according to each unit’s needs.
  • Push updated cache files to field units without affecting their default cache.
  • Isolate deployed cache files from normal MACH usage; users can add-to, import-into, or clear their default cache file without affecting parallel cache files that have been deployed by the agency.

This post can be found on the National Model Knowledge Base here.


Beware of Firefox 14 if using TraCS Web with https and the Diagram Tool

If your state or agency is using TraCS Web with the Diagram Tool over https and having problems, check the browser you are using.

Recently a change to the Firefox browser caused the Diagram Tool in TraCS Web to no longer work. If using Firefox 14 with TraCS Web over https, you will no longer be able to use the Diagram Tool. However, you are in luck, Firefox 15 resolves this issue. You can download the Beta release of Firefox 15 here:

www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/beta/

Mozilla has announced that Firefox 15 will be available on August 28, 2012.

The Diagram Tool for TraCS Web will still work with previous versions of Firefox as well.

This post can be found on the National Model Knowledge Base here.


Creating User Definable Fields in TraCS

What are User Definable Fields?

User definable fields are custom properties that can be assigned to TraCS users to store additional information about the user. The TraCS baseline contains many of the standard user fields that you would expect. However, there is sometimes a need for additional fields such as rank, troop, etc. Once collected, the user definable field values can be used in rules and to fill in fields on forms automatically.

Creating a New User Definable Field

  • Open the Configuration Manager.
  • Select a security mode.
  • Open the User Configuration Editor.
  • Click the Add button and add a new user definable field. User definable field data is stored in the UserDefinableFields table in the Users database. In file mode, user definable fields are included with the user file. See the User Configuration Editor topic in the Configuration Manager Editors section for property definitions.

Configuring a Form to Use the Definable Field

Form fields can use an input mask that allows them to be populated with the value of a user definable field from the currently logged in user as soon as the form loads in TraCS. For example, each user could have a troop number. Every form could then have a field that displays the troop number of the user that created the form.

  • Open the Forms Builder.
  • Open the desired form and group. Select the field that you want to be populated with a user definable field value.
  • Select the Input Mask property and manually enter the format string using Format User Field(User Definable Field Name).

Creating a Rule that References the Field

You can create rules that check the value of a user definable field. For example, you could check the troop number of a user, and fill in a field on a form with the troop name that matches that number.

  • Open the Rules Builder.
  • Open the rules file that you want to write the rule in.
  • Add the desired rule type.
  • Write the code for the rule. An example rule is displayed below:

MsgBox(“Your Troop Number Is” & GetUserProperty( “TroopNumber” ))

Using the Field when Adding New Users

Once the above setup is complete, you can begin assigning values to the definable field when you add new user accounts. If each user is required to have a value for the field, you may also need to edit existing users accordingly.

NOTE: Using the mass update feature in the User Editor is a good way to update new user definable fields with the same value for multiple existing users.

This post can be found on the National Model Knowledge Base here.


Major TraCS Release 10.05 To Require .NET Framework 4.0

The next major release of TraCS, TraCS 10.05, contains a bunch of new features that you are sure to enjoy.  From master name index searches to AdHoc reporting to “Watch Dog” notifications, TraCS 10.05 is jammed packed with the functionality you asked for.

These enhancements are being built on the latest technology platforms to ensure TraCS stays relevant for years to come.  But that means a couple of growing pains we are going to have to overcome.

The first is that TraCS 10.05 requires .NET Framework 4.0 to be installed on every computer running the client version of the major release.  This means that if you don’t have an enterprise deployment infrastructure in place to roll it out, you will need to manually install .NET 4.0 on each TraCS computer.  .NET 4.0 is a free download from Microsoft and has been out long enough to become a reliable and stable platform.

NOTE: You will need to install the full .NET Framework 4.0 version (Standalone Install – 48.1MB).  The Client Profile version does not contain all of the files necessary for TraCS 10.05 to run properly.

The second hurdle is that because many of the third-party controls have been upgraded in TraCS 10.05,  the auto update patch will be considerably larger than the 10.04.xx minor release patches have been.  This means that when pushing out TraCS 10.05 through auto update, TraCS field units in low-bandwidth areas may have to be called in to receive the update.  Once on 10.05, the patches will go back to their normal smaller file sizes.

Tackling these two technical issues will be well worth it so that your agency can take advantage of the valuable changes made in TraCS 10.05.

Look for the TraCS 10.05 Release Candidate coming soon.

This post can be found on the National Model Knowledge Base here.


Upcoming TraCS Email Enhancements

One of the many enhancements that users will be able to take advantage of in the upcoming major release of TraCS (10.05.00) includes an overhaul of the email functionality and the addition of the email search notification (“watch dog”) system.

The new email enhancements focus on making the setup easier, more centralized, and easier to maintain.  Previously, the email server settings had to be defined separately for each email dependant operation, whether it was batch transmission email notifications or communication instructions designed to send reports via email, even when everything used the same underlying settings. For users that depend on email heavily this dispersed configuration had the potential of becoming burdensome for obvious reasons.

The new design allows you to specify multiple groups of email settings within the Database Connections editor and tag each group with a unique name.  These email settings will contain all SMTP related settings along with the email sender information and everything else that can be shared.  The screenshot below shows how the email server settings are defined in the Database Connections editor.

Along with adding the new centralized method of defining email server settings, the main email settings interface was updated as well.  Now when configuring an email you will simply need to select your desired email settings group from a combo box and add the other common email related information as seen in the form shown below.

Clicking on the buttons associated with each recipient section will bring up an editor containing a list of all available TraCS Users and User Groups to make selection quick and easy.  The recipient email addresses are dynamically pulled from the TraCS Users database at the time an email is sent when using User IDs and User Groups.

This feature makes User Groups particularly useful here by allowing email distribution lists to update automatically when adding or removing users from groups.  It will also be possible to freely enter recipient email addresses here that are not associated with TraCS users.  All areas within TraCS that use email will now share this same new format.

In the past it may have been difficult to determine if an email was sent successfully without searching through log files or verifying with the email recipients themselves that a message was received.  The new design solves this problem and will also give you the ability to resend emails if necessary.  Instead of being sent immediately, all emails originating from TraCS will now be entered into a new database table and will be picked up and sent by a Windows service running on a configurable interval.

A new Email Viewer was added to the Configuration Manager to view previously sent and pending emails.  Users with appropriate access will be able to reset email messages in this viewer for the email service to pick up again.

The items mentioned so far weren’t the only email related enhancements made to TraCS in the upcoming major release.  Two new email related features were also added that will take advantage of the new setup and processing changes.

It will now be possible to send emails from rules using the new email server setting tags.  Rules will now allow you to specify recipient lists, the email subject, and the email body through function parameters.  The rule function will enter the email message into the new database table without any user intervention, and from there the message will be picked up by the email service and sent.

Perhaps the most exciting email related feature to be added is the ability to define search notification emails.  This new “watch dog” functionality allows users with appropriate access to add search notification criteria to their advanced searches (also new for the major release) within the Forms Manager by clicking on the Notifications button within the Advanced Search screen.

Then, by simply entering the basic information on the form shown below, you will be able to add the search notification to the database where it will be processed by a new Windows notification service that will run the advanced searches against the TraCS Data and Archive databases at the specified intervals.

The Windows service will then send out notification emails when records are found by the advanced search that were either added or updated since the last run.  The notification email body will contain identifying information for each match found as shown in the sample email below.

Look for more information on this functionality once we get closer to the next major release possibly through additional blog entries as well as release notes and detailed descriptions in the TraCS documentation.  Hopefully you will find that the new email functionality is not only useful but also easy to set up and maintain.

This post can be found on the National Model Knowledge Base here.


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