What's New in MainBoss 3.4
The following lists changes between MainBoss Advanced 3.4 and the previous release.
Many more MainBoss fields now have multi-select drop-down lists that let you select multiple values simultaneously. For example, when you are assigning multiple people to a work order, you can click the drop-down button and select all of the assignees from the resulting list, rather than having to drop-down, select, and save repeatedly.
Multi-select drop-down lists are indicated by a special sort of drop-down arrow:
Whenever a drop-down list has this arrow, you can select multiple entries from the list using standard Windows techniques: either hold down the <Ctrl> key and then click the entries you want, or else hold down the <Shift> key and select a block of entries by clicking the first and last entries of the block. Right-clicking on a list provides a menu of useful actions that will let you check or uncheck many entries at a time.
The effects of selecting multiple entries from a list depend on the context. As one useful example, you can now select which unit maintenance plans will be used to generate preventive maintenance work orders; this means you can quickly create a small set of work orders when you don't want to generate all possible work orders.
Multi-select is also available in table viewers. If you select multiple records in a table viewer, MainBoss will let you Edit or View those records. When you click Edit or View, MainBoss will open an editor showing you the first record selected. This window will have a Next button that will let you go to the next record selected once you've finished dealing with the first record. (If you make changes to a record, Next will be disabled until you click Save to save your changes or Cancel to discard them.)
There is also a Previous button that will go back to the previous entry in a list you are working with.
Multi-select facilities will not let you create multiple new records; new records must be created individually.
As a result of the new multi-select facilities, you can now generate preventive maintenance work orders selectively by specifying which tasks and/or unit maintenance plans you want to use in the generation. You do not have to generate all jobs at once.
Changes to Reports
All windows for printing reports now have a Print button at the bottom of the window. Clicking this button will immediately print the report using any options specified in the Sorting, Filtering, and Advanced sections of the window. In this way, you can immediately start printing a report, without having to get a Preview first.
Report-printing windows also have a Cancel button that will cancel the preparation of a print-out (i.e. when MainBoss is gathering and formatting the material to be printed). This button is only enabled when such preparation is taking place. (Once the data has been gathered and formatted, the result is delivered to the Microsoft Windows printing facilities. From that point on, MainBoss's Cancel button won't work; to cancel the print-out, you must use the print cancellation features of Windows itself.)
Depending on the configuration of Windows and the Microsoft Report Viewer, canceling a report may result in a diagnostic message. Typically, you can just ignore this message.
Reports are now adjusted to make better use of different paper sizes; for example, column widths are automatically increased or decreased to match paper width. The default paper size will be set to the same size as your default printer. You may now use either portrait or landscape format. Some reports now default to landscape format to allow the printing of more columns per output line.
In connection with the changes to the way reports are generated, several bugs have been fixed and the format of many reports has been improved. For example, some types of data are now shown in columns rather than rows, or vice versa; these changes are intended to make the reports more readable. The Advanced section of many reports gives you more control over what will and won't be included in the report; you can choose which columns will show or not show. In some reports, the default options have been changed.
Reports now let you specify grouping, sub-grouping, and/or sorting. Headings will be printed for each group and sub-group within the report. In many reports, new options let you ask for summaries in groups and sub-groups (e.g. totals and sub-totals of monetary amounts). By adjusting options, you can get a report that only consists of summary lines, thereby getting a very compact version of the important information.
Sub-group options only appear if you choose a group option. The same is true for sub-sorting options. For both grouping and sorting, sort direction options only appear if you choose a grouping or sorting option where sort direction matters.
There are now two accounting reports: one that breaks down information based on cost center, and one that gives transactions by date.
MainBoss Advanced 3.4 introduces the concept of relationships between units and contacts or between units and other units. A relationship is an arbitrary connection expressed in straightforward language. For example, here are some possible relationships between units and contacts:
- Unit X is a piece of equipment whose operator is Contact A
- Unit X is a piece of equipment leased from Contact B
- Unit X is an office suite leased by Contact C
- Unit X is an office suite cleaned by Contact D
Here are some possible relationships between units and units:
- Unit X is a water heater that supplies hot water for Units A, B, C...
- Unit X is the HVAC unit for Units A, B, C... (all of which are offices)
- Unit X is a washroom shared by occupants of Units A, B, C...
To set up a relationship, you use Coding Definitions | Relationships. This lets you create relationship records, with which you put in words what the relationship means. For example, you might have a relationship between a unit and a contact person which specifies two phrases:
- The contact has leased the unit
- The unit is leased by the contact
Once you have set up the relationship, you can specify relationships between units and units/contacts. A unit can have the same or different relationships with any number of units or contacts, and vice versa.
You can now sort displays on the web pages that MainBoss generates, e.g. when you check the work orders to which you've been assigned or the work requests that you've submitted.
Web pages created for the Web Access and Web Requests modules have been slightly reformatted for better viewing on various browsers (especially handheld devices).
Requests and work orders shown on web pages now show additional information, including state and status. Diagnostic messages (if any) are more noticeable, and the "Close" button is not displayed if the request or work order has already been closed. E-mail messages sent out as notifications also contain additional information.
The Web Access features of MainBoss Remote now allow the sorting of requests and work orders in a manner similar to the sorting facilities inside regular MainBoss table viewers.
When you are examining a unit record using Web Access, there is a Show on Map link that will show you the unit's location using Google Maps (if the unit record includes the necessary location information).
Improving the MainBoss Status Window
The MainBoss Status window (at the top of the control panel) now provides more information, some of which is shown in graphical form. In particular, you'll see information on In-Progress requests and Open work orders; these provide a quick indication of work that may require action in the near future.
Bar Code Support
MainBoss now makes it possible to print out bar codes as part of a report. For example, when you print a work order, you can have MainBoss include a bar code on the work order; the bar code gives the work order's identifying number. You can do the same for requests and purchase orders. Unit and storeroom assignment records now have an "External Tag" field where you can specify a string of characters to print out in bar code format when you print a unit or storeroom assignment record.
When you read a bar code into MainBoss, the program will move to the record that contains that bar code. For example, if you scan the bar code for a work order while MainBoss is active, MainBoss will display the corresponding work order record. Similarly, if you scan the bar code for an inventory item, MainBoss will move to the record that has that bar code value in the "External Tag" field.
To specify which bar code format MainBoss should use, choose from the available formats listed in the "Advanced" section of the window for printing the report. You can also set a default format for your organization in Administration | Company Information.
- On Vista and Windows 7, if you (successfully) use "Run as Administrator" to run MainBoss, you are automatically considered a MainBoss user with MainBoss's Administration security role, whether or not your login name appears in MainBoss's Users table. This means that privileged IT personnel can perform "housekeeping" operations such as database upgrades without being added to the Users table.
- In many table viewers, typing the first few characters of a line will jump you down to the line that matches those characters. For example, if you're in the Items table, typing "st" will jump down to the first item whose name starts with "st".
- The process for installing MainBoss Service has changed substantially. Make sure you follow the instructions given on the installation web page.
- If you have the MainBoss Service module and you change the requestor on a request, the new requestor will be sent an email message containing all the "Comments to Requestor" from all the current state history records. In other words, the new requestor receives everything needed to "catch up" with the current status of the request. (The previous requestor will no longer receive acknowledgment messages, unless the requestor is added to the request's Assignee list.)
- If you delete a person's contact record, no further acknowledgments will be sent to that person, even if the person remains the official requestor of active requests.
- There is now a standard Windows "Help" button on the status bar at the bottom of the MainBoss window. This obtains the same online help that you get by pressing F1.
- Any drop-down list that lets you choose a storage assignment now displays the available quantity of given items in each storeroom.
- In a table viewer, the contents are sorted in ascending or descending order according to one of the information columns. MainBoss now indicates which column is being used for the sort, by putting a small arrow above the column heading. The arrow points upward if the table is sorted in ascending order and downward for descending order.
- When preventive maintenance work orders are generated, they are assigned work order numbers sorted by "Work Start Date"—this has always been the case, to make sure that spare parts are reserved in the right chronological order. In previous releases, however, work orders for each starting date were essentially random. Now they are sorted by "Subject" heading.
- In reports, the "Suppress Active Filter restrictions" option has been replaced with "Show only active records". When the new option is checkmarked, only active records appear in the report; when the new option is blank, non-active records may also be included in the report (depending on other options).
- In reports, the "Show Deleted Records" option has moved from the Advanced section to the Filtering section.
In Work Order table viewers, if you click "Priority" in the heading bar,
the work orders will be sorted numerically by "Priority Rank" rather than
alphabetically by "Priority" name.
Work orders with no priority (i.e. a blank field) are considered to have
the least urgent priority, and therefore will be sorted after work orders
that actually have a priority value.
Request table viewers have been changed in the same way.
- There is now an Update Licenses button in Administration | Licenses. This lets you enter several license keys at once. For example, if Thinkage sends you new license keys in an e-mail message, you can just "Copy" the keys from the message, then "Paste" them into a window opened by Update Licenses. This saves you the trouble of actually typing in the keys, or copying/pasting them individually.
- All of the license keys for your database must now have the same license ID. In addition, all of the license keys must be valid. If either of these conditions is not true, you will get the error message "License cannot be used as found" and MainBoss will not start. To correct this problem, a user with the MainBoss Administration security role must start MainBoss in "Administration" mode and delete the erroneous license key(s).
- There is now a Clear Events entry on the Set Minimum Logging button in Administration | MainBoss Service. This deletes all the entries in the MainBoss Service events log.
- Several reports can now be grouped by days, weeks, and months. When you do so, you get summaries at the end of each group section. For example, if you group accounting records by months, then days, you'll get a summary of costs for each day, plus a summary of costs for each month.
- Units of Measurement have been added to a number of windows related to purchasing, receiving, and inventory items.
- Many reports now give you more control over what information does and doesn't appear. In previous versions of MainBoss, certain information fields were "locked into" the reports—you didn't have a choice whether the information appeared or not. Now you do. By default, however, MainBoss 3.4 sets up default report options to match the "locked-in" information in earlier MainBoss versions. As a result, the default version of a report should show the same information as the report in earlier MainBoss versions.
Many reports now have a "Show Report in Columns" option in the "Advanced" section.
This organizes a report so that there is a single "line" for each record in the
report, with the fields of each line broken up into separate columns.
This format can be very useful if you only want to see a few pieces of
information from each record (as dictated by the "Show" checkboxes).
However, it becomes unreadable if you try to cram too many pieces of
information on a single line.
Note that if you print out the report in "landscape" format rather than "portrait", you can put more on a line without losing readability. To change the format, use the "Page Setup" button.
Note also that the column format is particularly useful if you intend to export the report to Microsoft Excel. In this case, it doesn't matter if the columns don't fit well on a piece of paper—in Excel, you can expand the columns so that they're readable on your computer screen.
A number of windows for printing reports have
a new option: Show Transactions in the Advanced section.
If you checkmark this option, the report will show all the accounting transactions
associated with a work order; it will also show the original estimates associated
If you leave the option blank, you'll just get a summary
line for each item, worker, and miscellaneous charge.
For example, suppose you make an error in recording the price of an external contractor and have to make a correction. If you checkmark Show Transactions, the work order history will show the original erroneous accounting entry, and also the correction. If you leave Show Transactions blank, you will just see the final corrected amount.
- The Items Restocking report now has a Show Items at Min Value option in the Advanced section. If you leave the option blank, the report will only show items that are below their specified minimum quantity. If you checkmark the option, the report will show you items that have exactly reached their specified minimum quantity, as well as items that have fallen below their minimum; this lets you see items that may soon fall below their minimum.
- Previously, many report windows had a Grouping and Sorting section. In this release, the section has been split into a Grouping section and a Sorting section to allow more space for options. Almost all reports allow multiple grouping and sorting criteria; for example, if you specify a grouping option, you are immediately allowed to specify sub-grouping too. (Note that if you specify too many grouping/sorting options, you may end up with a report that is difficult to read.)
- There are several new grouping/sorting options in reports. For example, the Work Order History Report has options for "Start Date", "Start Date Month", "Start Date Week", and "Start Date Year", all of which sort the report according to the "Work Start Date", but group according to the day, month, week, or year respectively. The result of grouping affects the totals and sub-totals that the report calculates for various information. For example, "Start Date Week" gives you totals and sub-totals for every week, while "Start Date Month" gives you totals and sub-totals for every month.
- Description and Comments fields may now be included in the Units report.
- You may now associate a default "Payment Terms" with a vendor. This states what the vendor's usual terms are. When making up a purchase order addressed to that vendor, you may choose to use the default payment terms or specify different terms.
- The "Scope Name" field in user records has been moved from the "Details" section of the record to the "Advanced" section.
- The main Administration window now lists the applications that are currently connected to the database (i.e. the application that each connected user is running).
- It is now possible to delete e-mail requests from the list given in Administration -> E-mail Requests.
- The Receiving report now includes Miscellaneous line items from purchase orders. This release also fixes a bug which caused the Receiving report to miscalculate certain costs. Finally, the columns of the report now have an improved layout.
- The "Unit Contact" field is no longer shown in the "Details" section of a unit record. Instead, that information appears in the unit record's "Related" section. To specify the contact person associated with a unit, click "New Unit Related Contact" and then set the "Relationship" field to "Unit Contact".
- The Task report can now include the "Generate Lead Time" and "Maximum Generate Lead Time" fields from task records.
- Previous releases had a problem where reports occasionally contained a lot of unnecessary blank space. This bug has been fixed.
- A number of diagnostic messages have been reworded or expanded to provide clearer explanations if something goes wrong. For lengthy operations (e.g. restoring a database from backup), you may also receive a message indicating that the operation completed successfully.
- The e-mail notifications that MainBoss Service sends out about work orders now include the requestor and unit code as part of the notification message.
- MainBoss Service now sends acknowledgments correctly if a request's requestor changes. (In earlier versions of MainBoss, acknowledgments were always sent to the original requestor.)
- The "About" box now displays which Regional Settings you are using (which influences the language in which MainBoss operates).