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(Covers: Introduction, Cut & Paste and JPG / web files and Webbase location, Slow Printing, Store Intranet use, Merging Store databases, Style editing warning, Slow screen update, On-top Windows, Dead Windows processes, Alternate Storfile location, Moving between machines, Webbase and Explorer, Cylinder Modes, Alternate Manual Formats, Single Use Protection, Screen Font Size, Display of your logo on Reports, Wide Screen Displays, Alternate Palletisation report Format / Ti-High report , Mini-Collation and Splash Screens ).

A1.1 Introduction.

During the development and testing phases of this release of PALLETMANAGER, a very substantial effort has been applied to ensure that the new screens and documentation match in arrangement and terminology earlier releases, thus making the transition to the new release all the easier. All data and user files from earlier releases are compatible with this release.

Our web site contains extensive support information which is naturally updated on a regular basis. If software bugs are discovered then those users on maintenance who are likely to be affected are naturally contacted and if appropriate updates provided. All our software development is carried out on Windows 7 systems, but a routine part of our testing is (naturally) on Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 8 machines.

A1.2 Cut and Paste and .JPG / Web files and alternate Webbase file location..

On all graphics display screens two image copy operations are supported:

On all such screens it is possible to cut part of the screen image onto the clipboard. This is done by positioning the mouse at one corner of the area required and then depressing the left mouse button and stretching the rectangular area to enclose the region - then release the mouse button. (A non-trivial sized region must be selected). A screen message indicates that the action has taken place is then displayed. 

When displaying any of the PALLETMANAGER report screens two cut (& paste) operations are available. One (described immediately above) copies using the left mouse button a selected rectangular area to the clipboard. The other copies the complete printer page (i.e. 2 screens worth) to the clipboard. This is activated by simply pressing and releasing the right mouse button whilst viewing any on-screen report. Once on the clipboard the image can then be pasted directly into other Windows applications. 

It is also possible to create .JPG graphics files using the new Webbase module and using buttons available on the print / view screens - this is covered in detail in Section 14 of this manual. Once again we would emphasize that this copies the complete report page as printed and not just the top / bottom half as displayed.

The Webbase files are normally stored in a folder named jpgfiles located immediately below the folder in which PALLETMANAGER is installed. It is possible to configure PALLETMANAGER to use another location for these files:

Please note that when you run the utility configjpg it will test that the folder you select can be written to and inform you if an invalid selection has been made. Also, when you save specifications to the Webbase the software will ensure the folder you have specified is indeed available at that moment and if not inform you accordingly, and then write the JPG file(s) you have attempted to save to the standard default location - folder jpgfiles immediately below the PALLETMANAGER installation folder. Likewise, when entering the Webbase to view entries (from the opening screen), you will be alerted if the specified alternate location is not accessible.

A1.3 High Quality Printing / Slow Printing.

The graphics reports output by PALLETMANAGER typically require some 10 to 20 seconds to output on a modern laser printer. Some older Windows printer drivers, whilst producing very high quality output, can take some time to achieve this! A graphics oriented package such as PALLETMANAGER can on occasion benefit from use of one or both of the options below.

A1.4 The STORE Database.

As described in Section 9 the STORE database holds details of palletisation specifications in a numeric format which can be recalled by the STORE module for re-printing / viewing / re-running. The format used means that to STORE details of (say) 2000 specifications will require in the region of 2Mb of disk space.

A1.5 Merging STORE Databases.

In situations where multiple users work with PALLETMANAGER specifications our recommended procedure is that a single user / machine should be used for STORE database updates, with other users being provided with updated STORE database files as required. Transfer of the 2 or 3 files beginning with 'STORFILE' will achieve this.

It may be possible to merge the STORE databases produced on 2 different machines if the following procedure is followed carefully. For reasons discussed below this is not a recommended route.

Each machine will have in the PALLETMANAGER installation folder either 2 or 3 files named STORFILE - STORFILE.DAT ; STORFILE.IDX and STORFILE.DEL (the final file may not be there). The first stage in merging files is to carefully make security copies of all such files off both machines - ensuring that they are clearly labelled. All files are important but the .DAT files are critical.

With the security copies verified and stored safely choose one machine to work on and carry out the following actions:

Thus at this stage you have the 2 STORFILE files together on the same machine - STORFILE.1 and STORFILE.2

        CD C:\PMNT (Enter)


Possible Problems: 

If the above copy command is not entered exactly as shown then you will receive a 'Direct Access File Mismatch' error message.

Secondly,  the two user databases may contain database records for the same product. User A and User B may have both created (perhaps different) details for one or more products. PALLETMANAGER will report duplicate entries but itself make the choice as to which to retain and which to discard.

A1.6 Style Editing Warning / Extra Information Screens.

Each time a user enters the Style database they are warned that initially the display is set so as to prevent unintentional changes. User feedback suggested that for such a detailed screen this was necessary and a repeated warning on each use would ensure that occasional users were aware of this fact. Some users might find this annoying and thus an option is provided on screen to allow the warning message to be switched off.

To re-instate the warning message the file nowarn30 (with NO filename extension) found in the installation folder should be deleted.

In a similar manner extra information screens are displayed (a) When about to select the Pallet / Style and (b) when displaying ranked results which give the user further information on what they are able to do on the screen which is about to be displayed. To re-instate these warnings (which the user is able to suppress) files nowarn20 and nowarn50 should be deleted.

A1.7 Selecting layouts - slow screen update.

Having obtained the tabular results for a problem and selected a solution to examine further the next stage is to select and display possible pallet layouts. Two dimensional and subsequently three dimensional layouts are shown. On this screen it is possible to cut part of the screen image onto the clipboard. This is done by positioning the mouse at one corner of the area required and then depressing the left mouse button and stretching the rectangular area to enclose the region - then release the mouse button. (A non-trivial sized region must be selected). A screen message indicates that the action has taken place is then displayed. 

One result of the ability to cut and paste on this screen is a degradation in display update speed on this screen (only) on older equipment - this is a function of Windows!!  On most modern equipment this will not prove a problem. However, if this does prove to be a problem, and if you do not wish to cut and paste from this screen, then you can obtain a dramatic speed improvement by creating in the installation folder a file named 'fast0451' (no filename extension). You will not be able to use cut and paste from this screen but graphics speed will be greatly enhanced.

A1.8 On-Top Windows.

On a couple of screens we have utilised menu or button entries which stay on-top of both PALLETMANAGER screens and any other Windows applications. Such menu / buttons are typically used to manipulate layouts or move on when displaying reports on screen. You may find that when mixing the use of PALLETMANAGER with other applications (e.g. when cutting and pasting from PALLETMANAGER to Word) the menu obstructs your use of Word. Please note that the mouse can be used to move such a menu so that it does not obstruct other applications - just a small menu margin will remain in view.

A1.9 Dead Windows Processes.

During extensive testing we have encountered very occasional display problems when running this release on very old Windows 95! equipment. When displaying on-screen the various reports, following completion of display of a report a blank entry sometimes remains on the Windows taskbar. This entry disappears when clicked on. This has no effect on the operation of any software as it is a process which has already closed but the taskbar has not been updated. This problem has never been reported on Windows 98 or later equipment.

A1.10 Alternate STORFILE location.

This feature has been retained in this release but to avoid confusion it is recommended that it not be used. The files created by the Store module may be saved to an alternate folder (rather than the PALLETMANAGER installation folder). To action this:

Note that the pathname (local or network) must NOT contain blanks or 'special' characters. If you have already saved specifications using the STORE modules then file STORFILE.* (2 or 3 files) will be found in the PALLETMANAGER installation folder and should be copied to c:\mystore\ together with PMCONFIG file mentioned above.

Files (or new entries in the existing files) will then be created when required in the new folder name.


A1.11 Moving onto a new machine.

If moving the software between machines then you could re-install the application on the new machine (from disks) and then copy over the user modified files listed at the end of Section 2.. Alternatively copying the whole PALLETMANAGER directory (and any sub-folders) over to the new machine will create a suitable working system. The startup command for PALLETMANAGER is RUNPM.EXE .

A1.12 Webbase and Explorer 6 - 11.

The Webbase module displays palletisation specifications within a standard browser. When using the more recent Internet Explorer browser you may find that one of the new features of this browser results in reports being displayed in the browser window in a 'miniaturized' form (which is unreadable - as shown in the picture below), with a large button being displayed on top of the image 'to display image at normal size'. This problem can easily overcome by making a change to the Explorer configuration. From the Tools menu select Internet Options and the Advanced section. Then ensure that the entry under Multimedia - Enable automatic image resize - is NOT ticked. Then select Apply. This will ensure that Explorer does NOT take over the re-sizing of reports displayed on screen. This is illustrated overleaf.




A1.13 Cylinder Modes.

Normally PALLETMANAGER assumes that items being packed are cubic in form, rather than cylindrical, however as described in Section 10 of the manual you can of course pack cylindrical items in any of the modes Palletise, Collation or Tertiary.

Until recently the selection of the Cylinder option in both Palletise and Collation modes required the user to Select Screen 4 - Advanced Options - during data entry, and make an appropriate entry on that screen. However to further simplify operation the Cylinder Selection Box is now also made available on Screen 3 (where pallet / style details are selected). Thus users may select Cylinder mode without necessarily going via the Advanced Options screen. Users who are accustomed to making the selection on the Advanced Options screen may, of course, continue to do so.

A further optional enhancement has also recently been added to the software is the ability to change the default setting of the Cylinder Option selection boxes on all of the modes Palletise, Collation and Tertiary. Normally, when the dimensions of the product are such that they might indeed be a cylinder (i.e 2 or more dimensions are the same), then the tick box will be available but unticked.

It is possible to change this default setting, though users might well be advised to consider the implications before doing so. If the default setting is changed to 'Cylinder' by default as described below then whenever two dimensions of the input data are identical then a cylinder will be assumed. This will also be true when re-entering any screen on which cylinder mode may be selected, and thus might prove confusing to some users.

To activate Cylinder as default on Palletise, Collation and Tertiary screens you need to create a file cylinder.def in the PALLETMANAGER installation folder. This can be created using any suitable application but it must be stressed that the file extension is .def . The content of the file is irrelevant.

If at a later stage you wish to remove the cylinder default setting then the cylinder.def file should be deleted.

A1.14 Alternate Manual Formats.

The latest CD builds of PALLETMANAGER provide access to the full 160 pages of the manual three different ways.

(1/2) From the Opening Screen of the software users can access a fully searchable manual. This allows users to provide a search term and receive back a relevance list of those manual sections where the best match is obtained. For technical reasons this is provided in 2 different forms - a file pmmanual.exe and an alternate version pmmanalt.exe. The former of these files is the default, but requires a computer on which Internet Explorer 4 (or higher) is installed - but not necessarily as the default browser. The alternate version does not require Internet Explorer to be installed at all but provides somewhat fewer search facilities.

In the unlikely event that users find that the default manual (pmmanual.exe) does not load then simply delete the file pmmanual.exe found in the installation folder  and the default version will automatically be utilised.

(3) Exactly the same material is provided in standard HTML pages. Throughout the software direct links are provided to these pages, with the links taking the user directly to the part of the manual which is relevant at the time that the manual link is selected. 

A1.15 Protecting from Multiple Use.

PALLETMANAGER is a single user application and if used by 2 or more people at the same time file / database corruption will occur. If installed on a network location then a simple mechanism is available to prevent multiple use. If the file PMCONFIG is edited so that Line 2 contains just the text NET then whenever PALLETMANAGER is run a file PMINUSE is created in the installation folder. Any other user who tries to use the application at the same time is prevented from using it and informed in an appropriate way. This PMINUSE file is deleted when the user exits the software.

A1.16 Screen Font Size.

Also note that whilst most font size changes are accommodated by the software, we have come across one instance under Windows 2000 when the very large font size in use caused the operating buttons at the base of screen to 'fall off screen'. Using Start / Settings / Control Panel / Display / Settings / Advanced to select a slightly smaller font will cure any such problem. We have been unable to duplicate this problem on other platforms.

A1.17 Display of Your Logo on Screen / Printer Reports.

The Palletise and Collation reports of PALLETMANAGER have for many years used, in the top left hand corner of the display / printer, a PALLETMANAGER logo. In response to requests from users we have now provided a facility whereby this may be customised so that your company logo may be displayed in the top left hand corner of ALL reports produced by PALLETMANAGER. The procedure to achieve this is described below.

The Logo will be displayed on all newly produced Palletisation and Collation reports, and also on any of these re-printed from the STORE database. It will NOT change the images current held in the Webbase database, but will be included on new reports added to the Webbase.

A company logo in either .BMP or .JPG format is required. This may be in 8 bit or 24 bit BMP format or 24 bit JPG format - a 24bit image is preferable. The area available for display on reports is rectangular, and somewhat wider than it is high. The image provided should ideally have a width of around 300 pixels (for a 'landscape' orientation logo) or a height around 200 pixels (for a 'portrait' orientation logo). An very oversize image may cause program failure. [See further important discussion at the bottom of this section]

Whatever size is provided the aspect ratio (width : height) WILL be retained and the size adjusted (up or down) to fit the area available. A very small file will be 'blown up' in size and thus may appear rather blurred. It is suggested that you / your IT function experiment with various sizes of image. Given the differences that will always exist between on-screen and printer resolution the effect of size changes on both screen and printer operation should be tested.

The file MUST be named PMLOGO.BMP or PMLOGO.JPG. If files of both names exist then the .BMP file will take priority (i.e. be used). If a suitable file is not found then the display / printing will utilise the previous standard PALLETMANAGER logo. You should note that a file named PMMiralis Data.BMP / .JPG may be produced by our software as part of the display/printing process. This name should NOT be used by users. 

It MUST be located in the folder where PALLETMANAGER executable files (such as runpm.exe) are located - the default for this is c:\pmnt. It must NOT be placed in the sub-folder jpgfiles which may exist as this is for holding WEBBASE files only.

Further important technical notes:

1. For technical reasons PALLETMANAGER 'constructs' the image which will be displayed / printed (based on the information in the PMLOGO file) at the point where the menu to select printouts (Palletise / Collation etc) is first displayed - that is on first display of Screen 7 or Screen 9p. If experimenting with different PMLOGO files you therefore need to go 'Back One screen' from the Printing / Display Menu (e.g. go back to Screen 6) and then forward again to the Menu screen in order to see the effect of a logo file change.

2. The image sizes suggested above will on most devices produce a reasonably good image on both printer and on screen. Printers will normally have a higher resolution and thus a logo of (say) 500 pixels wide might be used, but this would display on screen as a rather poorer image. Those using the Webbase database should also test the output quality of images on the Webbase .JPG files.

3. Note that if both PMLOGO.BMP and .JPG exist then the .BMP image will be used.

4. We have on one occasion (on one of our own machines) under Windows Vista encountered a problem when using a logo file, the symptoms of which were a program failure when printing with a 'Blue Screen of Death', this being a reboot of the machine when print was initiated. The solution to what we believe is a Windows bug was to completely delete the printer causing the problem and then re-install it using the latest printer drivers. Note that just doing a printer update using Windows update did not solve the problem. Extensive testing at the time on other Windows Vista / Windows 7 machines did not see the problem occur. We have sometimes seen this problem occur when using 3rd party PDF printer drivers.

A1.18 Wide Screen Displays / Font Size.

Wide screen displays are becoming increasingly popular and, depending upon the operating system in use, users may well wish to use the right hand side of the display to display, at all times, useful tools (such as a clock!).

To ensure that the software display does not take over the full screen when it is being used on wide screen displays the window generated on such screens is automatically reduced so that it initially occupies around 70% of the screen (depending upon screen ratio), with the window being positioned to the left top of the screen. The window can be moved (using the mouse), or expanded to full screen (by clicking on the top title bar of the window). However the automatic re-size will ONLY apply when the graphics resolution used by the graphics adaptor differs from the standard width / height ratio of 'normal' screens - that is 1.33 or 1.25. Thus re-sizing would apply, for example, when using a graphics resolution of 1680*1050 - a 1.6 ratio.

The vast majority of users will normally have set a standard font size (of 96dpi) and the automatic reduction in the screen width utilised as described above will NOT result in information being lost off the display area. However, if using a larger font size (e.g. 120dpi or as sometimes described a 125% font size), then information would be lost. In such instances we would strongly recommend users set the software to utilise the full area of the screen as described below, or alternatively set a standard (96dpi) font size.

If users would like to software to utilise the full area of the screen at all times then it is possible to configure this to happen as described below.

To set the software so that it always uses the full screen on wide screen displays:

On the most recent system builds use the ScreenSize button displayed near the bottom of those on the Opening Screen (Screen 0) of the software OR use the manual procedure below:

Create in the application installation folder a file named USEFULLS - without a file extension - this could be done using an application such as notepad / wordpad etc. The content of the file does NOT matter, the fact that the file exists is the only requirement to give a full screen display on a wide screen monitor.

Files created with most such applications will NOT immediately have the correct name as the application will add a file extension to the filename (e.g. USEFULLS.TXT, USEFULLS.DOC etc). However an additional complication is that depending upon the machine configuration this extension may not be displayed in the file list. To ensure the file created has NO file extension at all it is suggested that having created the file using the procedure above you highlight the file name in Windows Explorer, then right click the mouse and select Rename and then replace the whole of the displayed name by (just) USEFULLS 


A1.19 Alternate Palletisation Report Format and the new Ti/High report.

In response to user feedback we now offer an alternate Palletisation Report Format. This contains similar information to that of our 'historical' report but uses a different layout.

The new report can be selected using a tick box on the screen where Special Notes are entered and reports selected for Screen / Printer / Webbase output. By default the 'historical' report format is used as default, with the new format being produced when the appropriate tick box entry is made. If a user requires that the new format be used as the default then a file named altpalrp (no filename extension) should be created in the PALLETMANAGER install folder. This will then automatically enter a tick into the appropriate tick-box - but the user can always de-select it.

The newer Ti-High report (which is essentially a combination of the Palletise and Collation reports), also supports this twin format setup and the alternate format is achieved in exactly the same manner.

A1.20 Mini Collation Picture and Splash Screens.

We have recently added to Collation mode the automatic display in a small window of the collation arrangement as an additional window as users highlight entries on Screen 5:

As the user moves to highlight another entry (say entry Ref 3), the picture for Ref No: 2 will disappear and that for Reference 3 will replace it.

The mechanism used to display and then 'kill' this picture uses the same standard Windows command as is used to display Miralis Data splash screens which appear for a short while whilst calculations are taking place. This process is unchanged from releases over the past 5 years.

We are aware of one user of a networked system where the commands from PALLETMANAGER to 'kill' the splash screens automatically once they have completed their function is not obeyed. This is a function of the failure to provide the user (in a networked environment) with standard rights to start and stop their own applications. In this release the splash screens and the above Mini Collation windows can be terminated by the user using the standard Close button at the top right of the window. Ideally users should be given standard Windows user rights so that PALLETMANAGER can close these screens as required. A 'quick fix' would be to delete (after installation) the two splash screens from the application folder (pmbusy.exe and pmbusy1.exe). The program which produces the Mini-Collation pictures (pmbusy650.exe) could also be deleted but this would remove what we feel to be a very useful addition to the functions in Collation mode.


Once again we wish you will in using this version of PALLETMANAGER and welcome feedback from both technical support staff and users on ways in which we could improve the software and documentation.



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