Trainz/Content Manager

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Fundamentals for Trainz Trainees

Introductory Trainz — written for those new to Trainz
TOC | BeginningsFun | AM&C | Creation | InBook Refs ORP Refs:  • Index • Containers • Kinds • Tags | Appendixes  • Vers
 Mouse use
Content Manager in it's early 'CMP' incarnation.
File:Category-era and Category-region in Trainz's CM are separate dropdown entries for sorting and selecting appropriate mixes of criteria when narrowing down content numbers.
A Category in Trainz's CM are an aid to sorting and selecting appropriate content varieties which are classified into groups by N3V loosely based on category-class and Kinds.
p={{TRS-X|Trainz modules}}|h={{TRS-X|Trainz modules}}|n={{TRS-X|Content Manager|sp=CM Basics}}

Introduction To CM/CMP[edit]

Main coverage: Content Manager Plus,   AM&C/Content Manager
Background to the Content Manager and the DLS

Predecessors to CM or CMP were a stand alone utilities from Trainz 1.0 through TRS2004-SP4 (also named ContentManager.exe,. hence the 'Plus' of TRS2006's CMP) with which users could install new modeling assets. There weren't many options but installing assets. Other utilities performed some of the tasks (e.g. uploading) but Data Management was mainly manual by moving folders about.   In essence the early simple ContentManager.exe programs did some simple file management and unpacked cdp files and tucked their contents away in a scheme using open folders, enumerated folder locations, and a data system that had no real data base to it. They could also create cdp files, allowing the early growing Trainz community to feast on shared creations. Eventually, the early Download Station was hosted by Auran and users could browse without much search capability much as one can on today's less sophisticated 3rd party Trainz fan-sites. Most of these are operated by an individual or a small group of Content Creators.   Prior to TRS2004, the cloud services we know as the DLS was more list presenting access to a disorganized collection of zip and cdp files than an organized database with a built in search engine, FTP manager. It was a central repository but a chaotic one, and the chaos was converted into today's order when DLS was established during UTC's hey days (v1.5), a little before the time TRS2004 (v2.0) came about.  

The need for CMP[edit]

The early local Trainz install's database was more organized as groups of open files as well, and data corruption was thus more likely until TRS2004 evolved a better file structure and compressed data formats, which was best exploited with the advent of TRS2006 and it's Content Manager Plus became a data base manager and search & access tool. With a database manager on the servers to handshake with on the DLS end, the more sophisticated user-end software became feasible and it arrived with trainz-build v2.5 (TRS2006 Content Manager—then retitled as Content Manager Plus (or CMP).  

The powers of CMP[edit]

CMP had capabilities unknown in the earlier Trainz which relied on a primitive region and type tags classification system for it's limited capabilities of asset grouping and searching. CMP took on a whole host of additional capabilities formerly performed by separate *.exe utility programs, including those of 3rd party providers, and incorporated a ton of new powerful search, classification, and asset management features such as:

  1. the ability to directly communicate with the Download Station (DLS) during searching
  2. could import content from installation to installation by direct file importing/parsing
  3. or via cdp importation,
  4. export a route or asset or
  5. upload it to share with others on the DLS
  6. manage asset editing
  7. manage and use archives and archiving
  8. search by combining criteria and classification
and generally became the center-point for asset operations not involving actually building a route.
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Today's TS12 CM-3.7 (often still referred to as CMP on the forums) has the same functions (with some extensions), much the same look and feel, and in operations, has varied little save for searching enhancements from the TRS2006 era CMPs. The content manager in the forthcoming Trainz: A New Era (TANE) will be a very different user interface than the one described here with the fixed left pane and will have an ability to locate windows, each of which may then spawn an alternative sub-search and display 'main view'.


Launching CM/CMP[edit]

CM/CMP (Content Manager Plus) is accessible via the Trainz launcher screen or by directly launching the ContentManager.exe file from the Trainz installation's root directory \bin sub-folder. Many users with multiple Trainz installations will bundle shortcuts to launch the CM or Trainz launcher programs from a common Trainz folder. CM's primary purpose is to manage the data flow to and from the DLS and manage the local assets on your hard drive (located in your ..\UserData folder) and the subfolders therein (such as the \local, \settings, \screenshots, \editing folders) as well as the Trainz release's special data base of built-in items. (See JA files and Libraries)

Mainly Trainzer's use it to communicate and manage downloading from the DLS, and to select and filter assets for surveyor. TS2009 introduced enhanced filtering (selectable savable criteria) so power users will often define a search criteria, called a search filter, save that and then use that to trim down the list of assets one must look through to find a desired asset when route building.

CM/CMP has a sophisticated search facility and automatically identifies and downloads dependencies associated with each asset. CM/CMP is closely integrated to CCP and is also used to open assets for editing and committing them for use in Trainz. In TRS2006 and above, new assets and asset clones (copies with new kuids) are created via CM/CMP, though a route or session may be cloned using a Save As option in Surveyor.

P train grey.png
The original 'Content Manager Plus' precursor page to this page was overhauled in March 2014, and the 'Blog' section within it is so charmingly written and mostly still applicable, (from an experiential point of view, it gives the flavor of using the CMs your first few time really well--provided sounds are enabled!) It was worth retaining for new users, so take time to read it. After wrestling with CM a month or so, re-read it and laugh at what you missed the first time. Despite the improvements, the operations are so very similar it's worth taking the 'grin-making' time after you've acquired some CM operations experience.

Getting around in CM[edit]

CMP through CM-3.7 looks much like a spreadsheet with relocatable columns (from CM-2.0 of TS2009) meaning columns selected for viewing in the 'main view' (the right hand part of the screen) using ALT+V can later be slide left or right and rearranged to suit the user preferences, or the type of task you might be about. For example, one day you might want to locate all the assets that were installed with the download of XYZ route and sessions, so want to see install date... an otherwise uninformative data column. Some days you want modification date, and on others perhaps, the regions, era or the trainz-build values are your primary sorting and searching interests. The check box in the ALT+V menu allow hiding columns or turning their display on, whilst dragging them allows you to rearrange them left to right.

title bar notations

The notations CM-X.Y appears in the CM/CMP title bar after TC3 and after TS2009-SP3 the X.Y (initially just CM-2.0) was incremented with each code build and so displayed as a suffix to give a visual reminder of the trainz-build tag or 'version' of the Trainz software. It now signifies the trainz-build code an asset created or updated using Content Creator Plus (CCP) editing will be given.

Editing modes

CM supports asset editing in two forms: CCP, which is a table-like fill in the blanks rigid form for getting the proper parts assigned to a new asset, or by free form editing using Windows utilities. For asset repairs, virtually everyone avoids CCP and uses a Windows Explorer editing folder with direct access to the files making up the asset. This folder and files can be opened in several ways:

  1. Hotkeys SHFT+CTRL+E directly opens a Windows Explorer folder with no processing, and it pops up immediately on top of other screen windows.
  2. RMBH+drag+Open With accesses one of the PEVtools or other batch utility that has been installed in the \bin\...\Tools sub-folder. Thusly, for example, if a repair requires accessing textures (say in the error message you see an alphamask and it's base texture don't match in size, so one needs re-sized) one can open the asset with PEV's images2TGA utility and be ready to fix the problem immediately. In this case the window will often be behind or other another Windows application window depending upon your video set up and the biases built-in to Windows. If running a dual or three monitor system, often these can be biased to open in the other screen(s) from CM, so will open where it can be seen immediately.

Left hand panes[edit]

P train grey.png
In truth, the left hand panes are an overcrowded mess cramped for space since TRS2006 was written long enough ago (2004-2005) that dual and triple head systems were very rare, and the arrangement made sense for single monitor systems. The Windows software interface in TANE has an entirely different look, see, and feel with floating and resizable windows but can get a bit messy in a different way; while still following the spirit of the original TRS2006 Content Manager Plus and those CM versions since.


Image of TS12's left hand control windows or panes (most closed).
1. The Down Load Helper (DLH) opens as the top Pane, here showing one item needing updated. (Note the icon)
2. the Search window opens next down, and
3. the details pane third shows a thumbnail of the asset and part of it's description tag's data field information.
4. Whereas, each when minimized looks like the other three 'collapsed' tool bars on the bottom, saving for their labels.

As can be seen in the image below and left, each left hand pane has a little click icon to open it or close it, and in normal operations, one will be the DLH (Download Helper) pane, another the Asset Details pane, and as needed, the Search pane, or other combinations based on what you are doing that give you the desired flexibility. Each can be closed when set up and still have effect, or the whole set of panes can be toggled open or closed with commensurate widening or narrowing by alternate presses of the Tab key. Other panes shown are for uploading, archiving, and so forth, but like the DLH pane, these are used primarily by dragging and dropping from the Main View into the pane, so must be open to be in actual use. Play a bit and read the manual, whether printed or in pdf format, then re-read it. Wait a month and read it again. Each time will give you the power of additional knowledge and insights as to the capabilities shedding further light on what we present here.  

As can be seen in the images above, Trainz has various RMBH drop down menus, as with the one shown here from right clicking on an asset in the 'Main View'. This particular image doesn't show you the currently selected line which like the currently selected asset would be highlighted in blue as I dragged down the menu. If you fixing a batch of new faulty assets, as in this view, the most common use is the line saying 'open with' which allows you to use external tools, such as PEVtools to begin preparing an asset for examination and tweaking—normally all that is needed to make an asset workable. Another commonly used RMBH+drag command is show asset versions, which allows you to compare older and newer assets, and those which may have been obsoleted by an entirely different kuid series, perhaps by a different author enirely! Similarly, Show dependencies and show Config.txt files are both workhorse selections.

Download Helper (DLH)[edit]

Buttons are straight forward, Start, Clear, Stop. With nothing in the pane, it's already cleared. To pick something for download, one sets up a search criteria (below) then clicks on one or more assets to select them (Highlighted, colors of CM and highlighting are as you set them in your Windows theme) then drag them into the DLH pane. As you add more you'll likely note some activity going on, part of which is CM and the DLS are filling in dependencies—sub-assets the asset you selected depend upon as parts, for example the bogeys, wheels, or couplings of that railcar type, or textures, etc. which are parts of the assets you selected. As you add more by drag and drop, the list will grow a scroll bar and grow longer as dependencies are identified and added.

You should always give the DLH some time to settle before hitting Start, but once it's cranked the top of your list for a couple of minutes, these days hitting start seems risk free, unlike some of the instabilities CMP used to exhibit as are alluded to in the CMP article. CM-2.0 may suffer some of he same issues, but CM-3.3 and after offload much of the data management to TADdaemon.exe which gates data to and from the DLS whilst TrainzUtil.exe manages adds, extractions, and so forth to the database proper; both being invisible in the background save to power users.

Search Pane[edit]

Perhaps even more than the DLH the Search Pane will likely receive your most frequent attentions.

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<zzz!-- debugging...

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