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
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 Glossary
 HKeys-CM
 HKeys-DVR
 HKeys-SUR
 HKeys-WIN
 Mouse use
 Notations
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 'Content Manager' which relied on a primitive region and type tags classification system for it's limited capabilities of asset grouping and searching. The earlier module was mostly a listing/cataloging utility allowing a user to examine her own inventory of assets, with no information from the DLS.

  • CMP took on a whole host of additional capabilities formerly performed by several 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.
P train grey.png
TS09's CM-2.0-TS12 CM-3.7's (All often still referred to as CMP on the forums) have the same functions (with some extensions), and much the same look and feel, as well as their operations—have varied little save for important expanded searching enhancements from the TRS2006 era CMPs, and for the addition of a column identifying the trainz-build (aka 'version') value of an asset.
  • The content manager in Trainz: A New Era (TANE) is (finally) a different 'Windowed' user interface with multiple 'main view report views' than the historic CM's described and depicted here with their 'fixed left panes' and TANE's has an ability to locate it's windows on any monitor (untied to the control panes), and each of which may then spawn an alternative sub-search and display another 'main view'.
Right-pointing hand in green octagon.svg
Editor's note: The TANE CM, as of the May 15th 2015 launch of the TANE 'Release Version', is still a work in progress in September—with N3V and the developer's user group refining it's user interface throughout the summer. It's firm or final interface and hotkeys, et. al. is expected to arrive with Trainz:A New Era's first Service Pack[1]

 

Launching CM/CMP[edit]

CM/CMP (Content Manager Plus) is accessible via the Trainz Launcher screens or by directly launching the ContentManager.exe file from the Trainz installation's root directory \bin sub-folder (recommended, or by shortcut thereto). 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 sub-folders 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 were part of the T'06 CMP, but the way they could be combined was limited. In T'09, the new power was in the addition of new search-refining Boolean logic operators: OR, AND NOT, and AND [the latter of which is somewhat redundant in most uses[note 1]]) 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]

commons:File:Trainz CM Tricks-01 in TS10 (w-small icons) Using an ORed KUID list to view fixed asset and then to see certain dependencies not in first KUID group.png
Using an ORed KUID list to view fixed asset - Some faults won't show as fixed, until the asset is recommitted. See the description on this image when blown up.

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.

 

For the moment, notice the default tabs along CM's top of the main view each load a search criteria in the Search pane when pressed; and also that by using Tab ↹ (Toggles) one can hide or open the left panes. The How-To Search efficiently in CM

tutorial & reference will allow us to cover tips and tricks in depth outside this survey topic. (You didn't want to read that here, now anyway, did you?)
Image of TS12's left hand tools windows or control panes (most closed, with little change in appearance since TR'6).
1. The Down Load Helper (DLH pane) opens as the top Pane, here showing one item needing updated. (Note the icon)
2. the Search pane window opens next down (partially obscured off-pane), and
3. the third down, Details pane shows a thumbnail of the asset and part of it's description tag's data field information. Other information is obscured off-pane.
4. Whereas, each when minimized looks like the other three 'collapsed' pane 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 (uploads, archive, and pick list) 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]

You should always give the DLH some 'few minutes' of 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. True, CM-2.0 may suffer some of he same issues, but CM-3.3 and after offload much of the data management to a better implementation of 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. The TS12 TADdaemon is much improved over that of TS09 & TS10s shared technology.

To pick something for download, one sets up a search criteria (see image left) 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.

Search pane[edit]

Buttons are straight forward, Start, Clear, Stop, and +/- to add/delete a new 'filter-line' (API data window). With nothing in the pane, it's already cleared.  

Example of DLS 'Unexpected Consequences'
One problem with DLS Route downloads:
Grabbing a Route or Session can bring
in 'bunches of tonnes' of dependencies!
(And their faults, if they use an old kuid!)[note 2]
These six assets were in the DLH
  Hawes Junction     kuid2:69379:100411:1>
  School 1942     kuid2:1942:39108:1>
  Water Tower 2     kuid2:1942:28056:1>
  Yard Office 1942     kuid2:1942:28045:1>
  Town Terrace 6 far     kuid2:1942:25027:1>
  Town Terrace 6     kuid2:1942:25022:1>
&nbsp
This list of 36 was the final download
  Sign8BRLM     kuid2:84912:28110:1>
  Sign12BRLM     kuid2:84912:28108:1>
  Hawes Junction     kuid2:69379:100411:1>
  Cattle     kuid2:60850:99011:3>
  Livestock     kuid2:60850:99010:2>
  ACSlib     kuid2:60850:89100:9>
  MaxPermittedSpeed     kuid2:60850:89000:5>
  AISpeedControlIcon     kuid:60850:88000>
  waterfall sample     kuid2:47439:25650:1>
  BR cattle wagon texture group     kuid2:44090:57109:41>
  LNER Gresley A3 4-6-2 engine spec     kuid2:44090:51015:5>
  wheelset 3 hole wagon     kuid2:44090:50106:43>
  Gresley Corridor Tender BR Bogey     kuid2:44090:50019:8>
  BR 8T Cattle Wagon     kuid2:44090:15070:41>
  BR 8T Cattle Wagon     kuid2:44090:15070:7>
  Gresley Corridor Tender BR Green     kuid2:44090:15061:6>
  Gresley A3 BR Green Loco     kuid2:44090:1027:9>
  Vac cylinder     kuid2:44090:622:42>
  Roof for 18ft vans     kuid2:44090:617:42>
  RCH Standard axlebox     kuid2:44090:612:42>
  W iron BR plate type     kuid2:44090:606:42>
  RCH Standard buffer length 2ft     kuid2:44090:602:43>
  hump backed bridge stone     kuid2:35412:38202:1>
  LMS Distant Tall Semaphore     kuid2:4468:24201:1>
  LMS Home Tall Semaphore     kuid2:4468:24101:1>
  High vac     kuid2:2512:14:1>
  School 1942     kuid2:1942:39108:1>
  Water Tower 2     kuid2:1942:28056:1>
  Yard Office 1942     kuid2:1942:28045:1>
  Farm Building 2     kuid2:1942:26039:1>
  Shop Chipping Campden     kuid2:1942:26036:1>
  Town House 8     kuid2:1942:25032:1>
  Town Terrace 6 far     kuid2:1942:25027:1>
  Town Terrace 6     kuid2:1942:25022:1>
  Signal Shunt Sem LMS(R)     kuid:1942:24137>
  Signal Shunt Sem LMS     kuid:1942:24132>

Perils of Downloading[edit]

New Trainzer's need be aware of the perils of downloading too much too soon. There is a smart way to proceed, and ones less effective. The Table at right illustrates this point. Six assets were listed as downloads in the DLH pane. When the dependencies were added by CM, the download was 36! A sixfold increase, and this is a mild example. Downloading a session will bring in a route, the route (and since Layers were introduced in TS10) and sessions might both have several thousand or several hundred asset dependencies respectively.  

Search Pane[edit]

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

Notes, Footnotes & References[edit]

Config.txt files are endemic and ever present in Trainz assets, for no asset can be defined without this type of Computer Science container. The keyword-value_of_key pairing must always be kept in mind in editing or creating Trainz content. The TrainzBaseSpec contains values and containers which are most common in asset defining config.txt files.  

Notes

  1. AND Boolean Operator: Is rarely needed in simple filters, for two filter entry windows entered (stacked) one-after-another automatically combine in a Boolean AND. Hence, It's usefulness comes mostly in filter formations using the AND NOT operator first with a conditional linked to a second or third criteria separated by an OR operator.
  2. On Download unexpected consequences:
    In my experience, Surveyor and CM don't update a Session or Route kuid-table (dependencies) when saving an asset, if a newer Kuid2 or Obsolete-table entry replaces it. That action seems to happen only at load time. Hence, even an updated 'face-lifted' route may call for older KUIDs... and if your system doesn't have the latest update, the old one's come down as well.
    This necessitates a version check of each missing dependency and a subsequent download. A 'How-To' process we'll cover elsewhere in depth.

 

Footnotes

  1. TANE CM/SP1-Situation normal: Announced in the planning by Tony Hilliam in early August, without any expected publication date/deadline.

 

References


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<zzz!-- debugging...

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--xxx>

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