Here at MasterSeries HQ we're tying up loose ends and preparing for the release of MasterSeries 2018. Unlike previous releases, which have generally seen features and improvements to the engineering capabilities of the software, this release focuses on improving the user interface.
Due to number of applications available within the MasterSeries ecosystem, we decided to concentrate on some of our most flexible, and central modules - MasterFrame, MasterPort, and FlatSlab.
Main Changes - The Menu
When you start up MasterFrame, you'll most likely be immediately struck by the menu. Gone are the tool strips and their dated icons. They've been replaced with a modern menu, with new icons and drop downs that should make accessing and editing the visible state of your models much easier.
MasterFrame Menu in MasterSeries 2018
We've attempted to create a much more understandable menu by grouping settings into categories, with titles displaying alongside the buttons (provided you have enough screen width). As you resize the application, the menu will adjust to accommodate the new width.
There are 3 sizes of buttons: normal, medium, and small. When you resize your application, it will attempt to display as many buttons as possible in their normal size, with the remainder opting for the medium setting. What's the difference between normal and medium size settings? Medium buttons don't contain any descriptive text, as depicted in the image below.
Normal and Medium Menu Buttons
When you go beyond the minimum size of the menu with medium-sized buttons, it will immediately switch to its most compact form (as opposed to attempting to mediate between small and medium buttons).
The Menu in its Minimized State
The new menu provides you with better access to more visibility settings than the previous menu. It's also just a whole lot nicer in general.
Main Changes - The Graphics
With MasterSeries 2018, we're releasing a massive graphics overhaul that's been in development for over 2 years. When it comes to the graphics, perhaps you'll first notice the navigation cube and home button found at the top-left hand corner. However, the graphics update goes much further than this.
The old graphics engine has been surgically removed from MasterSeries and replaced with the newer, faster and altogether better, DirectX 11. The result of our efforts is clear from the outset -- models now render much more crisply, and you'll find the responsiveness of the graphics to be vastly improved as you navigate and interact with your frame. The visual improvement is summed up in the picture below, which shows the new vs the old graphics.
New VS Old Graphics
It's not just the rendering of members that's been improved. Every aspect of a model in MasterFrame, MasterPort, and FlatSlab has been updated, from the depiction of area and wind loads, to the display of finite element surfaces, their contours, and much more.
A Frame in MasterSeries 2018 with Area Loading
Main Changes - Interfaces
The majority of interfaces in MasterFrame, and MasterPort have been revised. These updates were carried out to declutter and simplify the process of carrying out an action (note that none of the underlying functionality has changed). The aim here was to make it easier for people to find what they're looking for, with emphasis being placed on providing more descriptive info in the interfaces.
In some places, the new layouts required "expanding panels". The panels will expand and collapse at the click of a button to hide or show their content. This allows you to minimize unnecessary items, save vertical space, and focus on the task as hand.
Expand Panels in the Levels and Loading Interface
Main Changes - Curved Members
Facilities for the drawing and design of curved members will be introduced with this release. You've always been able to draw and design curved members as a series of faceted members, but MasterSeries 2018 will graphically represent the curved member as a single member, and the design will be carried out to SCI P281.
Main Changes - Composite Printing
Previously, in composite design you were able to print either a single brief, or all briefs. For MasterSeries 2018 the composite design package will take advantage of some new technology that was introduced with the Report Generator in 2017. You'll now be able to select and filter which briefs to print in a similar fashion to the steel design.
MasterSeries 2018 Preview Webinar [Video]
For an overview of the MasterSeries 2018 developments, check out our preview webinar on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/264581696
We're hoping to roll out the 2018 version in mid to late May (about 2 - 3 weeks from the posting of the blog).
Your feedback - both in the form of comments and criticism - is important to us. It shapes future development of MasterSeries. So, if you have any thoughts for us, please let us know by emailing me directly at: niall(at)masterseries.com
Posted by: Niall Burke, Software Developer