MTDATA – Phase Diagram Software from the National Physical Laboratory







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The UTILITY module is used to perform a variety of database management tasks. These include creating new databases, loading data into new or existing databases, modifying the titles or passwords of existing databases and listing the contents of existing databases. In this context an "existing" database is one present on the list of those available for use (or active) during the current MTDATA session. This list can be examined from within the UTILITY module.

When databases are first created they are empty. They may either be permanent, in which case they should be added to the database configuration list for use in future MTDATA sessions, or temporary in which case updating the configuration list is probably not necessary. The database configuration list can be updated from within the UTILITY module.

Data must be loaded in to a new database from a source file, called an MTDATA data loading file. (This may have been prepared in advance either by means of a text editor or by obtaining a full database contents listing from within the UTILITY module.) The same sort of data loading file and loading procedure is used to update a database either by adding new data items or modifying those already present. If data for the same species or interaction are found in the data loading file as in the target database the user will be asked to decide between three courses of action. These are to ignore the new data, to append it to the database under a new phase or isomer label, or to overwrite the existing database entry. The decision may be made interactively as each duplicate data item is encountered or globally at the start of the loading procedure. It is strongly recommended that data loading files are maintained independently of individual databases. The format of the database loading file is described here.

Databases may also be given passwords and/or titles. This may be done either on creation or during a subsequent UTILITY session. To list the numerical data from a password protected database the appropriate password must be supplied. This is also the case if the user wishes to change the password or title of a protected database or load data into a protected database.

Two forms of database listing are available, either a full data listing or just the species and interaction names. These can either be directed to the screen or to a chosen output file. Each type of listing is followed by a summary of the overall number of unaries, binary interactions and ternary interactions found.

The UTILITY module also allows the user to obtain information about MTDATA's "limits" (that is to say the maximum numbers of components, species and phases for which the current version is configured) and to plot diagrams from pre prepared MTDATA metafiles. These files contain simple graphics instructions and are usually obtained, at least initially, by capturing a diagram plotted from within another MTDATA module such as MULTIPHASE or TERNARY. The metafile can then be edited using a text editor to change labels, line styles, axis annotation and diagram size as required.

Graphical output is sent both to the terminal or computer screen and to a file so that the contents can be copied to a local plotter, either from within the program or by using operating system commands.

Brief summary of commands

CREATE_DATABASE allows the user to create a new (empty) database which may be added to the list in the MTDATA database configuration file and so made available for use (or active) in future MTDATA sessions. The database may be assigned a password and/or given a title. Files of a specific size may be reserved for the database by providing, on creation, a estimate of the maximum number of datasets to be held.

LIST_DATABASE lists out the contents of a specified currently active database either to the screen or a chosen output file. A full data listing or just a summary of species and interaction names may be requested. The correct password must be given in order to obtain a full data listing from a password protected database.

LOAD_DATABASE is used to load data into a currently active database from an MTDATA data loading file (source file). The format of the database loading file is described here. The user can specify one of three courses of action to be taken if data already exist in the database for a particular species or interaction found in the loading file. The new data can be ignored, appended to the database under a new phase or isomer name or used to overwrite the old data. Data cannot be loaded into a password protected database unless the correct password is given.

MODIFY_DATABASE allows the user to change the password and/or title of a currently active database. The correct old password must be given for a password protected database.

STATISTICS is used to obtain, on the screen, a list of the databases active during the current MTDATA session along with a short status report on each. This status report includes the title of each database and information on the level of protection to which it is subject.

LIMITS allows the user to obtain, on the screen, a list of the maximum numbers of components, phases and species for which the current version of MTDATA has been configured. The maximum number of abscissa points in MULTIPHASE plots is also shown.

PLOT allows the user to plot out a diagram from a previously created MTDATA metafile.

RETURN takes the user out of ACCESS back to the module level.

<"Macro name"> runs a macro taken from a file. The name of the file should be entered in quotes. Commands can also be passed through to the operating system by prefixing them with a $ (dollar sign). The dollar sign and operating system command should be entered within quotes.

Further Information

A gentle introduction gentle introduction to using the options available in UTILITY contains annotated examples, each directed towards achieving a particular outcome, showing typical combination of commands which would be necessary to achieve that end.

A simple summary of the commands available can also be used as an index to obtain more detailed help about each command.

The format of the database loading file.


Updated 23 June 2010