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Quick Start Guide

This guide is based on the evaluation version of MCT that includes sample user objects, data, and views. If you are using the full MCT platform and creating your own user objects, your mileage will—and should—vary.

The evaluation version does not persist created objects, formatting, or displays.
Your changes will be lost when you close MCT.

What is MCT?

MCT is a user-object oriented system. With MCT, you will use a single interface to work with objects that correspond to the things you want to view and manipulate. Each representation of a user object is called a manifestation of that object. The object’s core properties are independent of any particular manifestation. All user objects can interact with all other objects in consistent, predictable ways.

User objects provided in the evaluation version include telemetry elements with simulated data feeds, a collection containing these objects, and a simple composition in a canvas view.

  • You can display the same data from MCT objects in different views:
MCT object views
  • You can combine objects into collections in a canvas view to create custom displays:
MCT composition

  • You can also share objects you have created with other MCT users:

MCT remains running as long as at least one MCT window is open. When you close that window, an alert box will ask you to confirm the shutdown.

MCT shutdown

The User Environment

The first thing you will see when you start MCT is your User Environment, opened in its own window. The User Environment consists of a List panel and an Inspector panel, and contains every other MCT object available to you. Objects you can modify will appear in bold.

The List Panel

User Environment List panel

User Environment drop boxes

The evaluation version will not let you log on as another user, but you can see how sharing works by dragging and dropping objects into your own drop box.

The Inspector Panel

Select any object to get more information about it or see a different view in the inspector panel.
Buttons at the top of the inspector panel let you switch between all views available for that object.

User Environment Inspector panel

Searching for Objects

You can search for any MCT objects by their base displayed name.
Check Created by Me to limit your search to objects that you have created.

searching for objects

An asterisk stands for any number of consecutive characters.
You can use multiple asterisks in the same search string.

search results

Search results are limited to 100 entries. If you want to see objects that are not among those first 100 results, you must narrow the scope of your search.

working with search results
  • You can select and inspect any object listed in the search results, and work with it from the Inspector panel.
  • You can open or drag a search result as you would any other user object.

MCT Menus

Each MCT window has a standard menu bar. In addition, you can access contextual menus from many places in the MCT environment.

Window Menus

MCT’s menu bar presents only the menus and menu items that apply to the particular user objects manifested in the window. As you add objects to or remove objects from windows, you may notice that the menu options for that window change. If an item is grayed out, it is not currently available.

The object widget on the left of the menu bar is a “handle” for the entire object. Going from left to right across the menu bar, the scope of the menu narrows.

MCT menu bar

This menu
This menu: The whole user object manifesting as this window. Selecting Open This Object will open the same object in a new window. If one or more additional monitors are connected, you will also see the option Open in Another Monitor in this menu and in the Objects menu.

Objects menu
Objects menu: Whole objects whose manifestations are contained in this window. When an object is selected, any actions not currently permitted for that object will be grayed out. Different options may be available for different selected objects or manifestations. Additional formatting options are available for objects selected from the canvas panel.

View menu
View menu: The appearance of the window itself, and the options available for the presentation of data in the window. The View menu includes controls to show or hide control areas, and a selection of the window’s views. It also includes formatting options for the canvas panel, if applicable.

Windows menu
Windows menu: All currently open MCT windows. If you select one of them, that window will become the active window. When only one MCT window is open, the option to close all other windows will be dimmed.

Conveniences menu
Conveniences menu: You can open the User Environment or My Sandbox from the Conveniences menu of any MCT window. If either the User Environment or My Sandbox is already open, MCT will open another manifestation in a new window.

Help menu
Help menu: Links to general MCT information, and a toggle to turn a memory usage display on or off. The MCT memory meter shows the used percentage of memory that has been preallocated for MCT.

Object Contextual Menus

Right-click a list or canvas object for a contextual menu containing all actions possible for that object’s particular manifestation in the current context.

Views of Telemetry Elements

The MCT platform currently provides four views of telemetry elements: Alpha, Plot, Graphical, and Info. Collections also have a Canvas view, but not a Graphical view.

Alphanumeric (alpha) view displays the operations name of the telemetry element and its current value and status, which are updated continuously from the data feed. The Alpha view of a collection is displayed as a table

Plot view is a graphical presentation of plottable values of telemetry elements or collections.

plot view    plot collection view
Nested plot collections are displayed as stacked plots with a common time axis.
2d stacked plot display
Currently, only the first 30 members of a collection are plotted.

Graphical view displays the data value or the value of a data evaluator graphically.

graphical view
Info view is a list representation of properties of the user object.

info view

An Evaluator view is also available for MCT objects with associated enumerators or multis that evaluate the data output. The Evaluator view displays the enumerator, its possible outputs, and the current value and result.

Creating MCT Objects

If you right-click on a collection object, the contextual menu will include a Create… action, which allows you to create a generic example component, an example telemetry component, a collection, and several other types of MCT objects.

In the evaluation version, any objects or compositions that you create will be lost when you close MCT.

create menu

The newly created objects will be created inside the selected collection. You can add them to other collections after they have been created.

created objects
  • Example telemetry objects are objects with a simulated data feed from a sine wave generator. In real-life MCT applications, telemetry objects would be receiving the actual data appropriate to your operational requirements. (The example component menu item creates a generic object that is not especially interesting for evaluating MCT.)
  • Evaluators generate expressions based on evaluation of the data received. If you inspect the evaluator object or open it into its own window, an Expressions view will be available where you can add or delete expressions and manage the evaluator’s associations with telemetry elements.
  • Multis or comps are evaluators that can generate expressions based on rules applied to more than one telemetry object.
  • Limit lines are static objects used in plots to display a constant reference value.
  • MCT graphic objects are static images that you can use in your compositions. When you create a graphic object, you will be prompted for the path to the image file you wish to use.
create graphic

The images themselves are not stored in the MCT database, so you must use files that will be available to MCT at runtime. MCT can display SVG files, plus whatever other formats are supported by the local Java installation. PNG and JPG seem to work on all platforms.

Working with Objects

All user objects share these basic features:
  • Every object is selectable.
  • Every object is inspectable in views that are relevant to the object.
  • Every object can be opened into a new window that offers the same views available in the inspector.

Right-click an object to bring up a contextual menu of available options

object contextual menu
Before you can remove the last remaining manifestation of the object, you will be prompted to confirm the deletion of the core object

delete core object

If you open a telemetry collection into a new window, it will have three panels—a list, an inspector, and a free-form canvas area where you can compose custom configurations.

collection window - default view

Collections with objects already on the canvas will default to showing only the canvas panel. You can open and resize the other panels at any time.

collection on canvas

Individual telemetry elements open into a single-panel window with selectable views.
telemetry element window views


MCT displays are compositions of user objects. You can create your own displays by creating empty telemetry collections, dropping existing telemetry elements or collections into them, and then arranging them and formatting these objects within the canvas panel.

User-created collections can contain other collections.

nested collections

MCT includes a variety of options that allow you to format:
  • the canvas and the outer portions (panel borders, etc.) of panels that lie on the canvas
  • the inner portions of panels on the canvas, such as plot views and the alpha views of collections (tables)

All canvas formatting is associated with only that particular canvas. This is true of both formatting the canvas panel itself and formatting panels on the canvas.

Formatting the Canvas

Right-click a blank area of the canvas for a contextual menu of options that apply to the canvas as a whole.

camvas formatting options
Four sizes of grids are available from the Grids flyout menu. The default is no grid.

grids flyout

Formatting Panels on the Canvas

Any formatting applied to panels on the canvas—including formatting within the panels—is specific to the canvas of that collection. Objects dragged to the canvas retain the label that is certified to go with the value displayed. That attachment cannot be broken no matter how the object is formatted, so you can always be sure that you are viewing the correct data values associated with the core object.

If an object in the collection is opened into its own window or added to another collection, it will default to its original core views.

You can access formatting options for selected panels on the canvas:

  • From the selected panel’s right-click contextual menu. These formatting options also appear on the Objects menu when one or more canvas objects are selected.
canvas object formatting options
  • Bring the selected panel to the front of any other overlapping canvas panels
  • Send the selected panel behind any other overlapping canvas panels
  • Align selected panels to each other
  • Add borders to all or selected sides of the pane
  • Select the line style of the borders
  • Toggle the panel’s title bar on or off

  • From the Canvas drop-down formatting controls
canvas formatting control area
  • Position of the selected panel in pixels from the upper left corner of the canvas
  • Height and width of the panel in pixels
  • Add borders to all or selected sides of the panel
  • Select the border style from a drop-down menu
  • Select the border color from a drop-down menu
  • Align selected panels to each other horizontally or vertically on the canva
  • Toggle the panel’s title bar on or of
  • Rename the title of a panel on the canvas
  • Change the title font name, size, and style
  • Select the title bar foreground and background color from a drop-down menu

Formatting Object Views

MCT also will allow you to format any of the views displayed inside panels. If you have selected a panel on the canvas, the formatting is only applied to that panel on that canvas. A different set of views is available for each panel on the canvas. This means that you can format the same view of the same object in different ways in two different panels on the same canvas.

Always be aware of whether you are formatting a core view of the object or the view of a manifestation of the object in a canvas panel.

  • To format a core view, select the core object in the list panel, select the desired Inspector view, and open the control area at the top of the Inspector to access the formatting controls. The Inspector panel title bar should say “Inspector”, followed by the name of the object
inspect core object

You can also open the object into its own window, use the window’s View menu to switch to the desired view, and then click the expander arrow next to the view label.
  • To format the view of a panel on canvas, select it on the canvas, select the desired Panel Inspector view, and open the control area at the top of the Inspector to access the formatting controls. The Inspector title bar should say “Panel Inspector” and the name of the view should be followed by “(Panel-Specific)”
inspect canvas object

Alpha View Formatting

To format the contents of an alpha view, open the control area at the top of the alpha view. Different options will be available, depending on whether you have selected table rows, columns, or cells.

If you have not selected anything inside the table, you will only be able to choose whether nested collections will be displayed as rows or columns.

alpha nested collection display

If you have selected a row or column, you will also be able to format:

  • The row height and column width
row and column formatting
  • The row or column header labels
table header formatting
  • Selected cells, or the cells in the rows or columns selected
table cell formatting

To limit your formatting to individual cells, select the cells rather than the row or column that contains them.

Plot View Formatting 

To format the contents of a plot view, open the control area at the top of the plot view.

The top section of the control area is for formatting the initial plot settings.

initial plot settings

The bottom sections control plot behavior when space for the incoming data runs out on the time axis or the nontime axis.

time axis settings
nontime axis settings
Interactive plot formatting options are also available for plots.
  • When you hover your mouse over a plot, a Pause/Play button will appear. Pressing this button prevents the time axis from adjusting, but the incoming data is still plotted until it gets to the edge of the time axis. Even after the plot line disappears off the end of the pinned time axis, its data are retained in the buffer and will be plotted when the axis is unpinned.
  • To bring up the zoom controls, hover your mouse over the plot window and hold down the Alt key. 
  • To bring up the pan controls, hover over the plot window and hold down the Control key

Graphical View Formatting

To format the contents of a graphical view, open the control area at the top of the graphical view.

graphical view formatting

The controls allow you to select:

  • the shape of the graphic from a dropdown menu
  • the color used to fill the graphic shape when data is not displayed
  • the color used for the graphic border
  • the direction that the incoming data is drawn

If an evaluator is associated with the telemetry element, you can assign colors to each of the outputs.

Sue Blumenberg,
Aug 13, 2012, 4:47 PM