Release Notes for Stages V7.3

Stages V7.3 comes with innovative features to support complex product development processes. Project and program processes can now be upgraded in flight, while already finished parts remain unchanged. This allows multi-year programs - typical for automotive or aerospace industries - to always use the latest development processes without changing their past.

Modelers can design processes faster by using centralized element pools, for example for tools or phases and milestones. This improves process consistency and enables better alignment across different business units.

The new version also further improves process usability. Usage statistics provide valuable insights how processes are being used and lead the way into quantitative process improvement.

Phase Freeze

Typical product development programs for vehicles, aircrafts, or medical devices run over multiple years. During that time, the product development process changes and improves. Of course, those improvements should be incorporated into the running programs without changing already executed phases and activities. For that purpose, Stages provides a new phase freeze capability. It allows process managers to freeze phases, activities, work products, etc., that have already concluded. For complex programs spanning multiple projects, the phase freeze can be executed consistently across all projects within one operation.

After the phase freeze, the processes can be upgraded to newer versions with the existing version management capabilities. When creating a new valid version for the program, the frozen process parts are merged with the upgraded processes in a consistent way.

The phase freeze is controlled by scripts, so it can be adjusted also for customized process metamodels.

On-demand Integration of Process Modules

A lot of organizations have a standard set of tools or phases and milestones that needs to be consistenly used in all processes. As these sets tend to grow large, Stages 7.3 now contains a on-demand integration capability, where only those elements are integrated that are actually being used in a workspace.

To associate a process element with an element from a on-demand module, search for its name in the quick-assign dialog. In addition to the local elements, the search will now find also elements from the on-demand module.

When selecting the element, it will be integrated into your local process and associated with your current process element.

Details: How to manage large common element pools

Direct Download of Templates, Checklists, and other Guidance Material

To save users some clicks, it can be valuable to make templates, checklists, and other file-based guidance material directly downloadable from activity or work product pages. For example, an activity page can directly show all templates and checklists for all output work products of that activity.

The same can be configured for work products, which can directly show download links for templates and checklists.

The new Unified Configuration 2.3 already uses the new capabilities to show direct downloads in the “Viewing” perspective for activities and work products.

Hierarchical Workspace Navigation

Especially in more complex programs, product development processes are separated into multiple workspaces, e.g. one for system engineering and program management, one for hardware engineering, and one for software engineering. To easily navigate between them, Stages V7.3 contains a new hierarchical navigation. Users can get to the new navigation style by clicking or tapping on “Browse” in the workspace selection dialog.

Clicking or tapping on “>” navigates to child workspaces, clicking or tapping on “<” navigates to the parent workspace. To open a workspace, click or tap on the workspace name.

To access a workspace by its name, click or tap on “Search” and start typing. All matching workspace candidates will be listed as you type.

Usage Statistics

With version 7.3, most accessed process elements for each user are now shown on the landing page. This allows users to easily come back to parts of the process content they use frequently.

For process managers, more detailed access statistics are shown in the Management menu. This enables you to determine which parts of the process content are highly used and therefore focus process optimization on those areas.

The statistics show popular process elements for the current or all workspaces, the most actively used workspaces, and a breakdown of process content accesses by element type.

Process Feedback in Jira

Users can now send feedback directly from the process content. Each feedback is automatically created as a Jira item, so you can efficiently track and process end user feedback.

Among other data, the Jira item also contains a link back to the originating process element, so full traceability of process change requests is assured.

Details: How to configure process feedback in Jira

Integration with Sharepoint

Stages 7.3 also contains an improved integration with Sharepoint, so you can manage project files, templates, checklists, and all other file-based guidance stored in Sharepoint directly from Stages.

The following Sharepoint versions are supported:

  • Sharepoint 2010
  • Sharepoint 2013
  • Sharepoint 2016
  • Sharepoint 2019

An integration with Sharepoint Online (Sharepoint 365) is planned for version 7.4.

Details: How to configure the Integration with Sharepoint

Workspace Attributes

Workspaces can now have specific attributes that can be used in scripts to select specific workspaces. This way you can distinguish different program types, target products, etc.

Future versions of Stages will make use of those attributes to allow end users to easier find their workspaces.

Details: How to define and use workspace attributes

Administrative Jobs

Role assignments or data exports can now be automated with the new jobs capability. Administrators can upload scripts that use the existing Facade API and define their execution frequence.

We plan to expand the API in future Stages versions to also perform other administrative tasks.

Details: How to manage administrative jobs

Other Changes

A new Help link in the left side navigation now always points to the Stages online documentation. It can be configured to also point to customer-specific help content.

Processes can now also be copied into an empty workspace. The process copy is completely independent of its original, so all element identities, module relationships, and overwrites are reset in the copied version.

A ZIP file with exported process content can now be directly imported into an empty workspace.

Similar to users, permission groups are now also searchable by name.

Administrators can now put Stages into maintenance mode via the Administration menu. In maintenance mode, no users except root can log into the system. Users that are currently logged on receive a warning message on their screen and an email. The maintenance mode is kept across service restarts until it is stopped by the administrator. Access to the maintenance mode feature can be controlled through the new Maintenance Mode permission domain.

Configuration variable properties can now be managed in the conf/ and conf/ files in Java property format and used in config.xml and other xml config files. The is not contained in the pks runtime info, so it can be used to securely store passwords and other access credentials that should never leave an organization's network or the server.

New Permission Domains

To manage access to the new features, several permission domains were added in Stages 7.3. You might want to add those permissions to the respective user groups.

Mandatory Manual Upgrade Steps for Version 7.3

These actions need to be executed after upgrading to Stages 7.3 from previous Stages 7 versions.

Remove outdated stages-cms implementations

Remove existing “ stages-cms-*.jar ” files from folders: <stages-root>/lib/, <stages-root>/extension/

Adapt the server.xml

The Resources definition in “conf/server.xml” has to be adjusted. The following Resources tag in server.xml

<Context path="/stages" ...>
  <Resources allowLinking="true" caseSensitive="false"/>

has to be replaced with the following Resources tag:

<Context path="/stages" ...>
  <Resources allowLinking="true" className="org.apache.catalina.webresources.StandardRoot">
    <JarResources className="org.apache.catalina.webresources.DirResourceSet"
                  base="${stages.lib}" webAppMount="/WEB-INF/lib" />
    <JarResources className="org.apache.catalina.webresources.DirResourceSet"
                  base="${stages.datacache}/generated/lib" webAppMount="/WEB-INF/lib" />

To be safe in case of any crashes/problems during the update, back up your database (dump) and finally run the Stages update script:

  • Stop the Stages service
  • Execute the update script:
    • Windows: “…\stages\bin\update.bat
    • Linux: “…/stages/bin/
  • Restart the Stages service

URLs must contain the correct protocol

The protocol needs to be set explicitly for all URLs that have been entered without a protocol. For example, “” needs to be replaced with “”. Some changes for URLs attached to work products and Guidance elements: * URLs are now displayed in the Stages UI exactly like they have been entered, URLs that do not contain “:” will no longer be prefixed with “http:”. * When accessing a URL, you simple click a link with that URL. The access will no longer be redirected to the actual URL by the Stages server. * This means that navigation to URLs will no longer be logged in the access log. For example, URLs will no longer appear in the “Recently Used Files” widget. * This makes “file:” URLs work (if they contain a host name after the “file:” part, and only in IE 11 and Edge). “file:” URLs with local folder names or drive letters are blocked by all current major browsers for security reasons. * This makes “mailto:” URLs work (issue 32942).