Computer Software for Steel Professionals

Structural Material Manager Version 15.3 Upgrade

Introduction: Version 15.3 is the fourth installment in the 15.x-series of Structural Material Manager releases. This new upgrade makes two major changes: one visual, and one "under the hood." The visual change allows the application’s display to appear in radically different ways depending on each user’s preference. The non-visual change greatly improves speed and reliability when the application is run across a network.

The two major new Version 15.3 features as well as a couple minor ones are now covered in detail.


Numerous Display Styles: Structural Material Manager Version 15.3 adds support for many different display styles. These styles are sometimes referred to as "themes," but they are actually more closely related to a concept often called "skins."

The default style that the Windows operating system uses is named, appropriately enough, "Windows." Under that particular style, all user-interface controls will take on their normal colors and appearances. As the Windows operating system has evolved, Microsoft has made design decisions that render those normal appearances in such a way that many users find somewhat bland. Those design choices have also affected the Microsoft Office suite of applications which is comprised of Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, and other programs. Many of the default displays are now comprised of a lot of light gray, dark gray and white color combinations. To see the dramatic differences, one has to merely have a look at a Windows 7 PC running Word 2007 versus a Windows 10 PC running Word 2016; many users will find the former combination bright and colorful but the latter quite dull. Today's computer users have come to expect a more vibrant user-interface experience, and that is precisely why Structural Material Manager now offers myriad display alternatives.

All styles other than "Windows" present user-interface elements in some out-of-the-norm manner. Some of the styles make subtle changes to colors and appearances whereas others provide dramatic flare. Many of them are just too whimsical to be practical and seem to be have perhaps created more for fun than serious work. Many, however, are very useful in that they not only bring a fresh look to the application but also provide an optimal contrast between text elements and their backgrounds. Personal preferences of course come into play here, and readability on your particular system is also important.

Users who run Structural Material Manager only once in a while - perhaps to periodically check inventory levels or to inspect a job's Production-Control status - won't care much about choosing a certain display style. On the other hand, their coworkers who spend a large portion of their workdays using the application will appreciate the ability to personally choose a preferred style. Since display styles are remembered on a user-by-user basis, everyone can feel free to experiment and choose their own favorite.

This section discussed the concept of display styles and how they can radically change Structural Material Manager to suit personal tastes and eyesight. View our display styles demonstration video if you'd like to see a quick tutorial showing display styles action.


Faster and More Stable Network Access: Version 15.3 has received a major architectural change that provides the following improvements when the system is deployed on a network:

  1. Faster load times
  2. Faster execution times
  3. Improved stability

None of the speed and stability benefits described here apply to locally-launched systems such as those run on local Drive C:. Such installations are already local and enjoy optimum speed and stability by default. The new architecture comes into play only when Structural Material Manager detects that it has been invoked across a network.

A discussion of the new architecture is in order. It is a bit technical in nature but sheds some light on why the upgrade brings both performance and stability improvements to network systems.

Let's begin with the fact that Structural Material Manager's splash screen is actually a separate program. It is the SMM.Exe item that appears in Structural Material Manager's program shortcut such as X:\EJE\SMM.Exe assuming a mapped network Drive X:. However, SMM.Exe not actually the main application. SMM.Exe is really just a 32-bit "loader stub" that presents the splash screen while it carries out its actual goal: chaining control to the main application. That main application resides in either X:\EJE\SMM32\SMM32.Exe or X:\EJE\SMM64\SMM64.Exe depending on the target operating system.

When Structural Material Manager is installed on the network, the SMM.Exe loader stub - which is quite small - is always launched across the network. That has always been the case and remains so under the Version 15.3 upgrade. However, the much larger SMM32.Exe and SMM64.Exe programs are now launched across the network only initially. After the program has been up and running and has had enough time to silently copy SMM32.Exe and SMM64.Exe (and any of their dependencies) to the Windows Temp folder, the upgraded architecture ensures that future launches of the main program are carried out locally rather than across the network.

The first advantage of how the new system launches SMM32.Exe and SMM64.Exe locally is that local loads are typically faster than those performed across network connections. This means that once the network-launched SMM.Exe splash-screen chains control to the actual SMM32.Exe or SMM64.Exe application which resides locally, you'll be able to get working much sooner than before. The splash screen is displayed for less time since the locally-launched main application loads more quickly.

Fast load times are nice, but perhaps more important is the fact that once the locally-launched main application is up and running, it still benefits from speed improvements. Due to the manner in which the Windows operating system only loads certain parts of large executables into memory at a time, it has to constantly fetch other parts of program code as they are needed. If Windows loaded the entire SMM32.Exe or SMM64.Exe program into memory at once, it would have access to all parts of the program at all times, but that is simply not how the operating system loads program code. Imagine a network-launched executable constantly having to load code fragments across the network connection, and the runtime speed benefits a locally-launched program enjoys become obvious.

The final advantage of the new architecture is that locally-launched programs tend to be more stable during runtime. As mentioned above, the Windows operating system only loads pieces of large executables at once, and it has to constantly fetch other parts during runtime. As Windows attempts to swap in some other pieces of program code for an application that was launched across the network, the program can completely crash if there is even a momentary interruption in network connectivity. Contrast that with the situation of a locally-launched program: Windows uses only local drive access to swap program code in and out of memory, and such access is all but guaranteed to be uninterrupted and reliable.

The speed and stability benefits of locally launching the main program are achieved with absolutely no extra configuration work required on the part of the I.T. staff during initial application setup or later updating. Everything is automatically handled by the SMM.Exe loader-stub.

If for some reason you want to block this behavior and force all program components to always be launched across the network, simply modify the program shortcut to explicitly launch X:\EJE\SMM32\SMM32.Exe or X:\EJE\SMM64\SMM64.Exe rather than SMM.Exe. The loader-stub will be bypassed, and the main application will always be run from the network. Details are available at our Win64 support page (see the “Eliminating the Splash Screen” section of that page).


Stricter Criteria When Converting Plates to Bars: When Structural Material Manager converts plates to bars, it can optionally restrict the conversion so that only bars that are likely to actually be available from suppliers will be generated. This is accomplished by consulting an internal table of all valid bar sizes according to official, industry-standard charts. However, some such official references may list certain bar sizes that are technically valid sizes but are unlikely to actually be able to be purchased. Version 15.3 makes the conversion criteria stricter by no longer automatically converting plates to the following bar sizes::

  • 1/8" x 11"
  • 3/16" x 2 3/4"
  • 3/16" x 3 3/4"
  • 3/16" x 11"
  • 1/4" x 6 1/2"
  • 5/16" x 7 1/2"
  • 3/8" x 3 5/8"
  • 3/8" x 6 1/2"
  • 3/8" x 7 1/2"
  • All bars 7/16" thick regardless of their widths
  • 1/2" x 7/8"
  • 1/2" x 1 1/8"
  • 1/2" x 1 5/8"
  • 1/2" x 7 1/4"
  • 1/2" x 8 1/2"
  • 1/2" x 9 1/2"
  • 1/2" x 11"
  • 5/8" x 1 1/8"
  • 5/8" x 11"
  • 3/4" x 1 7/8"
  • 3/4" x 11"
  • 7/8" x 3 1/4"
  • 1 1/8" x 8"
  • All bars 1 3/8" thick regardless of their widths
  • All bars 2 1/4" thick regardless of their widths
  • 3" x 4 1/16"
If your shop can actually purchase any of the above Bar sizes, please send an e-mail message to We will gladly reactivate any and all sizes you need added back. Such changes will be done at no charge, and they will be implemented in such a way as to not affect any other customers.


Sample Excel Files: Structural Material Manager is supported directly by many programs such as SDS/2, Tekla and others which export to .EJE and/or .KSS files that Structural Material Manager can import. However, other programs such SolidWorks, Revit and Inventor that do not export .EJE or .KSS files can still be interfaced to Structural Material Manager. One of the easiest ways to transfer bills of material from such programs is to use Excel as an intermediary. For instance, a SolidWorks bill of material can be exported to Excel, and from Excel that list can be saved to an ASCII-delimited file that Structural Material Manager can import. As an aid in getting the field order (Piece Mark first, Quanity next, Material Type after that, etc.) correct in Excel, the Version 15.3 Structural Material Manager upgrade includes a couple of sample spreadsheets. These new files, ExcelExampleStandard.Xls and ExcelExampleAlternate.Xls, can be treated as templates when interfacing to programs that don't directly output .EJE and/or .KSS files.


Upgrade Price Quote and Ordering Info: If you are an existing customer with an older Structural Material Manager version, please e-mail us at to obtain a price quote on the latest upgrade. You can then use the Online Upgrade Order Form to conveniently place the order for the latest Structural Material Manager upgrade.


Other Upgrade Versions: This page specifically covers Version 15.3 upgrade features. For information concerning other upgrade versions, visit our main Structural Material Manager upgrade page which contains links to pages describing improvements in each software release from Version 10.1 (circa 2007) to the present.