Outpost Packet Message Manager

ICS 309 Comm Log, 


Outpost v2.5 Release Highlights

Outpost v2.5 includes several new features, including an ICS 309 Communications Log Builder, Local Message ID, and Windows data directory compliance (particularly needed for Vista and Windows 7 support).  See the Release Information for a list of other changes included in v2.4. 

ICS 309 Comm Log Builder
As that old adage goes, "the job is not done until the paperwork is complete".  This is particularly true for emergency responders and volunteer communicators.  Just as the EOC needs to pull together all the event documentation to support any financial re-imbursement, they will be looking to us communications responders for the same type of detail.  One ICS document that is critical to a communications event is the Communications Log -- who sent what message, when, and to who.  This is where the Ics309clb.exe program comes in.

ICs309clb builds up a standard 309 form based on information generated from the Outpost message log file.  In fact, if you have not deleted anything on your installation, you already have a message history going back as far as 2007.  The ICs309clb program reads this file and, based on the options you select, builds up a formal ICS 309 form.  The program supports several options:

Reporting Period.  You can determine the time frame over which you want to report.  This lets you produce a report for either an operational period, an entire day, or the entire event.

Content.  You can tailor the report to include different content (Sent, Received messages, as well as Private, Bulletins, NTS messages) as well as exclude content (for instance, exclude messages with the word "READ" or "DELIVERED" in the subject line).

Sort.  The program gives you several sort options to sort by DateTime (most typical), From+DateTime, To+DateTime, LMI+DateTime, and Subject+DateTime.  For readability, you can also insert line breaks on a change of the primary sort field.

FormatYou have the option to exclude specific fields from the report if your organization or policies do not require them.

Output.  Finally, you can produce the report in a formatted Ics309 report form, ASCII file, or a comma-delimited file.  

Ics309clb can be scheduled from the main Outpost form from the ICs Reports menu option.

Local Message ID
This was a new requirement, and after thinking about it, it was apparent that this was real, and probably should have been added years ago.  While Outpost does let you assign a unique message identifier to outgoing messages (posted in the subject line), the need was presented that some jurisdictions require that all incoming messages have the agency's message ID assigned to them, regardless if the sender put their own message ID on it.

Outpost now can assign a Local Message ID (LMI) to all messages received.  This is set up from the Message Settings menu, Message Numbering Tab (Tab 2).  both Outbound and Inbound message ID setup has been moved to this location.  

With this new feature, I recommend you review this with your served agency to see if this requirement is relevant to them. 

Windows Data Structure compliance
A few problems popped up with Vista.  The bulk of the reported problem rolled in with Windows 7.  The problem was having to deal with Microsoft's enhanced security controls for where programs can legitimately write data (and its no longer the programs directory) and keeping you all focused on packet, not PC internals.

This change moves all Outpost data directories from the programs directory to the O/S-appropriate data directory.

  • For Windows NT, 2000, XP, the path should be
              c:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Outpost
  • For Vista and Windows 7, it will be

Regardless of the O/S version you are using, the Programs Directory will only contain the following files:

Outpost.exe Main Outpost program
Outpost.conf A read-only file created by the installer that is used by all Outpost Programs that points to the Outpost data directory and subdirectories.
Opscripts.exe Outpost Scripting program
Opdirect.exe Outpost Message Capture Program, supports remote message submittal by PacFORMS and Ics21mm.exe.
Opupdate25.exe The data update program that is run by the installer to fix and/or move data files
Ipagwpe.exe Interactive Packet program, for AGWPE
Ipserial.exe Interactive Packet program, for Serial devices
Iptelnet.exe Interactive Packet program, for Telnet
Ics213mm.exe The ICS 213 Message Maker Program
Ics309clb.exe The ICS 309 Communications Log Builder Program
riched32.dll local copy required for Outpost.

Everything else will be in the data directories.

NOTE:  to find this directory, from the Outpost Menu, click Actions > View Outpost Data Directories.  A Windows Explorer form will open the the Outpost directory.

ICS 213 Messaging
While Ics213mm didn't change, the way it interacts with Outpost did.  Opdirect.exe is the program that listens for messages from Ics213mm.exe and PacFORMS.  Opdirect.exe has been rewritten to be multi-threaded so that multiple instances of Ics213mm.exe can be deployed in your EOC or workspace.

This is one area where I would appreciate any feedback as to how this is working.

General Feedback

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updated:  December 27, 2010