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RealCost User Manual

The Basics

Startup, Navigation, and Exiting

Before First Use

Because Excel 2000 treats the VBA code in RealCost much like a macro, Excel must be set to allow macros to run before RealCost can be used. As shown in Figure 3, before starting the software, open Excel 2000, check the macro security settings, and ensure that they are adjusted to allow macros to run. The security settings are accessed from the Excel 2000 menu bar.

On the Excel 2000 Menu bar:
Tools >> Macro >> Security...

Figure 3. Excel 2000 macro security form.
Figure 3. Excel 2000 macro security form. Excel 2000 macro security form. The form is found by selecting the Excel 2000 Menu bar, Tools menu, Macro menu, Security menu. The security form has two tabs (forms), Security Level and Trusted Sources. The Security Level tab (form) is selected in this figure. It shows three options which read: 'High.  Only signed macros from trusted sources will be allowed to run.  Unsigned macros are automatically disabled.'; 'Medium. You can choose whether or not to run potentially unsafe macros.'; and 'Low (not recommended). You are not protected from potentially unsafe macros.  Use this setting only if you have virus scanning software installed, or if you are sure all documents you open are safe.' The medium option is selected in the example. The command buttons 'OK' and 'Cancel' appear at the bottom of the form.

... choose Medium Security and exit from Excel 2000.


Starting RealCost

RealCost is initiated from the Windows Start Menu (see Figure 4).

Start >> Programs >> RealCost >> RealCost 2.1

Figure 4. RealCost on the Windows Start menu.
Figure 4. RealCost on the Windows Start menu. RealCost on the Windows Start menu. To start RealCost, the user is instructed to select Programs on the Windows Start menu, RealCost on the Programs menu, and RealCost 2.1 on the RealCost menu. The RealCost menu shows a second option, RealCost Help, which is not selected in the figure.

This command opens Excel 2000 as well as the file "RealCost.xls." Alternatively, a Windows desktop shortcut link to RealCost.xls can be created to open the software.

If the security setting for Excel 2000 is "medium," Excel presents the option to enable macros, as shown in Figure 5, each time RealCost is opened. To run RealCost, choose "Enable Macros." If the macro options form does not appear, check that the Excel macro setting is "medium" (see "Before First Use," above).

Figure 5. Excel 2000 macro options form shown at each RealCost startup.
Figure 5. Excel 2000 macro options form shown at each RealCost startup. Excel 2000 macro options form shown at each RealCost startup. Three options appear: Disable Macros, Enable Macros, and More Info. Enable Macros is selected.

Moving Between the Switchboard and Worksheets

RealCost opens to the main menu form, called the "Switchboard," a form superimposed on an Excel worksheet. The Switchboard buttons, shown in Figure 6, provide access to almost all of the functionality of the software-data entry, analysis, reports, and utilities. These capabilities are discussed in more detail in "RealCost Switchboard Functions" (page 18). Basic navigation and the Administrative Functions are described here.

Figure 6. The RealCost Switchboard.
Figure 6. The RealCost Switchboard. The RealCost Switchboard. The Switchboard main menu form, which is superimposed on a RealCost Excel worksheet, shows the 19 submenu buttons in five sections: (1) Project-Level Inputs: Project Details, Analysis Options, Traffic Data, Value of User Time, Traffic Hourly Distribution, Added Vehicle Time and Cost, Save Project-Level Inputs, and Open Project-Level Inputs; (2) Alternative-Level Inputs: Alternative 1 and Alternative 2; (3) Input Warnings: Show Warnings; (4) Simulation and Outputs: Deterministic Results, Simulation, Probabilistic Results, Report; (5) Administrative Functions: Go to Worksheets, Clear Input Data, Save LCCA Workbook As..., Exit LCCA.

When the Switchboard is active, the underlying Excel 2000 worksheets, which capture the data entered through the Switchboard forms, and the Excel menu bar are not accessible. If you want to minimize RealCost, you will need to switch to worksheet mode using either of two options:

  • Use the Go to Worksheets button in the Administrative Functions section of the Switchboard to display and select from a list of worksheets.
  • Use the Switchboard's "x" button (located in the upper right-hand corner of the form) to close the Switchboard.

To reopen the Switchboard from a worksheet, use the drop-down RealCost menu in the Excel 2000 menu bar, as shown in Figure 7.

Figure 7. Opening the Switchboard from the RealCost menu.
Figure 7. Opening the Switchboard from the RealCost menu. Opening the Switchboard from the RealCost menu. RealCost is shown in worksheet mode. On the Excel menu bar, The RealCost dropdown menu is selected, showing the following menu options: RealCost Switch Board; RealCost Help; Unprotect RealCost Worksheets; Protect RealCost Worksheets; Project Details; Analysis Options; Traffic Data; Value of User Time; Alternative 1; Alternative 2; Deterministic Results; Show Warnings; Probabilistic Input; RealCost Output; Simulation; RealCost Report; Model Worksheets; Traffic Distribution; and Added Time and Vehicle Cost. The first option on the dropdown menu, RealCost Switch Board, is selected.

TIP:
Alternative data input files can only be saved through the Switchboard.

Some users may prefer to work in worksheet mode, and others via the Switchboard forms. Most functions can be performed in either mode, with these exceptions: Creating a new probabilistic input or an LCCA output requires working in worksheet mode and using the respective options on the RealCost drop-down menu. Saving alternative data input files requires using the Switchboard.

Should the RealCost menu disappear from the Excel 2000 menu bar (this may occur if you open another application or file while RealCost is running), you can retrieve the menu through the Excel 2000 drop-down Tools menu:

On the Excel 2000 menu bar:
Tools >> Macro >> Macros >> AddLCCAMenu
(i.e., run that specific macro)

Administrative Functions on the Switchboard

Commands in the Administrative Functions section of the Switchboard execute important housekeeping tasks: moving to the worksheets, clearing data, saving the entire Excel 2000 file (the "workbook"), and exiting the software (see Figure 8). These functions are similar to ordinary Windows functions, such as file saving and file opening, but are performed within RealCost.

Figure 8. Administrative Functions in RealCost.
Figure 8. Administrative Functions in RealCost. Administrative Functions in RealCost. A submenu of the RealCost Switchboard, Administrative Functions, is shown. Four buttons are displayed: Go To Worksheets, Clear Input Data, Save LCCA Workbook As..., and Exit LCCA.

TIP:
Analysis results can only be saved by saving the RealCost workbook. This file should be saved with a descriptive name.

Administrative Functions
  • Go to Worksheets: Allows direct access to specific worksheets within the workbook. To close the Switchboard and choose from a list of individual worksheets, use the Go to Worksheets button. You can also access the worksheet that is currently active by clicking on the "X" in the upper right-hand corner of the Switchboard.
  • Clear Input Data: Deletes all project-level data, alternative-level data, and computation outputs. Creates a "clean slate."
  • Save Workbook As: Saves the entire Excel 2000 workbook, including both inputs and results work-sheets. Saving a workbook is the only way to save analysis results. An analysis file is often 8 MB or greater, and saving can take several seconds. Saving a workbook can also be performed from the Excel menu bar.
  • Exit LCCA: Closes RealCost. The software will ask you whether the file should be saved. The exit commands on the Excel File menu and the RealCost menu present the same save options. As noted above, to save the analysis results it is necessary to save the entire Excel 2000 workbook. An analysis file is often 8 MB or larger, and saving can take several seconds. However, data input can be saved via *.LCC (project-level inputs) and *.LCA (alternative-level inputs) files without saving the entire workbook.

Closing RealCost

Saving and Exiting via the Switchboard

RealCost can be closed by using the Exit LCCA button in the Administrative Functions section of the Switchboard. When exiting, however, it is necessary to save the entire workbook to retain analysis results. The Exit LCCA button prompts you to save the workbook. The Save LCCA Workbook As... button can be used to save the workbook at any time. Both Exit and Save buttons prompt for a file name and location.

Saving and Exiting via Worksheets

To save a workbook and exit while in worksheet mode, it is advisable to use the "save as" option on the Excel 2000 menu before closing. Saving under an appropriate name will preserve the analysis results. If you save your work in the RealCost workbook, it will be necessary to clear the data when you begin to analyze another project.

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Updated: 10/23/2013