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This week we released version 8.14, or “GeoStudio 2012, December 2014 Release”.
We’re aiming to continue to provide useful improvements in every release to customers with annual maintenance. If your license includes maintenance through December 2014, then you can immediately upgrade to this release.
Take a look at the release notes for the full list of changes. I want to highlight a few here that I personally find particularly interesting.
A new “Root Finder” algorithm can be selected in KeyIn Analyses – Advanced – Search Method. The search method available in version 8.13 and older was a linear technique that calculated the factor of safety values at several lambdas and then searched for a cross-over point.
The new root finding strategy forecasts the required percentage of the inter-slice force function (lambda) based on previous estimates using a non-linear function. This non-linear prediction can sometimes reduce the number of iterations required to find the converged lambda.
You can see in the “Factor of Safety vs. Lambda” graph how the algorithm narrowed in on a solution and found where moment and force are within the tolerance that was set. (I’ve highlighted the points to make them easier to see.)
The Preview of the next major release of GeoStudio has seen a number of changes.
It now handles AIR/W and CTRAN/W analyses (which are now first-class citizens, no longer needing to be connected to a SEEP/W analysis).
Particle tracking is no longer a feature exclusive to CTRAN/W: you can now track particles in any analysis that contains data about air flow or water flow.
And much more, which you can read about in the GeoStudio Preview overview.
In the past, any time you switched between analyses, or went from Define view to Results view, any dialog you had open would close.
That can be tedious when you are trying to compare results between several analyses: you go into Draw Graph, look at some numbers, switch to another analysis, click Draw – Graph and select the graph again, switch back and start all over.
Likewise if you want to assign a new material across several staged analyses for example, you go Draw Materials, click on a region, switch to a child analysis, click Draw – Materials again, select the material from the list, click the region, switch to the next analysis, and start over.
Now many such dialogs will stay open as you change analyses. Draw Materials, click a region, change analyses, click a region, change analyses…
We weren’t able to do that for all dialogs yet, but we’ve picked the ones we felt would most benefit. If we missed one that you feel would benefit from this as well, do let us know.
We’ve continued to make improvements around importing DXF files. Many situations where in the past you would have to go back to AutoCAD or whatever application created the DXF, and make additional changes in order for it to be imported into GeoStudio, now those cases will import correctly.
When a DXF contains a cross-section that is not on the Z=0 plane, it used to come into GeoStudio “squished” (possibly squished right down to a line if we were looking at its edge), as GeoStudio would ignore the Z component. Now GeoStudio will figure out the normal vector and rotate it before importing.
When a DXF is oriented in a “side-view” projection in AutoCAD instead of a “top-view”, or it was created by an application that orients cross-sections vertically, previous versions of GeoStudio would ignore the Z values, and the imported cross-section would appear as a single line of points. This line was essentially the top edge of the cross section.
You could fix that in the past by opening the file in AutoCAD, rotating it, then re-importing. But that’s not always an easy thing to do. Now GeoStudio will align itself so it’s looking at the cross-section “face on” regardless of its 3D azimuth. Here’s the same DXF imported in the December 2014 Release (with material colours added for clarity):
When importing a DXF as regions, in the past, GeoStudio would only import closed polylines. I know that was a frustration to many people because it’s not always obvious in AutoCAD which polylines are marked as closed, and some applications don’t even have a way of controlling that property. Now GeoStudio will include polylines where the first and last points are identical. It also supports HATCH elements.
When you choose a DXF to import (either as regions or as a Sketch Picture), you’re faced with a somewhat daunting dialog box giving you options for adjusting the origin and scale to better fit the extents of the DXF. It isn’t always clear what the effects of your choices will be.
We’ve added an Apply button so you can now experiment. Check both boxes, hit Apply, and look at what it does to your page. If you don’t like the result, edit one of the numbers and hit Apply again. When you’re happy with it, you can close the dialog.
A lot of effort was put into making GeoStudio “snappier”, especially when working with larger files (with a large number of analyses, lots of small regions, large meshes, etc.). You should notice it taking less time to open files, for example. When you click the Solve button, it should start solving much more quickly. Switching from one analysis to another should be faster.
The screen should update more quickly as well. That will be especially noticeable when you’re scrolling, zooming, or working over a remote desktop session.
We’ve expanded the number of languages supported by GeoStudio. GeoStudio 2007 introduced a Chinese version (thanks to our friends in China, CnTech). And a couple of years ago we added Spanish to (parts of) GeoStudio 2012.
We have now completed the Spanish translation to include nearly everything in the software–only online help and the engineering manuals remain in English–and we automatically run in Spanish if your operating system’s language is Spanish.
We also added a brand new French translation, which will be used automatically if your OS is French.
We would love to hear some feedback about these translations. Are they helpful? Are they useless without also translating the online help, the engineering methodology books, our web site, or providing support in those languages as well? Should we target additional languages?
I’m looking forward to seeing how much these languages get adopted.
Keely, one of our engineers, has been busy lately expanding our stock of videos highlighting various GeoStudio features.
Some of the movies highlight new features found only in the preview of the next GeoStudio version, but others will be just as useful to GeoStudio 2012 users.
(Our web site still calls it the “GeoStudio 2014 Preview”, but I’ll just call it the “GeoStudio Preview” since 2014 is nearly over!)
Head over to the GeoStudio Preview Tutorial Movies page and take a look.
A few of my favourites include:
I love seeing others blogging about GeoStudio, even (or especially!) when I have to rely on Google Translate to understand what they said.
Here’s a tip from Filipe Fuscaldi about passing data from AutoCAD to GeoStudio:
He says our web site recommends exporting the CAD drawing to an image, importing that as a background picture, then drawing regions overtop. Ouch! I’ll have to find those outdated instructions and remove them, because as he correctly points out, there’s a much better way using the File – Import Regions command.
A MORE PRACTICAL WAY
1) Choose your profile on AutoCad.
2) Use the Boundary command (shortcut bo just type in the command line)
In Meshing Efficiently, I touched briefly on different ways of refining your mesh. After a question from a reader today I thought it would be worthwhile visiting this topic again.
Start by choosing Draw – Mesh Properties from the menu. Set the global–or default–mesh size. Then add constraints to specific pieces of the geometry to tweak the mesh size where necessary.
Adjust the “default” mesh size across the entire domain by setting the Global Element Size. We call this the approximate size because it’s just a guide to the meshing algorithm.
Click on a region to add a constraint to that region. For example, here I’ve requested that the lower region have 0.5m element edges instead of the global 2m. You can see that the lower region has uniform elements, whereas the top region starts out with 0.5m elements (we can’t have discontinuity between the two) but heads toward 2m elements the further away it is from the constraint.
Here’s a tip: if your region is very small, it may be difficult to select it in order to add a constraint–you’ll end up selecting its lines or points instead. Here I’m trying to select the region but only get the “line” cursor:
The solution is to zoom in. The larger (visually) the region, the more “region” space you can click on.
Click on a line to add a constraint to that line. This time elements along the line have 0.5m edges but get larger as they move away from the line. The mesh in the upper region is unaffected.
If I put the constraint on the horizontal line instead, both regions’ meshes are affected since they both share that line.
Click on a point to give it a constraint. The mesh is dense by that point but gets coarser the further away it gets.
We’ve just released a new beta of GeoStudio, in preparation for a real release later this summer, and I’d like to highlight a few of the new features that I especially like.
In any release cycle, we like to focus on improving specific areas of the software. The two main areas of focus in this beta are SLOPE/W and licensing.
Slope analyses get a big boost in speed when running on multiple cores. In particular we’ve fine-tuned analyses using optimization, and probabilistic analyses. We’re finding our solve times are from twice to 10x as fast, depending of course on various factors.
One new Slope feature I particularly like is that Slope analyses can now be “chained”: you can solve one analysis using thousands of potential slip surfaces, identify the ten most critical, and then do a further analysis on just those ten slip surfaces.
Licensing is one of those necessary evils that nobody likes unless it “just works”. Unfortunately we continue to see many people frustrated when licensing does not work for them, and unable to figure out why it worked yesterday but today it tells me I have no license.
We’ve spent a lot of time over the past few months trying to make licensing more robust so that it “just works” more often, but we’re also better communicating problems and solutions when something does not work.
Instead of just saying you have no license (as previous versions often did), this error shows that you do indeed have a SLOPE/W and a Standard license, but both were unavailable for different reasons. The links at the bottom may help you resolve the problem (although in this case you should probably just plug in your USB key).
I’m very happy we finally support the more modern image formats! Our Sketch Pictures feature was added back when .bmp was the only raster image format on the block. We finally got around to welcoming .jpg, .gif, .png, and other modern formats. It even supports transparency, so your picture can overlap other objects:
These are a few of the changes in this beta, and a taste of what’s to come in the release later this year.
Remember the beta installs side-by-side with the release, so you can download and install this beta and still easily switch back to the stable release. I’d love it if you would take the time to try some of these new features and tell me about your experience, either by email or here on the blog.
Let’s take a look at one of the new features of the GeoStudio 2014 Preview: performing a true 1D analysis.
In the past you could imitate a 1D analysis by simply defining a single column of regions and making sure to apply boundary conditions that only vary vertically (for a horizontal column). In fact we demonstrate that technique in an example file.
A 1D analysis in the 2014 Preview is truly a single dimension, which has a few important implications.
It’s important to understand that the “dimensionality” is a per-analysis setting, set in KeyIn Analyses: in the same .gsz file, one analysis can be 1D while another is 2D. Furthermore, geometry (regions, lines and points) is always shared by all analyses in a .gsz file. It follows then that the geometry in a 1D analysis is a subset of that in a 2D analysis.
For example, run the 2014 Preview and open Convective Surface on Semi Infinite Domain. Go into KeyIn Analyses and select the first analysis, “small time steps”. Notice it is set to “2D”; note the boundary condition on the ground surface, and the material colour over the entire region.
Now move down to the second analysis, “using a 1D analysis”. The Analysis Dimension settings changes to 1D, the boundary condition is now applied to the point at the ground surface, the line has a material colour, and the region is greyed out.
The important point is that a 1D analysis is a simplification of a 2D analysis, just as a 2D analysis is a simplification of reality.
Good modeling practice is to start simple and add complexity as you gain understanding. In many cases that may mean starting with a 1D analysis and progressing to 2D only when (or if) you need to.
As we noticed, in a 1D analysis, materials are applied to lines instead of regions. That’s reflected in the Draw Materials command:
Boundary conditions work similarly: they can be applied only to lines or points, not to regions in a 1D analysis.
Unit flux (“q”) boundary conditions are worth highlighting: most unit flux boundary conditions have a new optional “surface perimeter” field. If you leave that option off, then they will function as they always have in GeoStudio 2012 and older. In a 2D analysis, a “q” BC can be applied to a line or a region; in a 1D analysis, it can be applied to a point or a line. I’ll try to expand on that in a future blog post about the “surface perimeter”.
The best way to look at results of a 1D analysis is using Draw Graph to look at results over time or along a line:
or use View Result Information to see results at a specific node:
Some things to keep in mind when working with 1D analyses:
Remember the point of this Preview is to let you try it out and to hear your feedback. You can comment on this blog, or email support [at] geo-slope [dot] com. We are actively working on these features, so your ideas will be discussed right away and will influence the next release.
If you’ve emailed, telephoned, or been by our web site in the last few days, you’ll have noticed things are not as they usually are around our office!
Normally dry Calgary was hit with an unusually high amount of rain this past weekend. Combined with an unusually high amount of snowmelt in the nearby Rocky Mountains, the normally picturesque Bow and Elbow rivers that meander through our downtown core (just blocks from our head office) overflowed their banks and flooded much of the city.
Of course all of us in the geotechnical world can immediately imagine the collapsed river banks and destroyed roads and bridges (and train derailments). Nearly 10% of the city’s population was displaced–and worse numbers in other smaller communities nearby.
Calgarians are proud of their reputation as volunteers, and our staff are no exception. Many of our staff are donating time and money helping displaced families in the area.
We were very lucky, our office did not sustain any damage, though some of our staff’s homes are flooded or in evacuated areas. We shut down some servers as a precaution over the weekend, but they are up and running again. There remains a small chance of an unannounced power failure.
The city is still in a State of Local Emergency, and likely will be for another week, and residents are asked to stay off the roads to give cleanup, repair and emergency crews the room they need to do their jobs. Those of us who are working are doing so remotely unless we are close enough to the office to walk or cycle in.
Through all of this chaos we are not forgetting you, our customers! We can access email and voice mail from home, so we are triaging your support calls and responding as quickly as we can. Thank you for your patience as we try to get back to normal routine.
This week we’ve announced the GeoStudio 2014 Preview. What in the world is that?
It’s the first time we’ve tried to release a “preview”, so this is new to us as well. I’ll try to describe how we hope you use the preview.
We’re thinking of a “preview” as “more than a beta, less than a release”. It’s not a finished product yet–in fact there are some gaping holes we’ll be closing in future releases (for example, you can’t do TEMP/W-SEEP/W convective analyses)–but we’re very happy with the features that are complete. A preview shows you the direction we’re heading, gives you an idea of what’s to come.
This particular preview, focused on TEMP/W, is able to elegantly solve some problems that the regular TEMP/W cannot–in particular with the new Land-Climate Interaction boundary condition and the revised Thermosyphon and Convective Surface boundary conditions. It also includes a great new 1D analysis. If your geothermal projects involve that type of thermal flux or are actually 1D analyses, you should definitely give the Preview a whirl.
When you install the latest release, “GeoStudio 2012, June 2013 Release“, the 2014 Preview is installed along with it. You’ll find a shortcut under your Start menu alongside the regular GeoStudio 2012 shortcut:
When you run the preview, you’ll see it looks very similar to GeoStudio 2012, but to help you recognize which version you’re running we’ve put the word “Preview” in the title bar, and made the menu and status bar blue.
This pdf gives an overview of the new features in the preview. I’ll post about a few specific features over the coming weeks. But here’s a list to get you going:
A preview is also an opportunity for you to tell us what needs to change. We’d love to hear what you like or dislike about the new features. You can comment on this blog, or email support [at] geo-slope [dot] com. We’re actively working on these features, so your ideas will be discussed right away and will influence the next release.
With the latest version of Windows released by Microsoft in the fall, we are getting more and more questions asking if GeoStudio will run on new computers running Windows 8.
I’m happy to say the answer is definitely YES!
We always aim to support the newest Windows version with the newest GeoStudio version. GeoStudio 2012 is fully supported on Windows 8, and in fact it received the Windows 8 Compatible logo shortly after Windows 8 became publicly available.
Please note, however, that older versions of our software, such as GeoStudio 2007 and earlier, are only officially supported on the versions of Windows that existed when we were actively working on that product. For example, GeoStudio 2007 is only supported up to Windows 7.
That’s not to say older GeoStudio versions won’t work on Windows 8–in fact I just fixed a bug this week that was preventing version 7 from starting up on Windows 8–but as we are not actively working on them, we can’t promise we’ll fix any Windows 8-specific bugs that show up. If you use Windows 8, we recommend you upgrade to the latest release.
That said, here is my view of GeoStudio on Windows 8:
If you’ve tried one of the older versions on Windows 8, please leave a comment and let us know your experience!
Let’s look at some of the new features in GeoStudio 2012 in more depth, and see what “insider information” I can give you that will make your day a little bit brigher.
I’ll start with the new “docking windows”, because you’ll find several of them already and I expect more will be showing up over time. They should “just work”, but I’ll point out some hidden features along the way.
Docking windows are simply windows that can be “stuck” (or “docked”) to one side of the GeoStudio application. They stay where you put them, but they are aware of whatever else is going on with the current file, so their content may change–the “Slip Surface” window, for example, will update with new factors of safety if you pick a new time step in the “Result Times” window.
By introducing docking windows in GeoStudio 2012, we hope to put more information about your analysis at your fingertips, and reducing the number of times you have to click through windows and menus and dialog boxes, so you can focus on your analysis.
Closing a docked window is easy, just click the red ‘x’ in its corner. Getting it back isn’t so obvious, but it’s just as easy: use the Window menu. (Or right-click in the empty space around the toolbars.) The list of windows available under the Window menu will changed based on whether you’re in Define or Results view, and what type of analysis you’re working with.
Next to the red ‘x’ is a “pin” icon. Click the pin to toggle between “pinned” and “unpinned” states. When a window is unpinned and you move your mouse away from it, it will slide out of view until you need it again, leaving only a small tab on the side of the screen. Hover over this tab, and it slides out again.
Here’s the Analysis Explorer after it has slid out of the way:
You may want to move a docked window. The Solve Manager window, for example, often reads better docked to the bottom of the screen instead the side.
To move a window, just click and drag its title bar. (Note that the window must be pinned before you will be able to drag it.) As you drag a window, you’ll see some markers overlaid on the GeoStudio window, to help in docking to another part of the screen. As you move your mouse over these markers, more shading will appear, giving you an idea of where your window will go when you release the mouse button.
Near the edges of the main GeoStudio window you’ll see markers like this, which let you dock to the edge of GeoStudio.
In the middle of the main view you’ll see a marker like this, which lets you dock to the edge of the window you’re over. Compare that to what we just tried above: in the former case the window would dock across the entire top of the GeoStudio window; in the latter, it only goes as wide as the Define view. (The difference may be more obvious if you click on these images to see the whole screen.)
In the middle of another docking window you get a similar marker but with an additional target in the middle. Drop on that middle target and the two docking windows will take up the same space, with tabs.
If you want to drag a window around without docking it, you can hold down the Ctrl key as you drag.
Docking windows can also “float”–that is, they can be moved around independent of the main GeoStudio window. Useful if you have two monitors, for example.
To float a window, you can double-click its title bar, or just drag it without dropping onto one of the targets.
Some people (like myself) prefer to use the keyboard as much as possible instead of a mouse. You can switch focus to a docking window by using the Window menu. To solve an analysis without reaching for your mouse, for example, you could use these keyboard shortcuts:
One of our engineers has made a short movie clip demonstrating some of these techniques, which you can watch here.
Last week we quietly slipped out a new download called Shell Extensions (Beta) on the GeoStudio 2012 Downloads page. I hope that eventually this functionality will be merged into our regular GeoStudio setup so that everyone gets it automatically, but for now you have to download and install it separately if you want the extra features.
“Shell Extensions” help Windows do nice things with a particular kind of file (.gsz files in our case), like showing thumbnails, previews, searching, and so on.
If you just install GeoStudio 2012 and NOT the shell extensions, you get some basic integration that we all just expect to work. (Though sometimes we don’t realize how much effort it took a programmer to make it “just work”!)
Icons: Gsz files get a nice icon.
Open: Double-click a gsz file, or right-click and choose Open, and it opens in the GeoStudio.
Open With: If you have 2007 and 2012 both installed on the same computer, you can right-click a gsz file and choose the Open with menu and you can choose to open the file with whichever version of GeoStudio you want.
New GeoStudio Document: Right-click in a folder and choose the New menu, then GeoStudio Document, and you get a new blank gsz file (using whatever template you’ve selected as your default).
Now download and install the shell extensions. (Go ahead, I’ll wait for you). This is what you get:
File properties: Windows Explorer will display several properties of the gsz file, including:
The properties are displayed in various places, mostly in Windows Explorer. For example:
Select any gsz file and the summary pane (at the bottom of the window) will display many of these properties.
In “Details View” you can add properties as new columns.
In “Content View” the author and version are shown.
Right-click a gsz file and choose Properties, then go to the Details tab to see them all.
Many of these properties can be seen and/or edited in GeoStudio by going to KeyIn Analyses and selecting the root item.
Searching: Use Windows Explorer or the Start button to search for gsz files using any of those properties (e.g., “author: nate” to find files I’ve created) or search for text from the contents of the gsz (e.g., “slip surface projection”). The searchable contents of gsz files include the file comments, analysis comments, and names of any objects (analyses, materials, boundary conditions, etc).
Thumbnails: Windows Explorer will show a thumbnail of the gsz file when it has enough room.
Preview: Open the Preview pane and select a gsz file to see a preview of it. (The preview is the same as the thumbnail, only larger.)
Microsoft Outlook will even preview gsz file attachments.
You don’t need to have GeoStudio 2012 installed to make use of the shell extensions. You can see properties, preview, search, all that good stuff, with any gsz file, no matter the version.
The shell extensions are still in beta because it’s difficult to anticipate all the different operating systems, hardware, languages, combinations of GeoStudio versions, security policies, and many other variables that affect how they work in real life. I’d love to hear from you! If you can spare a couple of minutes, please install them (there’s the link again!) and leave a comment about your experience or any suggestions to improve them.
I was planning on announcing GeoStudio 2012 on this blog, but now it has been out for two months, and I had to have a reader prod me to comment on it. *Sigh*
It’s been a busy couple of years working on the latest version of GeoStudio, but now that it’s out I hope I can get back to regular blogging about new features.
Perhaps the most important change in GeoStudio 2012 is not in the software itself, but in how we deliver it. Our goal is to provide frequent updates throughout the year, with new features as well as bug fixes coming out every couple of months.
Traditionally, software gets released once and then you don’t hear from the company again for a couple of years while they work on the next version, and that is how we have worked in the past as well. The problem with that approach is that early in that silent period we’ve worked on some great new features but we can’t let anyone use them because we have to save them up for the next version. We frequently have intense discussions about “is it a bug or is it a feature”, because we would allow bug fixes to be released mid-stream but features had to wait.
Now we can avoid those discussions and really focus every month on the top priorities, whether they are bugs or new features, and customers on the annual maintenance plan get to take advantage of the changes as soon as they are implemented.
Our focus with GeoStudio 2012 was on getting out of the way. You spend too much time closing windows, changing some mode, then re-opening the same window, instead of being able to focus on the engineering model itself. We’re trying to find all those pain points and smooth them out.
One way we’re doing that is by adding docking windows. In SLOPE/W, for example, the Slip Surfaces window is always there, and you can pick a different slip surface at any time, whatever else you’re doing. Similarly the finite element products show all the Result Times and let you pick a new one without having to close your graph window or whatever else you were looking at.
We noticed that solving took a lot of clicks:
Phew! Then of course if you don’t like the results you click to go back to DEFINE, make a couple of changes, and go through those 7 steps again.
GeoStudio will automatically switch to Results View (previously known as CONTOUR) as soon as it starts solving, and will show results as soon as they’re available (even before it finishes solving).
You can create a file in GeoStudio 2012 and save it as a GeoStudio 2007 file. This is something you’ve been asking for for years, and I’m very happy to announce it’s finally possible. This will allow you to upgrade only some of your licenses, or to work with partners who have not yet upgraded.
Of course there are caveats–if you use new engineering features in 2012 and save to 2007, of course GeoStudio 2007 doesn’t know anything about the new features so they will be lost. But if you stick with the 2007 feature set, you should be able to exchange files without too much trouble.
We have always made sure new GeoStudio versions could open files created by older versions (in fact you can a PC-SLOPE file if you want, from the days before Windows). But now we can finally go the other way around.
I don’t normally talk about strictly engineering features, because that is outside my area of expertise, but I’ll mention a couple of the features our engineers are most proud of.
In the finite element products, our engineers have changed the convergence schemes, and as a result many analyses can be solved more quickly; many analyses that used to run into convergence problems will solve more reliably; and (they say) the new convergence scheme is easier to understand and troubleshoot. This is all way over my head but it sounds great!
Solver speed has been improved across the board, and several analyses can be solved simultaneously to better take advantage of today’s multiple cores.
I’ve touched on a few of the big changes today, but of course there are many more. I’ll try to get back to weekly blogs focusing on specific features and giving more of my insider tips.
If any of you are using GeoStudio 2012 already, leave a comment and tell us your experience so far.
Nate, the reason I asked for the XSD is that I would like to write an XML-file from scratch, perform a batch calculation with it (Bishop, using CU-values) and then read the stability result (Safety factor). Could you tell me: A) which blocks are realy needed in the XML to do this (I guess I do not have to write the View block for instance)? B) where I can find the result in the XML? I see there are other (result) files but was wondering whether the result would be in the xml as well.
I’ll give you some suggestions here, but you’ll need to do some tests to see if I’m 100% accurate and if it matches your needs. I suggest you use GeoStudio to create an analysis similar to what you need, then do a File – Save As, change the “Save as type” to “GeoStudio File (*.xml)”, and save it. That will give you an xml file you can look through for starters, without having to go through the hassle of a zip file all the time. Now find the portions of the file you think may not be necessary, and delete them (or comment them out) one at a time, save it, try opening it in GeoStudio and see if there are any errors reported. For example, you’ll need the Analyses section, but within that section you can likely get rid of the InputFiles. Here are the major sections I’m guessing you should be able to get rid of completely without the SLOPE/W solver caring:
Which leaves you with only:
The results are not stored in the xml file. There are lots of results generated, and xml is too verbose and would inflate the file size unnecessarily. Instead results of finite element analyses are all stored in csv files–with a bonus that they are easy to open in a spreadsheet application, as well as being easy to parse in code. Results of slope analyses are not in csv format; they are in text files which are supposed to be easy to figure out. Here’s what the GeoStudio 2007 User’s Guide says about them:
All of the SLOPE/W output files have column descriptions that explain what each data set represents. If you have specific questions or it is not clear, please contact GEO-SLOPE via e-mail at support [at] geo-slope [dot] com. The following files are created by SLOPE/W: Factor of safety: *.FAC Slice forces: *.FRC01 and OPTFRC Probability and sensitivity: *.PRO01 and OPTPRO Permanent deformation (Newmark with QUAKE/W): *.NEW
Open a solved gsz file in your favourite zip application (I use 7-Zip), and you’ll see a folder with the same name as your analysis. Each solved analysis stores its results in its own folder. Inside that folder you’ll see another xml file–that’s a snapshot of the main xml file as it was when the analysis was solved. You’ll also see additional numbered folders, these are the time steps. Each time step’s results gets its own folder. All these result folders will contain csv files (for finite element analyses) or .fac/.frc files (for slope/w). The .fac file summarizes the factors of safety. The .frc01 file contains the computed forces for all slices of the critical slip surface. If you’ve opted to store results for more than one critical slip surface, then the next most critical will be stored in .frc02, and so on. The User’s Guide suggests you email support if you need help understanding the format of the result files. If you need a quick answer, that’s still your best bet, but I’m also happy to answer questions through blog comments as I have time.
Here’s an interesting bug a customer reported today (if you’re the type who finds bugs interesting).
The customer found that when he plugged an external monitor into his laptop, he could no longer use the mouse wheel to zoom in and out in GeoStudio. Same problem with the 2004 and 2007 versions.
My first reaction was that it was a problem with his laptop’s drivers (because if it’s a bug in our software, it’s probably my fault, and that could never be! But some quick experimenting showed me it happens even on my computer, though I’d never noticed it before.
It turns out the problem only shows itself when you run GeoStudio on a second monitor that is to the left or above your primary monitor. If you run it on your primary, or on a second monitor positioned to the right or below, zooming works fine.
Sound weird? Well there’s some logic to it, and an easy workaround. You see, Windows assigns coordinates to every monitor, relative to the primary. The primary monitor always has the coordinate 0, 0 in its top left corner. That means a monitor to the left will have a negative coordinate such as -1024, 0. A monitor above the primary would have a negative y coordinate like 0, -800. Apparently there’s a bug somewhere such that if either of the screen’s coordinates is negative, zooming in GeoStudio using the mouse doesn’t work.
I haven’t taken the time yet to dig into the code to see why that is, but the obvious workaround is to position your secondary monitor to the right of your primary.
There you go–a glimpse into the life of a GeoStudio developer’s day, and a workaround to an annoying bug at the same time.
Since most of you my readers are GeoStudio users, you’re likely already aware that the software itself lets you know when a new version is available to download.
Now your IT department can be alerted too, without having to actually run GeoStudio. Who knows, they may actually proactively keep your software updated!
Just go to the geo-slope.com home page and click on one of the RSS feed icons under the “Software Updates” label, then subscribe using your favourite RSS client.
Last month I gave an overview of the major blocks within GeoStudio’s xml file format. Today I’m going to dig a little deeper into one of those xml blocks.
I’ll start with the <GeometryItems> section because it’s something all GeoStudio users should be familiar with. It will demonstrate some guidelines common to the other blocks as well.
The “geometry” of your problem, as we refer to it, is composed of points, lines and regions. But regions and lines are just collections of points, so let’s look at the <Points> block first.
The <Points> block is a collection of <Point>s. You’ll see this type of xml construct often in our files, as much of the data you define involves collections of objects.
The first thing to notice is the Len=”8″ in the opening tag, which indicates that there are eight points in this collection. This is not required in standard xml, but it is required for GeoStudio. Specifying the size of the list up front allows GeoStudio to read the file more quickly because it knows how much memory to allocate.
The next thing to point out is that each point has a unique ID. This ID is what is used elsewhere in the xml to refer to a particular point. I can’t remember off-hand if the IDs must start at one and be sequential, but since this file format was intended to be written and read by GeoStudio, not by humans, you’d be advised to stick to that rule.
Now we finally get to the actual definition of the point, which is just an x,y coordinate, in the units you specified in Set Units & Scale (or in the <Coordinates> block of the xml file).
You should generally leave this alone. It indicates the version of the mesh generator that was used to generate a mesh. If you’re generating your own file, just leave this out completely.
I have no clue what this is about! Anybody else know?!
You can see that Lines are similar to Points in some ways. There’s that Len=”9″. There’s the ID. But why does the <Lines> collection contain <Lines> instead of containing <Line>s? And why are each of the nine <Lines> a block instead of a single element like the <Point>? Wouldn’t it be more succinct to say <Line ID=”1″ PointID1=”1″ PointID2=”2″/>?
I wish I knew the answer. Probably an oversight. But the problem with publishing a file format is that once it’s out there, it’s very tough to change without breaking old files, so now that’s the way it is.
Both formats are valid xml, but GeoStudio will expect one or the other so always use another gsz file as an example when hand-crafting your own.
And that’s the inside scoop you only get on GrokkingGeoStudio.com!
Now we see why it was important for each <Point> to have an ID field. A line is made up of two points, identified by the point IDs.
Note that the order of the two points does matter in some situations. While it’s not legal to have two lines with the same points just in a different order, still the order is used when you get into things like interface lines, which allow you to assign a material to one side or the other of the line.
Regions, like lines, are a collection of point IDs. Only in this case there can be any number of points, so they are presented as a comma-separated list.
A region is always a closed polygon, so it’s implied that the last point in the list connects back to the first point.
The order of the point IDs is obviously important for regions, as they define the region edges.
Interestingly, a region is not a collection of Line IDs. That used to be the case, but as we’ve begun adding circular regions and lines that don’t belong to regions, that has become too restrictive. As you work with the user interface you can think of a region as being composed of lines, but in the data file that is not the case.
So we’ve seen several common themes: the Len tag, the ID tag, collections of objects. We’ve seen how some things are done differently: using a single xml element vs using a block. And we’ve seen how the ID is used to point to one object from another.
If I write a Part 3 I’ll add to those concepts by digging into a more complicated part of the file. I’m open to suggestions!
Let’s take a deeper look into the .gsz file format. You’ll remember I’ve mentioned a few times that a .gsz file is just a zip file that contains a bunch of other files. One of those inner files is what we call the definition file. The definition file has a .xml extension and generally has the same name as the .gsz.
(If you’ve solved your analyses you’ll see several .xml files. The definition file is the one in the root directory.)
I’m assuming you are already somewhat familiar with xml in general. If that’s not a fair assumption, you may want to do some additional reading:
I’m going to look at the definition file for SLOPE Tutorial.gsz, since it’s included with every installation of GeoStudio. You can also download it here.
There’s a lot of detail in the definition file. Today I’ll just look at the bigger blocks. I may delve into more specific areas in later posts, depending on what feedback I get from you.
Use Notepad or Internet Explorer to open SLOPE Tutorial.xml if you want to follow along. The first line is:
<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”utf-8″ standalone=”yes”?>
That’s the first line of any xml file, and simply defines it as being xml.
The next line is the opening tag that defines this as a GeoStudio file, the “GSIData” block. (“GSI” stands for “GEO-SLOPE International”.) This line also identifies the version of GeoStudio that saved the file.
Now comes the good stuff. A while back I described how a GeoStudio file has “global” objects such as regions and materials which are available to every analysis, and how when you assign a material to a region you’ve just formed a link or “association” between those two objects. Well this next level in the xml file describes all those “global” objects.
The Analyses block describes each analysis. (From KeyIn – Analyses.)
The Len=”2″ part just indicates how many analyses there are. It’s not strictly necessary in normal xml, but it helps GeoStudio load the file more quickly because it knows in advance how many analyses are in that block.
The BCs block describes each boundary condition. (From KeyIn – Boundary Conditions.) Note that not every boundary condition in the list is necessarily used by your analyses–in fact there are a handful of default boundary conditions created in every file because they’re so common.\
This is where the associations are recorded. There’s a context for each analysis to record which regions and materials are connected, which lines and boundary conditions, and so on.
The Contour block describes how results are visualized.
Defines the engineering coordinates, page extents and so on. (From Set – Units & Scale and Set – Page.)
<FileInfo … />
Contains information about the file. (From KeyIn – Analyses, then click on the root item in the tree.)
The Functions block holds all the functions you’ve defined. (From the various KeyIn – Functions.) They’re split into several categories such as <Boundary>, which in turn contains categories such as <StressStrain>.
This is your geometry definition. It contains coordinates for all the points, lines and regions.
All materials you’ve defined. (KeyIn – Materials.)
The mesh that was generated from your regions. Note that when you open a file, the mesh may be regenerated, so don’t edit this section, your changes may not be used. If you want to adjust your mesh, you must do it in the GeometryItems section by applying mesh constraints to regions, lines or points.
Contains sketch lines, circles, text, images and so on. All the “markup” that doesn’t actually affect results. (From the Sketch menu.)
Each product (SLOPE/W, SEEP/W, etc.) can have its own section with data that’s specific to that product. For example, SLOPE/W uses this section to describe slip surfaces, piezometric lines, and so on. Like the <Contexts> section, there is one <SlopeItem> section per SLOPE/W analysis.
Your view preferences, most recent zoom and scroll position, and so on.
And finally we’re done with the outer GSIData block.
That’s the GeoStudio xml format at a very high level. I’ll dig deeper into specific sections over the next few weeks. Let me know if there is anything in particular you’d like covered.
Giang, if you’ve discovered some gems of wisdom as you’ve been working through this yourself, feel free to share!
I don’t normally talk about new features before they’re released, but today is an exception. Currently in beta (and a free download), version 7.15 of GeoStudio 2007 will now allow Windows to search within .gsz files.
Update 25 September: version 7.15 has now been released. The release can be downloaded from here.
(This feature will only be officially supported on Vista and Windows 7, though there are reports it sort of works on XP and Windows 2000 as well.)
For example, I’ve got some GeoStudio files in my Documents folder on Windows 7. Rather than finding the name of the file I want, I can search right from the Start button for some words inside the file.
Here I’ve searched for “toe drain”, and (in amongst a bunch of html files) I’ve found two GeoStudio files that have “toe drain” somewhere inside them.
Open one of them up, and we can see “toe drain” appeared in several places: the file’s comments as well as each analysis’ description.
In fact, Windows Search will search the author, file comments, analysis names and descriptions, and most other objects you can name (such as materials, boundary conditions, and so on).
If you are using Vista or Windows 7 already, I encourage you to download the beta and try this feature out. Leave a comment here or email me with any suggestions or problems you run into.
A GeoStudio user commented on an earlier post (“solving in batch mode”) asking how to generate thousands of similar analyses that differ only by some input parameters.
Interesting question, and I’d like to hear more about what it is he’s trying to accomplish. But in the meantime here are some thoughts.
In SLOPE/W, take a look at the Sensitivity analysis (KeyIn Analyses – FOS Distribution – Sensitivity).
That will let you specify a range of values for certain properties (such as C, Phi and Unit Weight in the material properties), and will re-run the analysis many times.
In Contour you can then do things such as graphing how the FOS is affected by varying Phi. (In the menu that’s Draw – Sensitivity.)
Similarly you can do a Probabilistic analysis in SLOPE/W, where Solve takes care of varying the parameters in a random way using a distribution function you define. It then gives you a probability of failure instead of a factor of safety.
You can find an example of sensitivity and probabilistic stability analyses on the geo-slope.com web site.
The other products (Seep, Sigma, etc) do not have sensitivity analyses built in. (It’s a feature we’re considering adding, so email or leave a comment to cast your vote if you would use it.)
I could imagine doing something similar using an Add-In and a batch file. The batch file could make many copies of the file, giving each a unique name (“dam-1.gsz”, “dam-2.gsz”, etc), then solving each. An Add-In function would be used to specify the property you want to vary. The Add-In would look at the file name (the “1” or “2” part of it) to return a different value for each run.
Not a particularly elegant solution, but it would do the trick. Of course you’d end up with hundreds of files and no simple way to compare results or graph results across the varying parameter as you can do in Slope.
Add-Ins are beyond the scope of what I can go into today, but I have been wanting to delve into them on the blog at some point. Let me know if that would interest you.
An even more adventurous route would be to edit the xml inside a gsz file. (I mentioned in passing in a few other posts that a .gsz is just a zip file that contains a bunch of other files–one of the xml files it contains is what actually defines all the data in your model.) The advantage would be you could avoid having thousands of files and instead have just a few files each containing a number of analyses. That lets you share data (so that moving a point in one file wouldn’t have to be duplicated to all the others), and you may also be able to take advantage of the fact that GeoStudio can graph across analyses.
But editing the xml is not something we officially support, so you’re on your own if you choose that route.
I’m curious what it is you’re doing with your thousands of files. Can you share some more detail? Do the tips I mentioned help? We’re working full-force on the next version of GeoStudio at the moment, so this is a great time to hear about features that would be important to you.