emailing large files

I love being able to keep all my analyses together in one file with GeoStudio 2007, it far easier to organise things, and under the hood it lets us do smarter things in the code, like sharing the geometry and mesh between all analyses, or placing analyses on a timeline to view results across multiple analyses.

But it makes for really large files.  And sharing those files becomes a pain.  Try emailing your 30 MB .gsz file to a colleague or to our tech support and you may be rudely reminded your IT department limits your emails to 10 MB.  (In fact I hear Greg right now in the office next to mine on the phone telling somebody to “save your file without solution and email it to me…”)

Fortunately it’s easy to get rid of some of that excess baggage using what we call the “Save As Without Solution” option.  Choose File – Save As, then change the “Save as type” option to “GeoStudio Compressed Excluding Solution (*.gsz)”.

Save As Without Solution

That option strips out all results from the file, saving only the definition, bringing you down to something typically under a couple hundred KB.

The down side of course is that your colleague will need a license in order to re-solve all the analyses before being able to look at any results.  If you’re sending it to a supervisor who just wants to use the free Viewer license to look at results, this won’t work so well.  Or maybe your colleague has a license but it takes two days to re-solve the analysis.

In that case an option would be to remove results for some analyses but leave others.  Say you have ten analyses in the file because you were trying out a few options, but your supervisor only needs to look at two of them.  You could Save As without Solution, then re-solve just those two analyses.

The .gsz file is really just a zip file.  So for fine-tuned (if a bit risky) accuracy you can open the .gsz file in WinZip or your favourite zip utility and delete the entire folder that has the name of the analysis whose results you want to nuke.  For example, here I would delete everything in the folders named “1 – Initial pwp\” and “1 – Initial pwp01\” to delete results for an analysis named “1 – Initial pwp”.

Deleting results in Winzip

This gives you a bit more fine-grained control over what results to keep and what to discard.

Other ideas include saving results for fewer time steps.  (Do you really need to save results for every second of a 365–day analysis?)  Or use fewer sample slip circles.  Of course you end up with less data, so that will have to be a judgment call you make as an engineer.

There will still be times when you simply cannot delete any results, they must be included, and the file is still large.  Unfortunately there’s not much that can be done at that point except to find an alternate way of sending the file.  If we’re doing tech support and need a large file from you we give you temporary access to an ftp account that will let you upload your file with no size restrictions.  Within your organization you can likely use a shared folder over the network.  There are also some file sharing web sites out there but I have not used enough to recommend one.  Have you?  Leave a comment and let me know how you send large files.

Hopefully this gives you at least a bit more control over your file sizes.  Disk is cheap, but transmitting all those bits can still be an issue!

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keyin shortcuts

If you’re an existing user of GeoStudio you’re already familiar with the “KeyIn” vs “Draw” paradigm that’s pretty much unique to GEO-SLOPE products.  The KeyIn and the Draw menus have essentially the same items in each.

The KeyIn menu in SIGMA/W 2007   The Draw menu, also in SIGMA/W 2007

For Regions, Lines and Points, the idea is that in KeyIn you can type them in (useful if you know the exact coordinates to 10 digits of precision) but in Draw you draw them on the screen.

Materials, Beams, Bars and Boundary Conditions are a little different.  You always have to use both the KeyIn and Draw menus.  You first KeyIn the definition of the object (the material properties, for example), then you Draw that material by clicking on an existing region.

That’s straight-forward conceptually, but in v6 (GeoStudio 2004) it meant lots of unnecessary clicking.  If you’re in Draw Element Properties (now renamed to Draw Materials) and you realise you need a new material, you have to exit the mode, KeyIn Materials, add the material, close the box, Draw Element Properties again.

That’s all changed in v7.  You can still do it the old way if you want, but you don’t have to.  In fact I find the only thing I use the KeyIn menu for any more is KeyIn Analyses.  All the other KeyIn items you can reach from their Draw command.

Let’s keep looking at Draw Materials for example.  Notice the “KeyIn…” button right on the dialog box.

Notice the KeyIn button on nearly every Draw dialog box

Always start by using the Draw command.  If you need to define a new material, click the KeyIn button, define your material, and when you click Close it will already be selected for you in the Draw dialog.

In fact if you’re adding that material and you realise you need a new function for it, click that button labeled “…” – it’s a shortcut to the appropriate KeyIn Functions command (there just wasn’t room to write that all out on the button).

The “…” button is a shortcut to KeyIn Functions

Use the KeyIn buttons, define materials, boundary conditions and functions only when you need them, and you’re on the road to being an efficient GeoStudio modeler.

introductions

As a UI programmer for GEO-SLOPE, I’m one of the guys whose job is to make sure you only have to wrestle with your geotechnical problem, not with our software.  That’s a constant struggle for us!  How do we make the software more powerful and yet easier to use?  Often that means the most common features are easily discovered (from the menu, toolbars or dialog boxes) but the more powerful ones are somewhat hidden.

In this blog I hope to uncover some of the more hidden features of GeoStudio 2007, explain some of the thinking that goes into the product’s interface, and give you an intuitive understanding of how things work.

(Please note:  I am NOT an engineer!  I won’t (can’t!) be talking about how to model or when to use one material model over another.  What I can (and will) give you is an insider’s look at the GeoStudio interface.)