prettying up reports

SLOPE/W 2007 adds a simple reporting feature.  In Contour you can choose View – Report to generate a report that describes the project definition and summarizes the results.  The report is pretty basic and you don’t have much any control over what gets included or excluded at this point (though I certainly hope that will change over time).  But there is a lot you can do with the report after it’s generated to “pretty it up”.

Because the report is a .html file you can view it in any web browser.  But if you have Microsoft Word on your computer, then GeoStudio will actually open the file in Word to allow you to edit it.  (Outside of GeoStudio you can right-click the file and choose Edit to open it in Word.)

Adding or Removing Data

Of course the simplest thing you can do with the report is to remove data you don’t want or add additional data.  You can copy the list of points from a function (KeyIn – Functions) and paste them into a table in your report if you want that level of detail, or delete the list of lambda values if you don’t really care about them.  Since you’re editing this in Word, whatever Word can do, you can do.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words 

The first thing I do when creating a report is to add a couple of snapshots of my problem:  one of the definition, one of the critical slip surface.  Create the report by switching to Contour and choose View – Report.  Give it a name and click Save.  It opens in Word. 

Now switch to Define.  It’s probably a good idea to turn on the Region Labels and Point Labels in the View Preferences so you can visually connect the tables of point and region properties with their locations in the drawing.  Then choose Edit – Copy All to copy the problem definition to the clipboard.  Switch over to Word, move your cursor down below the File Information section, and paste in the picture.

Adding an image to a report

Then I switch to Contour and repeat the process, pasting the picture into the report just above the “Critical Slip Surfaces” section for a graphical view of the results.

Adjusting Styles

Another change you can make to reports to personalize them is to change how they look.  Everything in the report is styled using a style sheet, which makes it super easy to modify a style in one place and give the entire report a different look.

You’ll notice for example that most lines start with a black label followed by a blue value.  Lets change all the values to red italics just to show how you’d go about it.

In Word you can display a list of all styles used in a document by hitting Alt-O and then S.  (In Word 2003 and older that’s Tools – Styles, and in Word 2007 it’s the same as clicking the little “expand” button on the Home toolstrip at the bottom of the Styles section.)  One of the styles you’ll see is called “value.”  Right-click on it and choose Modify to edit the style.  Change the colour to red and click the “I” button for italics, then hit OK.  All the values will now be displayed in red italics.

Modifying a style

Obviously this is a rather simple and contrived example, but it introduces you to the power of styles.  You can link the report to an existing corporate stylesheet to get your corporate letterhead and colours in the report instantly, or just play with the styles to make them look good to you.

Give Us Feedback

The reporting feature is new in version 7, and we’re still fleshing it out, trying to understand how people are using it.  Like any feature, some people want it to do one thing, others want it to do something else.  So leave comments on this blog or email us.  Tell us how you use the report, what you find yourself always changing, whether you need reporting only for SLOPE/W or also in the other products.  We really do read every email or comment you send us and all of them get discussed.


the fisherman

With all our engineers in Ottawa this week for CGS, it’s time for a light-hearted post.  Here’s a QUAKE/W analysis created by Greg.  Don’t read too much into this except that we can have fun too!

Actually this does demonstrate some fairly advanced features in GeoStudio 2007.  We could not have done this with the previous version, and not for lack of creativity. 

The fish’s mouth and the fisherman’s hand have time-dependent boundary conditions implemented as add-in functions which return random x and y displacements.  The line and rod are beam elements which flex in reaction to the motion of the fish and the hand.  The fisherman himself is of course just a big pile of dirt, with fixed x and y displacement on his feet and in the water.  The View Movie command was used to create the animation.


We’ve had undo & redo in our products for a couple of versions now, but version 7 has taken it up a notch.  Besides adding undo into Contour (previously it was only in Define), we’ve added an undo description and undo within most dialog boxes.

Undo Description

Every action you perform now has a “description” that shows up under the Undo command so you can see what it is you’re about to undo (or redo).  For example, here I’ve sketched a line and then drawn a region.

Undoing two actions

Undo Several Levels

If you just click the Undo button you’ll undo the last action.  But you can also click any item in the list to undo everything up to (and including) that item.  So in the example above if I clicked “Sketch Line” I would undo my new region and my new line in one fell swoop.

Undo in Dialogs

You’ll notice most dialog boxes have their own Undo and Redo buttons down in the lower-left corner.  These let you undo only the changes you’ve made in this dialog box.


After you close the dialog box, all those changes get wrapped up into one undo item in the global undo list.

Other Undo Tips

  • When you save a file, you can still undo to put things back how they were before saving.  But if you close the file and re-open it, you can’t undo back to the way things were before closing it.
  • If you make a change in Define and then switch to Contour, the undo description will say “[Define]” after it to let you know you’ll actually be undoing something in a different view.
  • By default you have ten levels of undo, which means you can only undo ten changes back.  If you’ve made eleven changes, that first one can not be undone.  If you have a computer with lots of memory, you can increase the number of levels using the Tools Options command.  Set the “Undo/Redo Levels” value to a higher number, or set it to 0 (zero) to tell GeoStudio never to stop keeping track of your changes.

welcome direct contact readers

I’m expecting a surge of visits over the next few days as I’ve been informed the October edition of Direct Contact will include a link to this blog.  Welcome!  I’m glad you’re here. 

I plan to blog something interesting at least once a week, so drop by again for more insider tips.  Or subscribe by email to get the latest article as soon as it’s written. 

You know what you can do for me in return?  Leave comments!  That’s the part of blogging that really gets me pumped.  If what I wrote was particularly useful to you, let me know.  Better yet, if you have your own tips to share, mention them in the comments too!  It will help everyone else who’s reading, and it will give me ideas of things to write about in the future.


the more things change

Back with version 5 of our products (we called it “GEO-SLOPE Office” back then, but it’s the same thing as what you know as GeoStudio now), each product had its own file format.  (I think v5 was when we first introduced file zipping though, so all the results for an analysis were at least in one big file instead of creating a zillion little files to keep track of.)  In version 6 (aka GeoStudio 2004) were able to combine all products into one, letting you have a (single) SEEP/W analysis in the same file as a SLOPE/W analysis.  Version 7 (GeoStudio 2007) takes the final step, letting you have as many analyses as you want all in one file.

But with that added power comes added complexity.

GeoStudio 2007 tries to help you keep track of changes to all those analyses by indicating when an analysis may need to be re-solved.  It does that by showing a status of “solution out of date” next to some analyses in Tools – Solve Analyses.

Out of date analyses

But what really does “Solution out of date” mean?

It means that some values have changed which could affect the solution.  That’s rather vague.  Phrased another way, if you solve that analysis again, your results may be different from last time. 

More specifically, an analysis will NOT be out of date if all you’ve changed is sketch text or sketch lines, or if you changed a function or material or boundary condition that isn’t actually used by that analysis.  In the example above, I changed a material property that is obviously only used by the SLOPE/W analyses.

To find out exactly what changed, you can select an out of date analysis and click the Show Changes button.


Show Changes message

In this case I can see that I changed Phi from 34 to 33.

So what about the ‘*’ in the title bar?  What’s that?

Some people seem to confuse “solution out of date” with the “*” that shows up in the title bar from time to time.  The “*” is much dummer than the “solution out of date”.  All it means is that something (pretty much anything) has changed, so you may want to save your file.  When the “*” is there and you try to close GeoStudio, you’ll get prompted to save.  That’s all it means.  There’s no global “Show Changes” button, but if you click the arrow next to the Undo button in the toolbar you can see the last few changes that have been made.


The Undo list

I hope that demystifies how GeoStudio keeps track of changes.  Computers are not fast enough (yet!) for all your solutions to be automatically kept up to date, but with the clues you can gather from the Show Changes button you have enough information to know whether you need to solve an analysis again or leave it be.


labeling materials

Lori, one of our support engineers (and the lovely voice behind all our videos!), has had a rash of support calls and emails lately asking for this hidden feature.  In fact even she didn’t know this could be done until this week!  So she’s given me permission to reprint the instructions she sent to one user.

The problem people are having is labeling their drawing with the name of the materials used for each region.  It appears easy to do:  Sketch Text, Insert Field, select a material from the list (or click a region to automatically select its material, bet you didn’t know you could do that!), Insert, then click on the region to place the label. 

Looks good. 

Until you change the material applied to that region.  Or you switch to another analysis that happens to have a different material for the same region.  Then you realise all you did was create a label tied to a specific material, not tied to a specific region’s material.

The workaround isn’t hard, but it’s very hidden.

Here’s how Lori describes it:

For the functionality that I think you want, you need to go under the “Advanced” tab and expand the tree as shown below:

Geometry Items … Regions … Region # … Material … Name

The Advanced tab to get to the Material Name field

Then click Insert at the bottom and you’ll see the following dynamic sketch text field in the dialogue box:

The field for region 1’s material name.

Now move your cursor and click the left mouse button to place the material name on region #1 (since that’s the region # that we selected above).

This isn’t as onerous as it looks at first because there are some shortcuts or tricks you can use.

  • I would suggest that you first use View Preferences and ensure that the region # labels are on, so you know which region # you want to label.
  • Then, once you have created one dynamic sketch text field, you can leave the sketch text box open.  Hold the Ctrl key and click on the field in your Sketch Text edit box and change the region # (circled below) to be the next region # you want to label; then click the mouse again to place this new label on that region.

Rather than navigating the field tree again, just type in a new region number.

Again, if you have region # labels in view preferences turned on, it will be a very simple thing to create soil name labels.  Once created this way, if you add another analysis and change the material associated with a particular region, the material name should update.

Give it a try and let me know if you have any questions.  We may still work at making this feature more intuitive as others have requested it as well.

Thanks Lori for that tip!  Got any tips of your own?  Or something you find hard to do that you think I may be able to shed some light on?  Mention them in the comments and I may highlight them in a future blog entry.