selection in draw graph

Graphing of results in CONTOUR was really showing its age in GeoStudio 2004.  In fact it had hardly changed since SEEP/W version 1 way back when Windows was first released, other than adding additional parameters you could graph.

I’m excited about how the graphing feature has changed in GeoStudio 2007.  I’ll take the next couple of weeks to describe it, but I’ll start this week with describing how you select data to graph, to continue the selection theme (see “selection in keyin lists“, and “mouse selection“).

Data Source

When creating a graph, one of the first things to do is to select where you want the data to come from.  You can graph data from nodes or gauss regions, convergence data, or other sources depending on what kind of analysis you’re performing.

The “Data from” selection

We’ll just take a look at Nodes today because I want to describe how to select nodes.  The other data sources generally don’t have any selection at all, or let you select from a list.

Set Locations

After picking “Nodes” you need to choose which nodes.  We call that the “Location” of the data, so you click the “Set Locations…” button.

The Graph window disappears to clear up room for you to select on your drawing, and is replaced by a smaller box.

The “Set Locations” dialog box

Here you can choose whether you want to select “Geometry Items” or “Custom Locations”.  “Geometry Items” is the simplest–it lets you pick regions, lines and points.  “Custom Locations” is the most powerful, letting you pick any coordinates you want.

Geometry Items

To pick geometry items, you use the same selection techniques we discussed last month:

  • Click on any point to select it.  The data will come from the node under that point.
  • Click on any line to select the entire line.  The data will come from each node under the line.
  • Click on any region to select the entire region.  The data will come from each node in the region.

And of course all the multi-selection techniques work too:

  • Drag a rectangle and any points, lines or regions fully contained in the rectangle will be selected.
  • Hold down Shift and click twice and any points or lines between the two clicks will be selected.
  • Hold down Ctrl while selecting something and it will be added to the current selection.
  • Hold down Ctrl and click on something already selected, and it will be removed from the selection.

Custom Locations

What if you want to graph data from a specific coordinate but there’s no point there to select?  Maybe not even a node?  Or what if you want graph along an arbitrary line, but you want to experiment with different mesh configurations?

Enter Custom Locations.

Custom Locations de-couple graphing from how the geometry is defined.  You can pick any point, line, rectangle, or combination thereof.  If a node exists at the location you want, the graph will use data computed at the node.  If no node exists data will be interpolated from the nearest nodes to get a reasonable estimate.

  • Click anywhere to graph at a point.  If you’re near (within a few pixels) a node, the node will be selected, otherwise the graph will interpolate from the nearest nodes.

Selecting an arbitrary coordinate

  • Hold down Shift and click two coordinates to graph along a line.  The graph will contain data for every point where your line crosses an element edge or a node.

Selecting an arbitrary line in space

  • Drag a rectangle.  The graph will contain data for every node in the rectangle.

Selecting an arbitrary rectangle

And again you can use the multi-selection techniques to combine the above.  Hold down Ctrl while clicking, shift-clicking, or dragging a rectangle and the new locations will be added to the existing ones.

Multiple selection

When you’re done selecting where data will come from, click the “Show Graph…” button to go back to the main Draw Graph view.  I’ll look more at what Draw Graph can do next week.

selection in keyin lists

I referred to this briefly in last week’s blog about mouse selection, but on further reflection I think it’s important enough to give it its own article: the KeyIn dialog boxes let you interact with the drawing too.

Graphical Selection 

Take KeyIn Boundary Conditions for example.

KeyIn Boundary Conditions with too many similar items

Here I want to edit the pressure on the left side of my dam, but I have six boundary conditions, all of them are red, and I didn’t do a good job of naming them.  I can tell by the symbol it isn’t one of the standard Fixed BCs but how can I remember which of the other three it is?

Easy.  Instead of selecting an item in the list, click on the edge of the dam itself.  As your mouse approaches it the cursor changes to the “Line Selection” cursor, indicating that there’s something you can click on.  When you click, it figures out you’ve clicked on the “Reservoir pessure” boundary condition and selects it in the list.

Multiple Selection

Most lists in GeoStudio (such as the list of BCs above) also support multiple selection, allowing you to change properties on more than one item at a time.

In my example above I have two “Reservoir pressure” BCs because I’m running some experiments.  They’re both Fluid Pressure with the same elevation but different gamma values.  I can select both, change the elevation one time, and both will have the new elevation while retaining all their other properties (gamma, name and colour).

When more than one item is selected, you’ll notice those fields where each item has different values will be blank; where every item has the same value the value will be displayed.

Multiple selection in a list

Multi-selection in lists follows the standard Windows approach:  ctrl-clicking (holding down the Ctrl key while you click) items in a list will add to the selection; ctrl-click a selected item to unselect it; shift-click to select a range of items (everything between your previous click and this one); double-click any item (or press Ctrl-A) to select everything.

And of course you can use the single selection, line selection and rectangular selection techniques we saw last week to graphically select straight from the drawing.

mouse selection

Continuing with last week’s theme of efficient use of your mouse, this week I’ll show the three ways to select things with the mouse.

There are three ways to select objects on your drawing:  single selection, line selection and rectangular selection.

Single Selection

This is the obvious one that everyone knows:  click on an object to select it. 

Note, though, that in some modes you also have to pick what type of object you’re going to select.  In Draw Materials, for example, you first pick from the dialog box whether you want to assign the material to regions or to lines.

Draw Materials

Line Selection

Line selection is probably the least obvious one, but it can be very helpful.  Hold down the Shift key and click once.  Continue holding the Shift key and you’ll see a dashed line following your mouse around.  Click a second time to complete the selection.  Everything on the line between the two clicks will be selected.

Line selection (also referred to as “shift-selection”) is especially useful for selecting points or lines along an angled surface.  For example, drawing boundary conditions on a slope.  (This was even more useful in v6 and older versions where you were applying BCs to the nodes, without the luxury of being able to simply click on a the line.)

Using line selection to apply a boundary condition

Rectangular Selection

Rectangular selection is another common one most of you will be familiar with.  Drag a rectangle (click the left mouse button and move the mouse without releasing the button) around the objects you want to select.  Any object that is completely contained by the rectangle will be selected.

It’s mostly because of rectangular selection that some modes (like Draw Materials) force you to choose what you want to select.  Since materials can be applied to regions or to lines, if you dragged a rectangle around a couple of regions we need to know whether your intent is to apply the material to those couple of regions or to all the lines.

All of the Draw modes support these three basic selection types, as does Modify Objects.  Even some of the KeyIn dialogs support graphical selection–try KeyIn Materials, for example, and click on a region in your drawing.  Draw Graph supports even more advanced selection, but that will be a topic for some other time.

Do you have any tricks you’ve learned that help you make the most of GeoStudio?  Leave a comment so we can all benefit!

using your mouse wheel

Knowing how to use your mouse wheel can make you more efficient in a graphically-oriented application like GeoStudio.  The more you can do with your mouse, the less time is spent moving your hand from your mouse to your keyboard.


In GeoStudio, like AutoCAD, the mouse wheel can be used for zooming.  Spin the wheel up to zoom in, or down to zoom out. 

Furthermore, whatever point your mouse is over will remain in that spot, while the rest of the drawing zooms in or out around it.  That makes it very easy to zoom in to a point of interest, then zoom out and back in to another point without having to touch the scrollbars or toolbars.


Your mouse wheel can also function as a third button.  It’s often referred to as the “middle mouse button”.  Press it over a GeoStudio window and your cursor will change to a “hand”.  Keep it pressed while dragging the mouse and your drawing will move.  It’s the same as using the scrollbars except you can move horizontally and vertically at the same time.  (And arguably more intuitive!)


Long before context menus became standard, we used the right mouse button to exit the current drawing mode.  That’s still the case in the main window–right clicking will nearly always exit the current mode or close the current dialog box. 

Within other windows, however, like Draw Graph or KeyIn Materials, right-clicking will display a context menu of useful commands.

Some people prefer the keyboard, so we make sure that the mouse is never required to get a job done (except for actually drawing something on the screen–it’s tough to get around that one!), but if you’re a mouser, these tips will put you on the road to efficient modeling.


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.

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.