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.

hardware recommendations

One of our users asked me recently for advice on picking the best hardware configuration to run GeoStudio.  His office was buying new computers for their engineers and since they used GeoStudio heavily they wanted the best possible configuration within their budget.

The System Requirements on our web site are obviously pretty basic.  And they don’t tell you where you should spend that extra budget to really get the most bang for your buck.  Here are my suggestions.


GeoStudio 2007 is multi-threaded, meaning it will take full advantage of multiple CPUs or cores.  Don’t worry too much about processor speed: get at least a dual-core CPU and your solves will be nearly twice as fast.  The improvement will be more obvious the larger your typical mesh sizes.  Here’s a graph to give you a rough idea of the speed improvements additional processors will give you.

speed gain by number of processors

GeoStudio 2004, on the other hand (version 6), is not multithreaded, so additional CPUs will not typically help unless you’re running two analyses at the same time.

Additionally, GeoStudio is optimized for 32-bit CPUs.  You may as well get 64-bit CPUs and a 64-bit OS because that’s the way the industry is headed, but that won’t translate into better performance with GeoStudio today.


After investing in a dual-core CPU, the next biggest bang for your buck will be memory.  With the price of memory these days you shouldn’t use less than 2 GB.  Go with 4 GB if you can.  Large meshes use lots of memory, and if you don’t have enough RAM then your operating system will be swapping data back and forth between disk and RAM, which will really slow things down.


Any self-respecting graphics card with basic 2D acceleration will be able to handle GeoStudio’s graphics just fine.  Until we get into 3D, you don’t need to worry about your graphics card.  (Note that Seep3D is a whole other question–it definitely needs a good OpenGL-accelerated card.  But that’s beyond the scope of this blog.)


CPU and RAM are obvious.  But these days process and memory are getting so fast that they are less likely to be the bottleneck any more.  The next place to spend money is on a fast hard drive.

If you’ve used version 4 or earlier of our products, you’ll remember the hundreds of files a typical solve would spit out.  It’s only gotten worse!  With version 5 we introduced the .*z files (.slz for slope, .sez for seep, etc), which just hid the mess of files in one zip file.  Version 6 changed that to a .gsz, which combined all the files for several different analyses into one zip file.  And version 7 is worse yet since you can have as many analyses as you want all in the same .gsz file.  While the solver is running it is reading and writing and zipping and unzipping at each iteration and time step.  Contour isn’t quite as bad as Solve since it’s not writing results, but it still has to read a lot of data.

Scott Guthrie recommends programmers buy faster hard drives, but his advice is appropriate for GeoStudio users too.

Laptops:  Most laptops come by default with a 5400rpm drive, which is pretty slow.  Consider spending another $55-$100 to upgrade to 7200rpm instead.

Desktops:  Desktops normally ship with 7200rpm drives.  I recommend getting 10,000rpm or higher instead.  It could also be beneficial to go with a RAID 0 striped configuration, which splits data across multiple drives, lowering the seek time.


CPU and RAM are still the most important ingredients in a fast computer, but it’s the number of CPUs that counts, not the speed.  And if you still have money left over in your budget, get yourself the fastest hard drive you can afford.  You won’t regret it.

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.