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.

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!

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.