Changes in the December 2014 Release

by Nate Hekman on December 11, 2014

This week we released version 8.14, or “GeoStudio 2012, December 2014 Release”.

We’re aiming to continue to provide useful improvements in every release to customers with annual maintenance. If your license includes maintenance through December 2014, then you can immediately upgrade to this release.

Take a look at the release notes for the full list of changes.  I want to highlight a few here that I personally find particularly interesting.

Engineering Improvements

SLOPE/W Root Finder

A new “Root Finder” algorithm can be selected in KeyIn Analyses – Advanced – Search Method. The search method available in version 8.13 and older was a linear technique that calculated the factor of safety values at several lambdas and then searched for a cross-over point.

The new root finding strategy forecasts the required percentage of the inter-slice force function (lambda) based on previous estimates using a non-linear function. This non-linear prediction can sometimes reduce the number of iterations required to find the converged lambda.

The Root Finder settings in KeyIn Analyses

You can see in the “Factor of Safety vs. Lambda” graph how the algorithm narrowed in on a solution and found where moment and force are within the tolerance that was set.  (I’ve highlighted the points to make them easier to see.)

A graph showing the root finder algorithm at work

GeoStudio Preview

The Preview of the next major release of GeoStudio has seen a number of changes.

It now handles AIR/W and CTRAN/W analyses (which are now first-class citizens, no longer needing to be connected to a SEEP/W analysis).

Particle tracking is no longer a feature exclusive to CTRAN/W:  you can now track particles in any analysis that contains data about air flow or water flow.

And much more, which you can read about in the GeoStudio Preview overview.

User Interface Improvements

Workflow – Dialogs that Stay Open

In the past, any time you switched between analyses, or went from Define view to Results view, any dialog you had open would close.

That can be tedious when you are trying to compare results between several analyses:  you go into Draw Graph, look at some numbers, switch to another analysis, click Draw – Graph and select the graph again, switch back and start all over.

Likewise if you want to assign a new material across several staged analyses for example, you go Draw Materials, click on a region, switch to a child analysis, click Draw – Materials again, select the material from the list, click the region, switch to the next analysis, and start over.

Now many such dialogs will stay open as you change analyses.  Draw Materials, click a region, change analyses, click a region, change analyses…

We weren’t able to do that for all dialogs yet, but we’ve picked the ones we felt would most benefit.  If we missed one that you feel would benefit from this as well, do let us know.


We’ve continued to make improvements around importing DXF files.  Many situations where in the past you would have to go back to AutoCAD or whatever application created the DXF, and make additional changes in order for it to be imported into GeoStudio, now those cases will import correctly.


When a DXF contains a cross-section that is not on the Z=0 plane, it used to come into GeoStudio “squished” (possibly squished right down to a line if we were looking at its edge), as GeoStudio would ignore the Z component.  Now GeoStudio will figure out the normal vector and rotate it before importing.

When a DXF is oriented in a “side-view” projection in AutoCAD instead of a “top-view”, or it was created by an application that orients cross-sections vertically, previous versions of GeoStudio would ignore the Z values, and the imported cross-section would appear as a single line of points.  This line was essentially the top edge of the cross section.

Incorrectly imported 3D DXF - we're looking at the edge of a 2D plane.


You could fix that in the past by opening the file in AutoCAD, rotating it, then re-importing.  But that’s not always an easy thing to do.  Now GeoStudio will align itself so it’s looking at the cross-section “face on” regardless of its 3D azimuth.  Here’s the same DXF imported in the December 2014 Release (with material colours added for clarity):

GeoStudio applied a transform to the polylines in the DXF so as to import it "face-on".

Closed Polygons

When importing a DXF as regions, in the past, GeoStudio would only import closed polylines.  I know that was a frustration to many people because it’s not always obvious in AutoCAD which polylines are marked as closed, and some applications don’t even have a way of controlling that property.  Now GeoStudio will include polylines where the first and last points are identical.  It also supports HATCH elements.

"There were no closed polylines found."  This error should appear less often, as now even "open" polylines will be converted to regions if they end on their starting point.

Apply Button

When you choose a DXF to import (either as regions or as a Sketch Picture), you’re faced with a somewhat daunting dialog box giving you options for adjusting the origin and scale to better fit the extents of the DXF.  It isn’t always clear what the effects of your choices will be.

We’ve added an Apply button so you can now experiment.  Check both boxes, hit Apply, and look at what it does to your page.  If you don’t like the result, edit one of the numbers and hit Apply again.  When you’re happy with it, you can close the dialog.

Use the Apply button to experiment with DXF import settings

Performance Improvements

A lot of effort was put into making GeoStudio “snappier”, especially when working with larger files (with a large number of analyses, lots of small regions, large meshes, etc.).  You should notice it taking less time to open files, for example.  When you click the Solve button, it should start solving much more quickly.  Switching from one analysis to another should be faster.

The screen should update more quickly as well.  That will be especially noticeable when you’re scrolling, zooming, or working over a remote desktop session.

Français and español join 中文(简体)

We’ve expanded the number of languages supported by GeoStudio.  GeoStudio 2007 introduced a Chinese version (thanks to our friends in China, CnTech).  And a couple of years ago we added Spanish to (parts of) GeoStudio 2012.

We have now completed the Spanish translation to include nearly everything in the software–only online help and the engineering manuals remain in English–and we automatically run in Spanish if your operating system’s language is Spanish.

GeoStudio en español

We also added a brand new French translation, which will be used automatically if your OS is French.

GeoStudio en français

We would love to hear some feedback about these translations.  Are they helpful?  Are they useless without also translating the online help, the engineering methodology books, our web site, or providing support in those languages as well?  Should we target additional languages?

I’m looking forward to seeing how much these languages get adopted.



New Tutorial Movies

by Nate Hekman on October 3, 2014

Keely, one of our engineers, has been busy lately expanding our stock of videos highlighting various GeoStudio features.

Some of the movies highlight new features found only in the preview of the next GeoStudio version, but others will be just as useful to GeoStudio 2012 users.

(Our web site still calls it the “GeoStudio 2014 Preview”, but I’ll just call it the “GeoStudio Preview” since 2014 is nearly over!)

Head over to the GeoStudio Preview Tutorial Movies page and take a look.

A few of my favourites include:

  • Setting Up a New Project – You have to do things backward when starting a new project in GeoStudio 2012: if you click one of the product icons on the Start Page, you’ve created an analysis before you had a chance to configure global settings like units and scale.  The GeoStudio Preview fixes that by putting you in the project settings first before creating an analysis.  Keely shows you how that’s done.
  • The Physics Tab – The next version of GeoStudio takes another big step toward merging all its products into one.  Instead of creating separate analyses for each “piece of physics” you want to analyze, you can create a single analysis and “turn on” the various physical processes you want to include.
  • Node Convergence – The same week Keely published this video, I got a support call from a customer looking for help with node convergence.  Great timing!


I love seeing others blogging about GeoStudio, even (or especially!) when I have to rely on Google Translate to understand what they said.

Here’s a tip from Filipe Fuscaldi about passing data from AutoCAD to GeoStudio:

He says our web site recommends exporting the CAD drawing to an image, importing that as a background picture, then drawing regions overtop.  Ouch!  I’ll have to find those outdated instructions and remove them, because as he correctly points out, there’s a much better way using the File – Import Regions command.

From Filipe Fuscaldi – Como passar do AutoCAD para GeoSlope?



1) Choose your profile on AutoCad.


2) Use the Boundary command (shortcut bo just type in the command line)




More Mesh Refinements

by Nate Hekman on October 23, 2013

In Meshing Efficiently, I touched briefly on different ways of refining your mesh.  After a question from a reader today I thought it would be worthwhile visiting this topic again.

Start by choosing Draw – Mesh Properties from the menu.  Set the global–or default–mesh size.  Then add constraints to specific pieces of the geometry to tweak the mesh size where necessary.

Global Element Size

Adjust the “default” mesh size across the entire domain by setting the Global Element Size.  We call this the approximate size because it’s just a guide to the meshing algorithm.


Constrain a Region

Click on a region to add a constraint to that region.  For example, here I’ve requested that the lower region have 0.5m element edges instead of the global 2m.  You can see that the lower region has uniform elements, whereas the top region starts out with 0.5m elements (we can’t have discontinuity between the two) but heads toward 2m elements the further away it is from the constraint.


Here’s a tip:  if your region is very small, it may be difficult to select it in order to add a constraint–you’ll end up selecting its lines or points instead.  Here I’m trying to select the region but only get the “line” cursor:


The solution is to zoom in.  The larger (visually) the region, the more “region” space you can click on.


Constrain a Line

Click on a line to add a constraint to that line.  This time elements along the line have 0.5m edges but get larger as they move away from the line.  The mesh in the upper region is unaffected.


If I put the constraint on the horizontal line instead, both regions’ meshes are affected since they both share that line.


Constrain a Point

Click on a point to give it a constraint.  The mesh is dense by that point but gets coarser the further away it gets.




July 2013 Beta

by Nate Hekman on July 19, 2013

We’ve just released a new beta of GeoStudio, in preparation for a real release later this summer, and I’d like to highlight a few of the new features that I especially like.

In any release cycle, we like to focus on improving specific areas of the software.  The two main areas of focus in this beta are SLOPE/W and licensing.


Slope analyses get a big boost in speed when running on multiple cores.  In particular we’ve fine-tuned analyses using optimization, and probabilistic analyses.  We’re finding our solve times are from twice to 10x as fast, depending of course on various factors.

One new Slope feature I particularly like is that Slope analyses can now be “chained”: you can solve one analysis using thousands of potential slip surfaces, identify the ten most critical, and then do a further analysis on just those ten slip surfaces.

Chained Slope analyses


Licensing is one of those necessary evils that nobody likes unless it “just works”. Unfortunately we continue to see many people frustrated when licensing does not work for them, and unable to figure out why it worked yesterday but today it tells me I have no license.

We’ve spent a lot of time over the past few months trying to make licensing more robust so that it “just works” more often, but we’re also better communicating problems and solutions when something does not work.

A more helpful license error


Instead of just saying you have no license (as previous versions often did), this error shows that you do indeed have a SLOPE/W and a Standard license, but both were unavailable for different reasons. The links at the bottom may help you resolve the problem (although in this case you should probably just plug in your USB key).


I’m very happy we finally support the more modern image formats! Our Sketch Pictures feature was added back when .bmp was the only raster image format on the block. We finally got around to welcoming .jpg, .gif, .png, and other modern formats. It even supports transparency, so your picture can overlap other objects:Adding a transparent png to your drawing


Try it out

These are a few of the changes in this beta, and a taste of what’s to come in the release later this year.

Remember the beta installs side-by-side with the release, so you can download and install this beta and still easily switch back to the stable release. I’d love it if you would take the time to try some of these new features and tell me about your experience, either by email or here on the blog.




2014 Preview – 1D analyses

by Nate Hekman on July 4, 2013

Let’s take a look at one of the new features of the GeoStudio 2014 Preview: performing a true 1D analysis.

In the past you could imitate a 1D analysis by simply defining a single column of regions and making sure to apply boundary conditions that only vary vertically (for a horizontal column). In fact we demonstrate that technique in an example file.

A 1D analysis in the 2014 Preview is truly a single dimension, which has a few important implications.

Dimensionality is Per-Analysis

It’s important to understand that the “dimensionality” is a per-analysis setting, set in KeyIn Analyses: in the same .gsz file, one analysis can be 1D while another is 2D. Furthermore, geometry (regions, lines and points) is always shared by all analyses in a .gsz file. It follows then that the geometry in a 1D analysis is a subset of that in a 2D analysis.

For example, run the 2014 Preview and open Convective Surface on Semi Infinite Domain. Go into KeyIn Analyses and select the first analysis, “small time steps”. Notice it is set to “2D”; note the boundary condition on the ground surface, and the material colour over the entire region.


Now move down to the second analysis, “using a 1D analysis”. The Analysis Dimension settings changes to 1D, the boundary condition is now applied to the point at the ground surface, the line has a material colour, and the region is greyed out.


The important point is that a 1D analysis is a simplification of a 2D analysis, just as a 2D analysis is a simplification of reality.

Good modeling practice is to start simple and add complexity as you gain understanding. In many cases that may mean starting with a 1D analysis and progressing to 2D only when (or if) you need to.

Materials and Boundary Conditions

As we noticed, in a 1D analysis, materials are applied to lines instead of regions. That’s reflected in the Draw Materials command:


Boundary conditions work similarly: they can be applied only to lines or points, not to regions in a 1D analysis.

Unit flux (“q”) boundary conditions are worth highlighting: most unit flux boundary conditions have a new optional “surface perimeter” field. If you leave that option off, then they will function as they always have in GeoStudio 2012 and older. In a 2D analysis, a “q” BC can be applied to a line or a region; in a 1D analysis, it can be applied to a point or a line. I’ll try to expand on that in a future blog post about the “surface perimeter”.


The best way to look at results of a 1D analysis is using Draw Graph to look at results over time or along a line:


or use View Result Information to see results at a specific node:



Some things to keep in mind when working with 1D analyses:

  • At the project level (in Set Units and Scale), the “View” must be set to “2-Dimensional” if you want to do a 1D analysis. Although that sounds counter-intuitive at first, bear in mind the “View” is setting the dimensionality of the entire project’s geometry. It doesn’t make sense to have a “1-dimensional axisymmetric” analysis.
  • Only TEMP/W does 1D analysis for now. Other products will follow in future previews, but for now you can’t do SEEP/W – TEMP/W convective 1D, for example, though I believe a 1D TEMP/W analysis should be able to get its initial conditions from a 2D VADOSE/W analysis if you really wanted to, or vice versa.
  • In this early Preview we have not yet implemented Draw Vectors, Draw Contours, or selecting gauss regions in View Result Information for 1D analyses, but those should be coming later.

 Your Voice

Remember the point of this Preview is to let you try it out and to hear your feedback. You can comment on this blog, or email support [at] geo-slope [dot] com. We are actively working on these features, so your ideas will be discussed right away and will influence the next release.


Flooding in Calgary

by Nate Hekman on June 27, 2013

If you’ve emailed, telephoned, or been by our web site in the last few days, you’ll have noticed things are not as they usually are around our office!

Normally dry Calgary was hit with an unusually high amount of rain this past weekend. Combined with an unusually high amount of snowmelt in the nearby Rocky Mountains, the normally picturesque Bow and Elbow rivers that meander through our downtown core (just blocks from our head office) overflowed their banks and flooded much of the city.

Of course all of us in the geotechnical world can immediately imagine the collapsed river banks and destroyed roads and bridges (and train derailments). Nearly 10% of the city’s population was displaced–and worse numbers in other smaller communities nearby.

Calgarians are proud of their reputation as volunteers, and our staff are no exception. Many of our staff are donating time and money helping displaced families in the area.

We were very lucky, our office did not sustain any damage, though some of our staff’s homes are flooded or in evacuated areas. We shut down some servers as a precaution over the weekend, but they are up and running again. There remains a small chance of an unannounced power failure.

The city is still in a State of Local Emergency, and likely will be for another week, and residents are asked to stay off the roads to give cleanup, repair and emergency crews the room they need to do their jobs. Those of us who are working are doing so remotely unless we are close enough to the office to walk or cycle in.

Through all of this chaos we are not forgetting you, our customers! We can access email and voice mail from home, so we are triaging your support calls and responding as quickly as we can. Thank you for your patience as we try to get back to normal routine.


GeoStudio 2014 Preview

by Nate Hekman on June 17, 2013

This week we’ve announced the GeoStudio 2014 Preview.  What in the world is that?

It’s the first time we’ve tried to release a “preview”, so this is new to us as well.  I’ll try to describe how we hope you use the preview.

A Glimpse of Things to Come

We’re thinking of a “preview” as “more than a beta, less than a release”.  It’s not a finished product yet–in fact there are some gaping holes we’ll be closing in future releases (for example, you can’t do TEMP/W-SEEP/W convective analyses)–but we’re very happy with the features that are complete.  A preview shows you the direction we’re heading, gives you an idea of what’s to come.

This particular preview, focused on TEMP/W, is able to elegantly solve some problems that the regular TEMP/W cannot–in particular with the new Land-Climate Interaction boundary condition and the revised Thermosyphon and Convective Surface boundary conditions.  It also includes a great new 1D analysis.  If your geothermal projects involve that type of thermal flux or are actually 1D analyses, you should definitely give the Preview a whirl.

How to Run the Preview

When you install the latest release, “GeoStudio 2012, June 2013 Release“, the 2014 Preview is installed along with it.  You’ll find a shortcut under your Start menu alongside the regular GeoStudio 2012 shortcut:

The GeoStudio 2014 Preview shortcut is installed with GeoStudio 2012

When you run the preview, you’ll see it looks very similar to GeoStudio 2012, but to help you recognize which version you’re running we’ve put the word “Preview” in the title bar, and made the menu and status bar blue.

The  GeoStudio 2014 Preview has visual differences to help you recognize which version you're running.

What’s Changed?

This pdf gives an overview of the new features in the preview.  I’ll post about a few specific features over the coming weeks.  But here’s a list to get you going:

  • 1D analyses
  • A new Land-Climate Interaction boundary condition
  • More rigorous implementations of Thermosyphon and Convective Surface boundary conditions
  • Work with functions in different units
  • Completely new solver, with better support for multi-core CPUs

Feedback Requested

A preview is also an opportunity for you to tell us what needs to change.  We’d love to hear what you like or dislike about the new features.  You can comment on this blog, or email support [at] geo-slope [dot] com.  We’re actively working on these features, so your ideas will be discussed right away and will influence the next release.


GeoStudio on Windows 8

by Nate Hekman on February 20, 2013

With the latest version of Windows released by Microsoft in the fall, we are getting more and more questions asking if GeoStudio will run on new computers running Windows 8.

I’m happy to say the answer is definitely YES!

We always aim to support the newest Windows version with the newest GeoStudio version.  GeoStudio 2012 is fully supported on Windows 8, and in fact it received the Windows 8 Compatible logo shortly after Windows 8 became publicly available.

Please note, however, that older versions of our software, such as GeoStudio 2007 and earlier, are only officially supported on the versions of Windows that existed when we were actively working on that product.  For example, GeoStudio 2007 is only supported up to Windows 7.

That’s not to say older GeoStudio versions won’t work on Windows 8–in fact I just fixed a bug this week that was preventing version 7 from starting up on Windows 8–but as we are not actively working on them, we can’t promise we’ll fix any Windows 8-specific bugs that show up.  If you use Windows 8, we recommend you upgrade to the latest release.


That said, here is my view of GeoStudio on Windows 8:

  • GeoStudio 2012: fully supported
  • GeoStudio 2007: the latest release should work (version 7.21), but no guarantees
  • GeoStudio 2004 and earlier: I haven’t tested them

If you’ve tried one of the older versions on Windows 8, please leave a comment and let us know your experience!



Docking Windows

by Nate Hekman on June 6, 2012

Let’s look at some of the new features in GeoStudio 2012 in more depth, and see what “insider information” I can give you that will make your day a little bit brigher.

I’ll start with the new “docking windows”, because you’ll find several of them already and I expect more will be showing up over time.  They should “just work”, but I’ll point out some hidden features along the way.

What is a Docking Window?

Docking windows are simply windows that can be “stuck” (or “docked”) to one side of the GeoStudio application.  They stay where you put them, but they are aware of whatever else is going on with the current file, so their content may change–the “Slip Surface” window, for example, will update with new factors of safety if you pick a new time step in the “Result Times” window.

By introducing docking windows in GeoStudio 2012, we hope to put more information about your analysis at your fingertips, and reducing the number of times you have to click through windows and menus and dialog boxes, so you can focus on your analysis.

Closing and Re-opening a Window

Closing a docked window is easy, just click the red ‘x’ in its corner.  Getting it back isn’t so obvious, but it’s just as easy:  use the Window menu.  (Or right-click in the empty space around the toolbars.)  The list of windows available under the Window menu will changed based on whether you’re in Define or Results view, and what type of analysis you’re working with.

Unpinning a Window

Next to the red ‘x’ is a “pin” icon.  Click the pin to toggle between “pinned” and “unpinned” states.  When a window is unpinned and you move your mouse away from it, it will slide out of view until you need it again, leaving only a small tab on the side of the screen.  Hover over this tab, and it slides out again.

Here’s the Analysis Explorer after it has slid out of the way:

Moving, Docking, and Tabbing a Window

You may want to move a docked window.  The Solve Manager window, for example, often reads better docked to the bottom of the screen instead the side.

To move a window, just click and drag its title bar.  (Note that the window must be pinned before you will be able to drag it.)  As you drag a window, you’ll see some markers overlaid on the GeoStudio window, to help in docking to another part of the screen.  As you move your mouse over these markers, more shading will appear, giving you an idea of where your window will go when you release the mouse button.

Near the edges of the main GeoStudio window you’ll see markers like this, which let you dock to the edge of GeoStudio.

In the middle of the main view you’ll see a marker like this, which lets you dock to the edge of the window you’re over.  Compare that to what we just tried above: in the former case the window would dock across the entire top of the GeoStudio window; in the latter, it only goes as wide as the Define view.  (The difference may be more obvious if you click on these images to see the whole screen.)


In the middle of another docking window you get a similar marker but with an additional target in the middle.  Drop on that middle target and the two docking windows will take up the same space, with tabs.

If you want to drag a window around without docking it, you can hold down the Ctrl key as you drag.

Floating a Window

Docking windows can also “float”–that is, they can be moved around independent of the main GeoStudio window.  Useful if you have two monitors, for example.

To float a window, you can double-click its title bar, or just drag it without dropping onto one of the targets.

Keyboard Access

Some people (like myself) prefer to use the keyboard as much as possible instead of a mouse.  You can switch focus to a docking window by using the Window menu.  To solve an analysis without reaching for your mouse, for example, you could use these keyboard shortcuts:

  1. Alt-W, S (for “Window” – “Solve Manager”; we just switched focus to the Solve Manager)
  2. Down-arrow / up-arrow to scroll to the analysis you want to solve, then spacebar to select or clear the checkbox (or use Ctrl-A to select all analyses)
  3. Alt-R to Start

Watch the Movie

One of our engineers has made a short movie clip demonstrating some of these techniques, which you can watch here.