I was planning on announcing GeoStudio 2012 on this blog, but now it has been out for two months, and I had to have a reader prod me to comment on it. *Sigh*
It’s been a busy couple of years working on the latest version of GeoStudio, but now that it’s out I hope I can get back to regular blogging about new features.
Perhaps the most important change in GeoStudio 2012 is not in the software itself, but in how we deliver it. Our goal is to provide frequent updates throughout the year, with new features as well as bug fixes coming out every couple of months.
Traditionally, software gets released once and then you don’t hear from the company again for a couple of years while they work on the next version, and that is how we have worked in the past as well. The problem with that approach is that early in that silent period we’ve worked on some great new features but we can’t let anyone use them because we have to save them up for the next version. We frequently have intense discussions about “is it a bug or is it a feature”, because we would allow bug fixes to be released mid-stream but features had to wait.
Now we can avoid those discussions and really focus every month on the top priorities, whether they are bugs or new features, and customers on the annual maintenance plan get to take advantage of the changes as soon as they are implemented.
Our focus with GeoStudio 2012 was on getting out of the way. You spend too much time closing windows, changing some mode, then re-opening the same window, instead of being able to focus on the engineering model itself. We’re trying to find all those pain points and smooth them out.
One way we’re doing that is by adding docking windows. In SLOPE/W, for example, the Slip Surfaces window is always there, and you can pick a different slip surface at any time, whatever else you’re doing. Similarly the finite element products show all the Result Times and let you pick a new one without having to close your graph window or whatever else you were looking at.
We noticed that solving took a lot of clicks:
- Tools – Solve Analyses
- “Yes” I want to save changes.
- (optionally) select the analyses to solve
- (optionally) close the Solver window when it’s done
- Close the “Solve Analyses” dialog
- Window – CONTOUR
Phew! Then of course if you don’t like the results you click to go back to DEFINE, make a couple of changes, and go through those 7 steps again.
In GeoStudio 2012, the Solve Manager is a docking window that you can leave around all the time, so solving looks like this:
- (optionally) select the analyses to solve
- click “Start”
GeoStudio will automatically switch to Results View (previously known as CONTOUR) as soon as it starts solving, and will show results as soon as they’re available (even before it finishes solving).
Save As 2007
You can create a file in GeoStudio 2012 and save it as a GeoStudio 2007 file. This is something you’ve been asking for for years, and I’m very happy to announce it’s finally possible. This will allow you to upgrade only some of your licenses, or to work with partners who have not yet upgraded.
Of course there are caveats–if you use new engineering features in 2012 and save to 2007, of course GeoStudio 2007 doesn’t know anything about the new features so they will be lost. But if you stick with the 2007 feature set, you should be able to exchange files without too much trouble.
We have always made sure new GeoStudio versions could open files created by older versions (in fact you can a PC-SLOPE file if you want, from the days before Windows). But now we can finally go the other way around.
I don’t normally talk about strictly engineering features, because that is outside my area of expertise, but I’ll mention a couple of the features our engineers are most proud of.
In the finite element products, our engineers have changed the convergence schemes, and as a result many analyses can be solved more quickly; many analyses that used to run into convergence problems will solve more reliably; and (they say) the new convergence scheme is easier to understand and troubleshoot. This is all way over my head but it sounds great!
Solver speed has been improved across the board, and several analyses can be solved simultaneously to better take advantage of today’s multiple cores.
I’ve touched on a few of the big changes today, but of course there are many more. I’ll try to get back to weekly blogs focusing on specific features and giving more of my insider tips.
If any of you are using GeoStudio 2012 already, leave a comment and tell us your experience so far.