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  I’ll have to find those outdated instructions and remove them, because as he correctly points out, there’s a much better way using the File – Import Regions command.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.


Shell Extensions

by Nate Hekman on May 16, 2012

Last week we quietly slipped out a new download called Shell Extensions (Beta) on the GeoStudio 2012 Downloads page.  I hope that eventually this functionality will be merged into our regular GeoStudio setup so that everyone gets it automatically, but for now you have to download and install it separately if you want the extra features.

What Are Shell Extensions?

“Shell Extensions” help Windows do nice things with a particular kind of file (.gsz files in our case), like showing thumbnails, previews, searching, and so on.

Without Extensions

If you just install GeoStudio 2012 and NOT the shell extensions, you get some basic integration that we all just expect to work.  (Though sometimes we don’t realize how much effort it took a programmer to make it “just work”!)

Icons:  Gsz files get a nice icon.

Open:  Double-click a gsz file, or right-click and choose Open, and it opens in the GeoStudio.

Open With:  If you have 2007 and 2012 both installed on the same computer, you can right-click a gsz file and choose the Open with menu and you can choose to open the file with whichever version of GeoStudio you want.

New GeoStudio Document:  Right-click in a folder and choose the New menu, then GeoStudio Document, and you get a new blank gsz file (using whatever template you’ve selected as your default).

With Extensions

Now download and install the shell extensions.  (Go ahead, I’ll wait for you).  This is what you get:

File properties:  Windows Explorer will display several properties of the gsz file, including:

  • Authors:  the person who first created the file
  • Last saved by:  the person who last saved the file
  • File version:  the file format version (beginning to be more useful now that we support saving as older file formats, but also helpful so you know whether to open the file with 2007 or 2012, for example)
  • Tool version:  the version of GeoStudio that saved the file
  • Revision number:  incremented every time the file is saved–useful for making sure two people are looking at the same version of the file.
  • Title:  the “title” of the document
  • Comments:  the document’s comment field.

The properties are displayed in various places, mostly in Windows Explorer.  For example:

Select any gsz file and the summary pane (at the bottom of the window) will display many of these properties.

In “Details View” you can add properties as new columns.

In “Content View” the author and version are shown.

Right-click a gsz file and choose Properties, then go to the Details tab to see them all.

Many of these properties can be seen and/or edited in GeoStudio by going to KeyIn Analyses and selecting the root item.

Searching:  Use Windows Explorer or the Start button to search for gsz files using any of those properties (e.g., “author: nate” to find files I’ve created) or search for text from the contents of the gsz (e.g., “slip surface projection”).  The searchable contents of gsz files include the file comments, analysis comments, and names of any objects (analyses, materials, boundary conditions, etc).

Thumbnails:  Windows Explorer will show a thumbnail of the gsz file when it has enough room.

Preview:  Open the Preview pane and select a gsz file to see a preview of it.  (The preview is the same as the thumbnail, only larger.)

Microsoft Outlook will even preview gsz file attachments.

Works for GeoStudio 2007 Too!

You don’t need to have GeoStudio 2012 installed to make use of the shell extensions.  You can see properties, preview, search, all that good stuff, with any gsz file, no matter the version.

Looking for Testers

The shell extensions are still in beta because it’s difficult to anticipate all the different operating systems, hardware, languages, combinations of GeoStudio versions, security policies, and many other variables that affect how they work in real life.  I’d love to hear from you!  If you can spare a couple of minutes, please install them (there’s the link again!) and leave a comment about your experience or any suggestions to improve them.