Exploring Display Themes in SMS

SMS has an expansive suite of display options that allows you to visualize your results with style and clarity. What’s more, SMS has tools that can streamline how you adjust display options. Have you ever wanted to be able to adjust display options in SMS without actually opening the Display Options dialog? Have you contoured a dataset to your liking and now want to save those particular contour settings to return to them quickly? Display themes make these things possible. Today we discuss the uses of display themes as well as considerations to keep in mind while using them.

Display themes have several uses. Imagine a project where you want to quickly navigate between two different parts of the project. Display themes can be used to save view options, so you can jump back and forth between opposite ends of the project by clicking on the display theme in the Project Explorer.

Example of Display Themes in SMS

Display themes also allow you to develop a unique set of contours for each dataset. You can build a display theme that automatically comes on every time a certain dataset is activated. If you save only contours in that display theme, then you have essentially tailored specific contours to turn on when the dataset is active. This allows each dataset to have unique contours.

Finally, if you get a shot of the project that you want to return to easily, you can set up a display theme to save almost all the display options. Display themes can save everything from the angle of the Graphics Window to the visibility of different items. However, even a display theme that saves all possible options does not guarantee producing the same view every time.

For example, the active dataset selected in the Project Explorer will affect the visuals. Selecting a display theme does not adjust the active dataset even if selecting certain datasets activates certain display themes. Furthermore, the display themes will not display any data that has been deleted in the Project Explorer. Please be aware of the various settings and actions besides the specified display options that can affect your graphics.

Depending on how you set up your display themes, selecting one can cause an unexpected change in what appears when looking at another display theme. Therefore, the order in which you select display themes can change the view you end up with, depending on what you have saved in each display theme.

How can you optimize your use of Display Themes? You might start by keeping them organized in folders in the Project Explorer. You can also label them with names that help you remember what display options got saved in each display theme. For examples of how this might be done, refer to the tutorials relating to display themes.

Assigning one group of display options to save with each display theme can make display themes more useful and precise. Display themes with one group of settings saved allow you to make quick, specific changes to the display. In this way, display themes become like shortcuts for adjusting the display options. To make sure that the display theme is only saving the desired display options, uncheck all the checkboxes except the desired checkbox in the Display Theme Properties dialog.

Getting the right display options can help you communicate your results more effectively, and display themes can make your display options more agile. Check out display themes in SMS today!

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Recovering SMS Projects Using Temp Files

Rarely,SMS project files don’t save correctly. Various errors can cause this: for example, running out of processing power when saving a large project. Fortunately, there are multiple ways to recover SMS files that don't save correctly. One possible way is using the temp files created during the saving process.

SMS creates temp files that hold the information from the SMS file while the original files get rewritten. When an SMS project saves under normal conditions, the temp files are quickly erased. In many projects, if watching in the File Explorer, you won't even see them appear. However, if the SMS file fails to save correctly, the SMS temp files and folders may remain. If they are still available, they can be used to recover the project.

To recover an SMS project from available temp files and folders, do the following:

  1. Identify the temporary *.sms project file, the data folder, and the models folder. They are located in the same folder as the project file and its accompanying folders. Each of these temp files has a time stamp at the end of the file name. The timestamp corresponds to the time at which they were created, which is the minute the project began to save.
  2. Move these files/folders (there should be three of them) away from the original project folder. Ensure that they all end up in the same folder. Moving the temp files ensures that SMS doesn’t get confused about which data it's supposed to load when you open the *.sms project folder. This is important because the temp files are going to become the new project files.
  3. Rename all of the temp files and folders, so they follow the normal SMS naming conventions. When done, they should appear as follows:
    • "ProjectName.sms"
    • "ProjectName_data"
    • "ProjectName_models"
Temp files for SMS

If the temp files don't get renamed according to the naming conventions, it's likely that SMS will have trouble reading the information. Renaming the temp files usually only requires that you erase the time stamp at the end of the file/folder name. Some projects will not have the temp model folder.

  1. Open the new ProjectName.sms file in SMS to verify everything imports correctly and looks good. We strongly recommend a thorough review of the project prior to continuing to work with it.
  2. Adjust the project to ensure stability. Cleaning up your project and removing unnecessary data can help reestablish stability for your project. This makes it less likely for the project to save incorrectly in the future.

Please remember that these files were created before the most recent save was complete. This means that they cannot have the information that was supposed to be saved in the save that failed.

Unfortunately, a project saving incorrectly does not guarantee that the temp files will still exist. As soon as you realize your project might have saved or might be saving incorrectly, go in search of the temp files. There is no guarantee as to how long they will be available, so copy them to a new directory as soon as possible if they are still available.

There are other ways to rebuild SMS projects. If you have a file that saved incorrectly, but you can't find the temp files, refer to the wiki for further instructions or contact Aquaveo technical support ( With added confidence that you can recover project files, build a model in SMS today.

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Using the SMS Toolbox History Tab

The SMS toolbox has a lot of tools to suit your modeling needs, from adjusting ADCIRC levees to calculating a Manning's n dataset. In some cases you might need to run one of these tools repeatedly with only slight modifications to the settings. The History tab of SMS's toolbox can make that process a lot simpler. This article discusses how the History tab of the Toolbox dialog facilitates your use of the SMS toolbox.

The History tab of the Toolbox dialog saves each run in the current project of each tool from the SMS toolbox. From the History tab, you can open any tools that have been run in the currently open project with the settings from that run. To do so, select the Toolbox macro, then the History tab of the Toolbox dialog. The tool runs are categorized under folders labeled with the date on which they were run. The History tab also displays the input and output for each tool. That information can be accessed by clicking the arrow to the left of the tool. To open the tool with the settings from a given run, select that run from the History tab.


There are lots of situations in which the History tab might be useful. For example, it's possible that you need to trim several coverages with the same trimming coverage, the same buffer distance, and the same trimming option. Once you've run the Trim Coverage tool the first time, you can navigate to the History tab of the Toolbox dialog and select the run of the tool that you just completed. Once in the Trim Coverage dialog again, all you have to do is edit any settings that need to be changed for this specific run. From there, you can run the tool because all the other settings needed were saved from the last run.

But what if you've run many tools in this project, and you can't find the tool run you're looking for? Wouldn't it be easier to just specify the settings in the tool again? Possibly, but you don't have to dig through each run of every tool trying to figure out which run was which. The History tab of the Toolbox dialog has a search function that can search the input and output parameters for every tool in the History tab. It narrows down the tool runs to the ones that have information matching your search. So if you remember the name of an input coverage (or any other option), you can get a lot closer to finding the tool run you are looking for.

Note that the History tab of the Toolbox dialog saves information in the project you are currently working on. This means that the project always has a history of the tools that have been run in it. However, it also means that the tool history information doesn't transfer between two projects.

In sum, the SMS toolbox gives you tools for automating certain tasks in your SMS project; the History tab of the Toolbox dialog helps you save time while using these tools. Try out the SMS toolbox in SMS 13.2 today!

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Organizing Project Files in SMS 13.2

Like most other data in Windows, SMS project files save into a directory that can be accessed via the Windows File Explorer. In SMS 13.2, the main project file gets saved with the ".sms" extension and most of the data and model information gets saved inside folders that appear alongside this main project file. The SMS file depends on those other files for the information about the project, and it will be incomplete without them. Comparison of file organization between SMS 13.2 and SMS 13.1

The names of the folders that appear next to the SMS project file depend on what kind of model is being built in SMS. For example, when an SRH-2D simulation is saved, a folder appears next to the SMS project file titled with the name of the tutorial followed by "_models." Additionally, some model will create an additional model folder with necessary components. For example, if a TUFLOW model is saved in the project, a folder named "TUFLOW" appears. For every SMS project file created by SMS 13.2, there is a folder created alongside it that starts with the name of the tutorial and ends with "_data".

The project folder needs every file created alongside it in order to be complete. This means it's essential to move all the files relevant to the project at once. SMS has a feature that "packages" the entire project for you. This feature facilitates keeping the files together when transferring the project to a different computer or a different user. To use this feature, select the File | Save As Package command in SMS. It puts all the contents of the project into a ZIP file that can then be moved to another location. When the ZIP file is unzipped in a different location, all of the necessary components for the project will be present and ready to use.

Now, while most of the data gets saved in two folders alongside the project, there are some files that get saved outside of those folders in the same folder as the project itself. If you are going to move the project without saving it as a package first, then remember to move every file pertinent to the package to the new location. We recommend saving each project in a separate folder to keep clear what information is relevant to a particular project.

It needs to be noted that when you are saving SMS files, the Windows character path length limit of 256 characters will apply. In order to make certain that SMS can access component files and subfolders for a project, SMS has a 150 character limit for the path length. This includes both the character in the project file name and the character of all folders leading to the project file.

Check out the project file organization in SMS 13.2 today!

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