Aquaveo & Water Resources Engineering News

5 Ways to Make Projects Work Faster

Have you ever noticed your SMS project taking a long time to open or running slow when you’re working in it? Does the project seem to lag when zooming or panning? Perhaps it is time to clean up your project so it runs faster.

While not every project can be made to load or work faster, there are some items that can be done to speed things up. In general, a project that takes a long time to open or operates slowly is usually a larger project with many large components. Having a detailed mesh or large raster files will often slow down SMS on many machines.

To get things going faster, here are five tips for making your project work faster.

1. Change Display Options

Having more objects visible in the Graphics Window will impact how quickly SMS can operate. When SMS is trying to display a lot of data, it will slow down. By reducing the amount of visual information in the Graphics Window, SMS can process faster. This can be done in two ways.

The first method is to hide items in the Project Explorer, such as images or map coverages that are not being currently used. Having several images and rasters showing can particularly slow down a project.

The second method is to open the Display Options dialog and turn off options that are not needed. Contours and vector displays and displaying mesh elements can particularly slow down SMS. Keeping the total number of active display options to a minimum when working with large projects can speed things up for you.

Finally, when opening a large project or file, turning off all or nearly all of the display options can reduce the time it takes to open.

2. Remove Unnecessary Files

Does your project have a lot of data in it? There is a chance that this is slowing things down. Removing files that are no longer needed from the project can help.

If you have already interpolated your elevation data to your mesh or grid, then that data can be removed. If you have a dynamic image in your project, SMS will update the image every time you zoom or pan. Replacing the dynamic image with a static image and removing the dynamic image will speed things up. Shapefiles can also be removed from the project once you’ve interpolated or converted their data.

3. Resample Rasters

Having a large raster or lidar file is not really that unusual. However, having a 10 gigabyte (or larger) file loaded into your project will make SMS run slower. In many cases, all of the data contained in these large files isn’t necessary for the model to run and obtain accurate results.

Resampling the raster to a lower resolution can help. If the raster has already been loaded into SMS, right-click on the raster in the Project Explorer and select Export to resample it. When done resampling and adding the resampled image, remember to remove the original file from the project.

SMS uses a simple resample process. For more controlled application of rasters, other software can be used.

4. Refine the Mesh or Grid

Are you working with a detailed mesh or grid with a lot of elements? While fine detailed meshes and grids are sometimes needed, only certain parts of the mesh or grid may need those details. The rest of the mesh or grid can have larger elements without affecting the accuracy of the project.

For example, when using a mesh for a riverine model, fine elements are generally only needed around the channel and structures. The mesh will often still be suitable using larger elements further away from these key areas.

5. Keep the Number of Simulations Small

Having a lot of simulations in one project file is tempting. For models that use the simulation process, such as SRH-2D, there is no limit to the number you can create.

However, for each simulation in your project file, SMS has to load that instance of the simulation. While all of your simulations may use the same geometry, items such as the model parameters will have been duplicated and increase the file size.

Therefore, when possible, it is best to limit the number of simulations in the project. You may want to create copies of your project then only include simulations in each project that share a particular variable. For example, one project file might have simulations with 10 year predictions while another project file has simulations with 100 year predictions.

Try out any of these tips with your SMS projects today!

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5 Ways to Select Arcs in GMS

Everyone knows you can select an arc in GMS by using the Select Arcs tool and clicking on the desired arc. But did you know there are five different ways to select one or more arcs? Here’s a quick rundown of all of them:

  1. Use the Select Arcs tool to click on a single arc. This is the most common way to select an arc, but it only allows you to select one at a time. If you have multiple arcs you need selected, there are better, more efficient ways to select them.
  2. Use the Select Arcs tool while pressing the Shift or Ctrl key to select multiple specific arcs. This allows you to select only the desired arcs for whatever purpose you wish. This method includes all of the precision of the first method, but can take a long time if you have many different arcs to select. The next three methods allow you to more quickly select larger numbers of arcs.
  3. Use the Select Arcs tool to drag a box around multiple arcs to select them. All arcs where both nodes of the arc are contained within the box wil be selected. Arcs where one node is outside of the box will not be selected. The click and drag method provides a quick method for selecting multiple arcs, but is not as accurate.
  4. Use the Select All command in the Edit menu to select all the arcs in the project. Just make sure to have the Select Arcs tool selected first so GMS knows what to select. The Unselect All command can be used to deselect everything when you’re done, if desired.
  5. The Select With Poly command in the Edit menu lets you draw out a polygon around the arcs you want selected. Keep in mind that both ends of an arc must be within the polygon in order for it to be selected.

Try out these options today in the GMS Community Edition.

Edit: This post was updated on 7/20/2018 to correct information in methods 2 and 3.

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Using Software Graphics Mode

Have you ever noticed in your Start Menu that GMS, SMS, and WMS all have a version of the software executable that says "Software Graphics Mode"? Do you wonder what this is used for?

The software graphics mode was created to help resolve issues when there is a mismatch between the XMS software and the graphics card on a computer running the software. While we work to have XMS function on a wide range of graphics cards, some graphics cards do not support current versions of XMS.

When there is a mismatch, you might experience difficulty running the software. Issues we’ve seen happen include:

  • Having objects disappear from the Graphics Window when drawing new objects.
  • When changing views, objects in the Graphics Window disappear completely when they should still be visible.
  • Objects that appear in the Graphics Window that cannot be hidden or removed.
  • In some cases, the XMS application will not start.
  • In other cases, the XMS application will close suddenly.

Using the software graphics mode causes the machine running the XMS application to bypass the graphics card. Think of it as “safe mode” for XMS. Doing this places a heavier burden on the machine’s memory and processor, but it typically allows the XMS application to be used without the problems being caused by the graphics card.

To access the software graphics mode, go to your Start Menu and select the desired XMS executable with "Software Graphics Mode" in the title.

If using the software graphics mode resolves the issue you were experiencing, there is still one more thing to do: update your graphics card drivers.

Updating your graphics card drivers often resolve the issues being caused by the mismatch between the XMS application and the graphics card. Follow the standard procedure for updating the graphics card drivers for your operating system. In some cases, you will need to go to the graphic card manufacturer's website to update the drivers.

Once the graphic card drivers have been updated, you can usually continue to use the XMS application without using the software graphics mode.

And if updating the graphics card drivers doesn’t work, do not hesitate to contact Aquaveo Support for additional help.

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