Friday, April 27, 2007

FDS Beta Testing


Since my plea last week for more participation in the FDS 5 beta test, I am pleased to report that you have responded most enthusiastically, and our bug reporting traffic has increased significantly. It sounds to me that part of the initial sluggishness of the beta testing has been the SourceForge pages. While the SourceForge system of source code archiving and bug tracking has been extremely useful to us developers, it has also been confusing and intimidating for those unfamiliar with it. So much so that I fear people have been turned off, and turned away. If this is annoying for experienced users participating in the beta test, it will be a disaster for new users once we release FDS 5. Part of the problem has been that we've expected users to navigate the SF pages more than they really need to. In a sense, what we want most users to be able to do easily is (1) download new releases of FDS-SMV, (2) easily report problems or bugs, and (3) participate in group discussions. Those interested in obtaining and working with the source code will have to endure more of the "developer's environment," but that is to be expected from those who would actually edit and compile Fortran code. If we do our job right, there should be a simply designed FDS/SV Home Page, with easy clicks to get what you need and get on with your job.

We have identified an alternative to SourceForge called GoogleCode (yes, yet another Google app!). It is free like SF, but has no ads (unless you count the big Google logo at the top of the page an ad). It is cleaner, faster, and simpler than SF, probably because there is so much less clutter. We are already using GoogleGroups for the discussion forum, so there is only one "account" that users need to establish. Many users already have one type of Google account or another anyway. So there appear to be a number of advantages presented by GoogleCode over SF. Long term, we do not see Google going away, even though at some point we might have to pay for this service. I don't suspect that FDS/SV would ever grow so big that we would require a very expensive support package. Some have asked me why we're not hosting the FDS/SV site here at NIST. Several reasons -- first, NIST has web services, but nothing like the archiving/revision control that would allow non-NIST participants to access the source. Nothing like the discussion forum either. And it would seem pointless to try to create here something that already works well and does what we need it to do.

So in the next few days, we're going to transition to our new system. For most of you participating in the beta test, this will not really change things all that much, other than a resetting of links. Early next week, I'll send out further instructions. For now, I would ask that you not submit any new issues to the SourceForge "Trackers". For those already submitted, we're going to work to resolve them and then close them out. We ask those who've submitted to follow up on any questions we might have for you. Along with the new web site(s), we'll also prepare a new version of the code, a so-called "RC3". For those who've submitted bugs that we have claimed to fix, we'd ask that you check to see if we really did fix the problem, and start new bug reports if we haven't.

Thanks for your patience in all these matters. This is exactly what a beta test ought to be, as we want to fix annoying problems now before we go to an official release.


Kevin McGrattan
National Institute of Standards and Technology
100 Bureau Drive, Mail Stop 8663
Gaithersburg MD 20899
Phone: 301 975 2712
Fax: 301 975 4052

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

All New FDS-SV Blog Posts Copied to Group...

To keep information connected, all new Blog posts will automatically be send to the FDS-SV Google Group. There the posts can be discussed, praised, exalted, lauded, etc.

So, if you don't want to go the the Blog site, and don't know what RSS Feeds are or how to use them... don't worry. Just go to the group... it is all there.


Thinking of moving from Sourceforge to Google Code

We have received some positive and some negative feedback from users on our new websites and services online... The positive feedback has been related to the functionality of what we know offer through sourceforge. i.e. CVS, Trackers, etc. The negative feed back is how it is presented, more of an interface issue. Ads all over the place, difficult to navigate the site, confusion about which site is the "real" website, how to find the right download, etc.
Much of the difficulty users have noticed, I have noticed too... So I decided to look for a better alternative. And since we are still in this Beta testing phase, now is the time to make the changes if we are ever going to.

I looked around the web a bit and found that is open to any open source project... A blog post on helped me decide to give it a try.

I have setup a new website for Users HERE.
But, more importantly I have also setup a new development management system HERE using Google Code for open source projects.

So far I really like the Google system and bringing it all under the same roof makes it much easier for users and for the developers since everything is available now with a single Google account sign-in. There are a few small issues I am still working out, but overall, I think it offers a better solution than sourceforge is currently offering.

If you take a look at these pages, please let me know if you like them more or less than what we have setup on sourceforge.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

FDS_5 RC2 Released today... Feedback Required.

To all you FDS Users and Beta Testers out there... Release Candidate 2 is on the SourceForge servers.

We need more feedback from those of you using the new version of FDS.
What do you like with the new changes?
What is too difficult or what should work better?
How successful have you been with converting existing FDS input files over to the new format?
How did it run, were the results similar?

You see we have many questions... and very few answers so far.
So please take advantage of all the methods of communicating with us and send us your comments and feedback.

BTW, did I mention that we even setup a new tracker on SourceForge for Feedback?
Yeah, we did... get the hint? :)


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

User Contribution, FDS_5 Mesh Size Calculator

Kristopher Overholt posted an Excel based Mesh Calculator in the FDS-SMV Group, Files Section.

It is great to see users contributing tools to the community.
I hope that this sets an example for others who have developed useful tools to build better FDS models.

Kristopher, thank you for your contribution...

Monday, April 16, 2007

Google Groups Features and Restrictions Examination

Google Groups Features and Restrictions Examination

I ran across this VERY informative page on Google Groups.

Since we are using it, I guess it is good to know a little bit about it.


Friday, April 13, 2007

VTT Evacuation Model in FDS

I have been asked about the Evacuation module that is being incorporated into FDS.

Here is a little more info:
The model is being developed by Timo Korhonen and Simo Hostikka from VTT in Finland.

A download is available on the VTT website, but note that it is based on FDS_4 source.
It is currently integrated into the FDS_5 source code, but has not been released for FDS_5 officially.
The module is not documented in the NIST user or technical guide, as all documentation and support for the model will be provided by VTT.

You can submit questions and support requests through the FDS-SMV tracker system, as these issues can be assigned to the VTT guys. But, until it is officially released as a part of FDS_5, please do not submit issues to the trackers for the FDS_4 version.

It will be interesting to see how the FDS+Evacuation combination begins to take shape. There are many other groups developing evacuation models integrated into the results of FDS. I will post more on them as the details emerge.

I hope this answers a few questions... and maybe even answers some before they are asked.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

High Performance Computing for Mac OS X

High Performance Computing for Mac OS X

A nice site helping people setup OS X for scientific computing.

There are links to setting up compilers and how-to's for writing OS X specific code.

It has been very useful to me when getting my new systems setup.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

First Post of Many...

Welcome to the FDS-SMV "official", unofficial web log.

Hopefully the readers of this blog will find it a valuable repository for information related to FDS and Smokeview.

If you would like to be a member/contributor to this blog, please feel free to send your request to .

There are many new resources available to the FDS-SMV community and this is one more to add to it. Be sure to check out the following links to access more of these resources.

FDS-SMV Website: