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User Interfaces for Simulation Software

Posted on 2009-03-02 as a part of the Photonics Spotlight (available as e-mail newsletter!)

Permanent link: https://www.rp-photonics.com/spotlight_2009_03_02.html

Author: , RP Photonics Consulting GmbH

Abstract: The article discusses different types of user interfaces for simulation software, based on input forms, interactive graphical interfaces and on input scripts. There are certain trade-offs concerning the easy of getting started and the flexibility. An intelligent combination of approaches can lead to the best solution.

Dr. Rüdiger Paschotta

Besides the actual calculations done by a software, the user interface can be very important, as it determines whether you can do certain things within a reasonable time. There are quite different concepts:

So we see that generally there is a trade-off to be made: some concepts are easiest to start with, while others are more flexible.

In my own software RP Fiber Power, made for designing fiber lasers and amplifiers, I used a combination of concepts in order to achieve a better combination of a quick start and highest flexibility. For not too complicated cases, the user can fill out forms. The software can create a script from the form inputs and execute that script. For more sophisticated simulations, the user may take such an automatically generated script and edit it further. I feel that this approach combines the best of two worlds.

If you are interested in discussing such issues, you may want to have a look at the Linked-In group on Optical Design and Analysis Software, where I started a discussion topic.

This article is a posting of the Photonics Spotlight, authored by Dr. Rüdiger Paschotta. You may link to this page and cite it, because its location is permanent. See also the RP Photonics Encyclopedia.

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