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The Photonics Spotlight

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: Dr. Rüdiger Paschotta, 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 Encyclopedia of Laser Physics and Technology.

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