August 31, 2016

GoldSim 12 Preview (Part II): Updated Behavior of Input and Output Ports

Posted by Rick Kossik

This is the second in a series of blog posts in which I will briefly introduce many of the exciting new features that will appear in GoldSim 12 (which we plan to release in February 2017).  The previous blog post discussed several of the key features of the updated graphics and user interface for GoldSim 12. Today's blog post focuses in detail on one of the features we briefly discussed in the last post: the updated behavior of input and output ports.  This feature is important because it will have a significant positive impact on the appearance of your models.

In the previous post, I discussed how the GoldSim icons have been replaced (and rendered in higher definition) in GoldSim 12:
Expression in GoldSim 11.1
Expression in GoldSim 12

One additional critical change you should note from the images above is that the input and output ports are hidden in GoldSim 12. The combination of the new port behavior and the new graphics rendering makes the graphics pane less cluttered and much more attractive:

GoldSim 11.1

GoldSim 12

As can be  seen, hiding the ports is a great improvement.  As all experienced GoldSim users know, however, the ports are actually quite important, so it is critical that they are accessible (in fact, as you will note above, not all of the ports are hidden). In GoldSim 12, holding your cursor over an element will always cause the ports to be displayed.  But as discussed below, they are also displayed automatically under other circumstances.

The ports appear as small squares at the bottom corners of the element:
To understand the new port behavior, it is useful to review why ports are important in the first place. Ports serve two important purposes.

First, by left-clicking on them, you can view a list of the inputs and outputs for the element:
There are several reasons to do this, with the most common one being viewing the list of outputs in order to display results for a particular outputs.

Secondly, by changing their appearance, ports are used to convey status information regarding the element and provide important visual cues when navigating a model. In particular,
  • When in Result Mode, if an element has results, the output port becomes green:
  • If an input or output of the element is linked to an element in another Container, a dot appears in the middle of the input and/or output port:
Pond1 has an input that comes from another Container.
Pond2 has an input that comes from another Container and
has an output that is used in another Container.
The ports for an element are always displayed when you hold your cursor over it.  However, you can control how ports are displayed when the cursor is not being held over an element.  This is controlled via the main menu by selecting View | Show Element Ports:

As can be seen, there are three options:
  • Smart. This is the default. If this is selected, ports are only shown if they have some status information to display (e.g., results, links to other Containers). In the examples shown above, this is why only one of the two ports are shown in some cases.
  • All. The ports are always shown.
  • None. None of the ports are shown.
In the overwhelming majority of cases, the default (Smart) is the appropriate option. Occasionally, you may want the hide all ports (None) so as to make the graphics pane look even less complicated. It is rare that you would want to show All.

We will continue to explore the many new features of GoldSim 12 in subsequent blog posts.

Next GoldSim 12 Preview - Part III: New Run Controls

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