PSimComposer Introduction

This introduction to the PSimComposer Graphical User Interface demonstrates setting up, running, and visualizing simulations. The rest of PSim Quick Start assumes that you have reviewed this section to familiarize yourself with the PSimComposer GUI.

The first sub-section provides an explanation of the basic workflow through the application, consisting of the three steps: Setup, Run, and Visualize. Following this portion of the document is a detailed explanation of the options and commands available through the menu bar at the top of the PSimComposer window. Finally, this section includes explanations of the default settings supplied by PSimComposer.

In the HTML version of this document, click on any illustration to see a full size view. The images presented in this section have been captured on a computer running Mac OS X; the PSimComposer interface will appear slightly different on Windows and Linux platforms.

Create New Runspace From Example

To run one of the examples in PSimComposer, one must first create a runspace from the many templates that come with PSimComposer. There are two ways to create a runspace from one of the templates. The first is to choose New from Template… from the File menu. The second is in the Setup window; click on the New button next to New from Template… in the middle of the Setup window. See Setup Window.


Figure 24: Setup Window

Select Example Template

From the New from Template dialog, choose a new example template from one of the packages. Only those templates which you have licensed will run.

If you have clicked once on your selection in the Choose Example pane, your selection is highlighted. Now click on the Choose (middle) button in the lower right area of the New from Template window as in Selecting a specific template example from the “New from Template” Dialog. Alternatively, you could double-click on an example name and PSim will behave the same as if you had selected the example and then the Choose button.

For this example we will use the “PSimBase - Linear Diblock” example. Once an example is selected, click the Choose button at the lower right in the New from Template dialog or double-click on the example name.

New from Template Dialog

Figure 25: Selecting a package from the “New from Template” Dialog


Figure 26: Selecting a specific template example from the “New from Template” Dialog

Choose a Name for the New Runspace

The dialog Choose a name for the new Runspace allows you to choose the directory to which the example files will be copied from the template. The default name of the directory is displayed in the FileName field. For this example, the default name is linearDiblock. If you want to use a different name, you may type a different name into the FileName field. When you are satisfied with the directory name and location, click the Save button to proceed.

Create New Runspace

Figure 27: Create Directory to Use for Runspace

Using the Setup Window

After you choose the name for the runspace, PSimComposer displays the Setup window containing a Navigation pane on the left and an Editor pane on the right. The icon panel remains available on the far left.

setup files tab

Figure 28: Setup Files Tab

Below the Runspace Files tab in the Navigation pane you will find a pulldown menu for choosing which files are shown. This defaults to All Files and a toggle choice of Smart Grouping, which is on by default. These menus determine the format in which files will be displayed in the Files tab. Depending on how complex a simulation is, there may be multiple files used in a simulation, including the input file, macros, and python geometry files. Many more files produced during the simulation run at each time step of the run.

To enable convenient viewing of the list of simulation files, PSim allows you to specify in what order as well as which type(s) of files you would like to view. Smart Grouping causes similar types of files to be displayed in the same area of the Files tab list. Turning off Smart Grouping causes files to be displayed in alphabetical order rather than by type. All Files indicates that you want to see all available files involved in the simulation. You could choose to limit your view to only Runspace Files, which are files such as input files and macros that can be edited in the PSimComposer Editor pane, or Text files, which include all types of human-readable file formats, or Data files, which include incremental dump files and output files that can be visualized.

File name filtering with these pull-down menus is illustrated later in this document in the Visualization Pane section, pci-visualization-pane-options. In addition to Runspace Files, the Setup window holds the tab to change the key parameters for a run and the Save and Setup button. See The main parts of the Setup Window.

Annotated Setup Window

Figure 29: The main parts of the Setup Window

Click on the Save and Setup button in the upper right corner of the PSimComposer Setup window to validate the input before running the PolySwift++ engine.

Key Input Parameters in the Setup Window

All the example files in PSimComposer come with key parameters allowing the user to easily adjust basic parameters of the simulation. The default Setup window will show the exposed variables and an image of what the simulation looks like. By holding the mouse over the key input parameter title, a description of what exactly the variable does will pop up. Many examples can actually be significantly modified with just the key input parameters to be extended for slightly different applications.

Annotated Key (Parameters) Window

Figure 30: Key input parameters or the full input file can be edited in the Setup window

If you would like to see the actual input file, simply click on the View Input File button in the upper left hand side of the Editor pane. This will bring you to the traditional .pre file. Modifications made in the View Parameters window will carry over if you switch to input file view.

Save and Setup the Input File

Click on the Save and Setup button in the upper right corner of the PSimComposer Setup window. Once complete, a green checkmark will appear as illustrated in the image below.

save and validate button

Figure 31: Save and Setup Button

View the Output Messages

PSimComposer notifies you of the actions that it is taking in a new window that opens in the lower portion of the Editor pane.

Notice that this new window contains three tabs: a Find/Replace tab an Output tab and a Results tab. If you had clicked in any tab of the Editor window, the Find/Replace tab would have appeared to assist you with editing the file. The Output tab notifies you each step of the way as to what PSimComposer is doing as illustrated in Setup Window tab for output message.

find and replace window message

Figure 32: Setup Window tab for output message


Select the Run Icon

When your Save and Process activity completes successfully, PSimComposer reminds you that you can now select the Run icon from the icon panel on the far left of the PSimComposer window. Click on the Run icon now as shown in Run Icon in Icon Panel.

run icon on panel

Figure 33: Run Icon in Icon Panel

View the Run Window

As in the PSimComposer Setup window, the PSimComposer Run window contains two panes. As displayed in Log: simrun tab in Logs and Output Files pane, the Runtime Options window on the left contains a Standard tab, an Advanced tab and an MPI tab. The Logs and Output Files pane on the right contains a Engine Log tab on the left and a File Browser tab on the right.

simrun tab in logs and output files pane

Figure 34: Log: simrun tab in Logs and Output Files pane

View the File Browser Tab in the Logs and Output Files Pane

In the previous step the File Browser tab was located behind the Engine Log tab in the Logs and Output Files pane. Click on the File Browser tab to bring it to the front as shown in File Browser Tab in Logs and Output Files Pane.

Notice that as with the File Browser in the Setup window, the File Browser in the Run window also has the Smart Grouping and All Files pull-down menus at the bottom of the tab.

file browser tab in logs and output files pane

Figure 35: File Browser Tab in Logs and Output Files Pane

View Runtime Options

Take a look at the Standard tab in the Runtime Options (left) pane. PSimComposer enables you to specify runtime options, and in some cases, override settings in your simulation input file, from this tab. The Runtime Options pane tabs contain fields and options that give you the flexibility of command line control with the convenience of a graphical interface much like the key input parameters of the setup window. To learn about the Runtime Options pane tab settings, see PSim In Depth and PSim Reference.

If you make changes to the Runtime Options, you can restore the options to their original settings by clicking on the Reset Options button located below the Runtime Options pane on the left.

It is also possible in this menu to restart a paused simulation with the Restart at Dump Number field. This will cause the simulation to look for history taken at the given dump number, load all the associated field data, and continue running from that memory dump.

reset options button

Figure 36: Reset Options Button

Run the Simulation

For our example, we’ll run this simulation using the default settings in the input file. You do not need to select any file in particular in the File Browser tab before clicking on the Run button.

If the File Browser tab display area is too narrow for you to see the full file names in the list, you can adjust the width of the filename field by using your mouse.

Click on the Run button at the top of the Logs and Output Files pane as shown in Run Button.

run button

Figure 37: Run Button

Stopping the Simulation

PSimComposer features the ability to force a stop of a simulation. The button for this action is located next to the Run button. The Force Stop button is to be used during the setup phase of a problem, for example, if you realize that an error was made in the input file after clicking Run and needs to be corrected. If a Force Stop is used the field and history data will NOT be written to a .h5 file before the simulation stops. The output of a successfully force stopped simulation is given below.

force stop button

Figure 38: Force Stopped Simulation

Restarting a Simulation

With PSimComposer it is possible to restart a simulation that has been paused, or ended. This is useful if it is desired to add more time steps to the initial simulation, or if the simulation had been stopped in the middle of the run. Underneath the Standard tab of the Runtime Options pane of the Run window there is a Restart at Dump Number field.

Simply put in the last memory dump of the simulation and then put in the number of time steps in the Number of Time Steps field and click on the Run button, like running a normal simulation. This process is demonstrated in the figure below.

restart button

Figure 39: Restarting a Simulation. This simulation ran for an initial 500 steps. The dump period is 20 steps, so this simulation may be started from a state that is an integer multiple of 20. Here the simulation is started at step 420, run for an addition 1000 steps. The engine log is set to show update step status every 100 steps.

View the Engine Log / File Browser

Just as when processing the setup, PSimComposer again notifies you of the progress of its activity by reporting results along the way in the Engine Log tab as shown in Engine Log. If the tab display area is full, scroll down to the bottom of the tab.

run log

Figure 40: Engine Log

run log

Figure 41: File Browser. The separate dumps can be seen by drilling down using the gray arrows to the left

Analyze the Data

It is possible to run post processing python scripts on the data generated in your simulation run. For specific applications it is possible to develop your own post processing scripts and run them through the “Browse for custom script” button. The analysis scripts to be used are specified in the input file.

Analysis Script Run

Figure 42: Analysis Script Run

Visualize the Data

Select the Visualize Icon from the Icon Panel

Notice that upon successful completion of the simulation run, the last message in the Engine Log tab is a reminder that you can now select the Visualize icon from the icon panel on the far left of the PSimComposer window as seen in Visualize Icon in Icon Panel. Remember that you may need to scroll down the Engine Log tab to see the completion message.

visualize icon in icon panel

Figure 43: Visualize Icon in Icon Panel

Visualize the Current Runspace Data

The simulation was successful and the next step is to visualize the data, Click on the Open Button in the Visualize window.

visualize window open button

Figure 44: Visualize Window Open Button

Data Visualization Window

PSimComposer’s visualization feature is a flexible and comprehensive viewer based on VisIt. The simulation tutorials and examples in PSim Quick Start provide several examples of using the visualization feature in context.

The Visualize window is divided into a Controls pane on the left and a Visualization pane on the right.

As displayed in pci-scalar-fields-options, click on the right-facing triangle arrowhead next to Scalar Data to expand the view of the Scalar Data options in the Variables window.


Figure 45: Select Scalar Data Options

Click on totEthyDens in the Scalar Data option list.

visualize totethydens

Figure 46: Visualize the Data

Visualization Pane

The PSimComposer Visualization Tool uses a window in the Visualization pane on the right side of the PSimComposer window to dynamically display data modeled according to the selected variables and other Controls pane visualization configuration settings. The following images illustrate how the various features of the Visualization Tool can be used to control rendering of simulation data to help the user visually explore aspects of the simulation.

Visualize Data from a Previous Run

In addition to visualizing the results of a current run immediately after conducting the simulation, you can also visualize data from a previous run. You can access recent simulations using Recent Runspaces in the File menu in the menu bar or the Welcome window, or you can locate all previous simulations using the Open Existing Runspaces in the Setup window.

Open Recent Runspace from the File Menu

To access data to visualize from a recently conducted simulation, select Recent Runspaces from the File menu in the menu bar.

recent runspaces menu

Figure 47: Recent Runspaces Selection in File Menu

Click on the name of the runspace whose data you want to visualize. PSimComposer lists the existing data files in the selected runspace. Click on the Yes button if these are the files you want to visualize.

If you would prefer that PSimComposer does not first list the names of the detected data files for you to inspect before deciding whether you would like to visualize that data, click in the checkbox labeled Do not ask again. Clicking in this checkbox will cause PSimComposer from now on to immediately visualize the data from the selected runspace.

data files detected

Figure 48: Data Files Detected in a Runspace

Open an Existing Runspace from the Setup Window

If the simulation data you want to visualize was not produced recently, use the Setup window instead of Recent Runspaces. Return to the Setup window by clicking on the Setup icon in the icon panel then select the Open button next to Open Existing Runspace as shown in Existing Run Space button.

existing runspace button

Figure 49: Existing Run Space button

PSimComposer displays runspaces from which you may select.

existing runspace selection

Figure 50: Existing Run Space Selection. Note you must drill down to the input (.pre) file and highlight so the Open button will be active.

If you did not previously elect to not display detected data files then just as with Open Recent Runspace from the File Menu, PSimComposer displays a list of data files that it has detected in the selected runspace, and you can click on the Yes button to visualize the data.

PSimComposer Menu Bar

This introduction to the PSimComposer menu bar presents features accessible from the menu bar. In the HTML version of this document, click on any illustration to see a full size view. The images presented in this section have been captured from the Mac OS X-based PSimComposer; the PSimComposer interface will appear slightly different in the Mac OS X interface than on Windows and Linux platforms. The PSimComposer menu bar is located across the top of the desktop screen.

File Menu

The File menu contains options to control creating, opening, closing, and saving PSimComposer files and runspace directories.

file menu

Figure 51: File Menu

The New from Template feature is accessed from the PSimComposer File menu. Categories of templates from which to choose are listed in the left Available Templates pane of the New from Template window. The description of the selected category is displayed in the right Description pane of the New from Template window. The PSimBase category contains a number of example simulation files that are used in PSim Quick Start and available with any PolySwift++ engine license. As with the example categories, names of examples are listed in the left Available Templates Example pane with the description corresponding to the currently selected example shown in the right Description pane.

PSimBase: Basic Physics Examples List

Figure 52: PSimBase Example list

To open a runspace directory where existing simulation files reside, select Open Runspace from the File menu.

file menu open runspace

Figure 53: Open Runspace selection from File menu

The default directory in which runspace directories will be created when you use PSimComposer to set up simulations, is the runs directory located in the PSimComposer1.0 directory that is created in your home directory when you install.

file menu open runspace window

Figure 54: Open Runspace window

Edit Menu

The Edit menu contains commands that pertain to editing activities in the Editor pane of the PSimComposer window during Setup.

Tools Menu (Windows)

The Tools menu provides access to global settings for PSimComposer applications from the icon panel. The Tools menu contains the Settings selection. Select Settings from the Tools menu to access the Application Settings window.

Preferences Menu (MacOSX)

The main PSimComposer menu provides access to the global settings for PSimComposer applications from the icon panel. The PSimComposer menu contains the Preferences selection. Select Preferences from the PSimComposer menu to access the Application Settings window.

tools menu applications item

Figure 55: Select Settings from the Tools menu

Application Settings


The Application Settings window is displayed with General highlighted.

General Application Settings apply to default behavior for the PSimComposer applications such as file and directory actions.

general application settings

Figure 56: General Application Settings

The default setting that PSimComposer will use when opening a runspace with existing data is Ask before opening visualization. If you know that you will always want to visualize data whenever it is available, you may use the pulldown menu to set the default to Always open visualization. If you prefer to indicate whenever you want to visualize existing data by using the Visualize icon yourself instead of having PSimComposer open the visualization of existing data for you, you may use the pulldown menu to set the default to or Never open visualization.

Host Settings

By default, the PolySwift++ engine runs in serial mode. If you have a multi-core system capable of parallel processing, you can set the default to parallel instead of serial by clicking on the Host Settings radio button in the Application Settings window. Then click on the MPI Button near the top of the Application Settings window and switch the Preferred run method: from Serial to Parallel (MPI). PSimComposer detects the number of available cores for the system on which it is running and lists this value in the Cores on machine field.

PSimComposer reads the PolySwift++ engine license file and sets the default number of Cores in license to match the number of cores specified in the license file. If you would like to run simulations using fewer processes than the number of cores for which your software is licensed or perhaps try some load balancing using more processes than you have cores, you may change the number of cores by entering a new value in the Preferred number of cores field. When the value in the Preferred number of cores field is set to something other than the last saved value, PSimComposer places an asterisk in front of the field label so that you are aware that you have changed the value and may wish to save the new value.

application settings engine menu

Figure 57: Application Setting Engine Menu

PSimComposer is the graphical user interface (GUI) part of the PSim product. The PolySwift++ directory is the directory into which the non-GUI portion of the PSim simulation product, also referred to as the PolySwift++ engine, was installed. The ability to change the directory path to the PolySwift++ engine from within PSimComposer is an advanced feature mainly provided for use in consultation with Tech-X Customer Support. Please do not change this directory path unless you are an experienced PolySwift++ user. If you are an expert user and have more than one version of PolySwift++ available, you may set the PolySwift++ directory path to point to another version by checking the Select custom PolySwift++ directory radio button and entering the path to another installation of PolySwift++. The Browse button is available to help you find the path. You can reset the path back to the default installation of the PolySwift++ engine by clicking on the Select default PolySwift++ directory radio button.


The editor tab contains default settings for font size. These are editable to the users desired settings. Any file with the extensions listed in the Extensions box will use the settings under Files with Fixed-width Font and all other files under the All Other Files sections.

editor menu

Figure 58: Editor Menu

Visualization Options

The visualization options tab allows the user control over default settings of the Visualize tab in PSimComposer. By checking Manual font sizing the size of the fonts can be controlled. If Enable VisIt context menu is selected it will be possible to right click on the visualization and open VisIt itself allowing the user access to every function and feature of VisIt. It also enables the embedded point and line tools in VisIt as well as some of the generic view controls.

visualization menu

Figure 59: Visualization Menu


It is possible to review your license, as well as install a new license if an upgrade or additional packages are purchased. If the checkbox in the upper right hand corner Display Full Details is checked all information about your license, including number of cores, expiration date and available packages will be displayed. To install a new license with a Mac or Linux OS, click on the Install New License button and navigate to where your new license is located, and hit ok. To install a new license on Windows the license must be moved manually into the C:Program FilesTech-X (Win64)PSim 1.0Contentsenginebin directory.

license menu

Figure 60: License Menu

Output File Naming Conventions

The first part of the output file name is the name of the input file. This is often referred to as the dataset name or base name.

The second part of the output file name indicates the file’s contents, for example:

  • The name of the field or particle data such as totStyrDens, totEthyDens or sphereParticle1
  • History, containing data recorded over time.

The third part of the output file name is the dump number. For the PolySwift++ engine the dump number has 1,000,000 added in order to aid file system sorting. The final part of the output file name is the suffix. For most of the examples here, the suffix is ‘h5’ to denote HDF5 format.