SimScale CAE Forum

Most important use cases for collaboration?


#1

Fellow SimScalers,

tl;dr: What’s your most important use case for collaboration on SimScale?

Longer version:

with its web-based architecture, SimScale has a lot of potential when it comes to collaborating around simulation projects. The current collaboration capabilities (sharing copies of private projects, working via view/commenting on public projects) are really just first steps to leverage this potential. These capabilities will be extended to help SimScale users to get their work done faster and easier. There are already many ideas and feature requests around what type of collaboration functionality would be valueable/helpful but I wanted to open up a thread to hear what type of collaboration use cases would be most important to you? As always, collaboration functionality would not be realized with one big bang release but via a step by step introduction of more capabilities. So which use case would be most crucial to your work / should have the highest priority from your perspective?

To provide some hints to start the discussion: Is it a “View only” access for your customers/partners or rather a collaborative editing with colleagues/peers? Is the integration with 3rd party PDM systems more important than private comments on projects? Are there any collaboration use cases that we might not have thought of yet?

Looking forward to your thoughts!

Best,

David


Sharing a Project
#2

Hi @dheiny,

This is a difficult question to answer because, for me, it depends on what the implementation is like. Here are some of the features I would like in each category:

Customer Portal

  • Fast load time
  • Ability to compare multuple simulations side-by-side
  • Ability to display results from the on-line and off-line post processor
  • Graphical display of loads and constraints
  • Ability to mark up the results e.g. 3D notes
  • Ability to embed the results into a report that gives some context to the customer (TeamPlatform does a good job of this with their Workspace Pages)

Collaborative Editing

  • Ability for multiple people to work simultaneously on the same project (like Onshape)
  • Ability to have multiple projects/simulations etc open simultaneously (in different browser tabs) (like Onshape)
  • Ability to share screens with other collaborators (like Onshape and Google Docs)
  • Ability to compare the settings of multiple simulations
  • Ability to selectively share simulations runs within a project (selecting one or more runs to share creates a new shared project with just the selected run(s) and dependent data (mesh, simulation settings etc). Like making a copy of a project but purging all unnecessary data.
  • Ability to make comments on settings to document why values have been chosen.

Third Party Integration

  • Topology associativity with original CAD geometry (I have some other ideas around this but that’s for another discussion)
  • Spreadsheet links to table driven values (changes made to an online spreadsheet are updated automatically in SimScale tables)
  • Results files are automatically pushed to an on-line storage provider (e.g. Google Drive, Dropbox etc)

Are you able to provide more details of what features you’re considering? I would then be able to give you my order of priority.


#3

Hi @BenLewis,

great input. A few questions to make sure I understand you correctly:

Do I get you right that with “Customer Portal” you mean dedicated functionality to edit/prepare a web page or multiple pages of some sort to send to your customer? So say, you’ve ran a bunch of sims and you’d like to share an intermediate status quo with a customer - pick some of the results and some writing and send him this page in a “online report” way. Do I understand this correctly?

The reason for this workflow I guess is that you’d like to share a specific result/sim with a customer but not the entire project, right? Would a “Move these runs to new project” feature be a first step?

Would love to hear those ideas - I’ll open up another thread ;)!

Get the need for an export. How about the import - how important would be the direct import from Dropox / Google Drive?

I’d love to hear more about the “Collaborative Editing” part: Next to editing permissions, what other permissions would you like to manage? Read-only viewing? Block downloading of CAD models / meshes etc. - what use cases around project permissions you’d give to other people would be among your top priorities?

Thanks a lot,

David


#4

Hi @dheiny, please see my comments below.

In its simplest form, want I would really like is the ability to share a ParaView scene via a web browser. This includes multiple views, 3D text, and all the filter effects. Embedding this into an online report is secondary.

So, in an email or report I would like to be able to include a link to a ParaView scene. The customer can then follow the link and without installing any software and without any prior knowledge of SimScale or ParaView view the results.

The purpose of this workflow is primarily for working with collaborators. I have rarely had the need to share my simulation configuration details with clients. My clients tend to be only interested in the results. When sharing a project with a collaborator I like to purge out all the unnecessary information first. This makes it much easier for my collaborator to identify the simulations of value. Currently I do this by duplicating the project and then deleting all the unwanted information. This can take some time. “Move these runs to a new project” would be great. It would also be great if the user could move a run to an existing project. This means that if the user forgets a particular run the user is not forced to start over.

Import form Dropbox / Google Drive is not important to me. I don’t see how this would be of any value to me.

At this stage editing permissions are not important to me. If I’m collaborating with somebody I would want to give them full access anyway. So full access is my number one priority.


#5

@dheiny
I worked with different simulation tools but most time alone on a project. I can’t really say anything about sharing the work with different designer/engineers.
For me it would be important to have access to different simulation settings and the results to the same time so I can compare it.
For the documentation it it necessary to get the information direct in my local software like LibreOffice. If it a spreadsheet, the settings or the 3D results.
What @BenLewis already sad I also support is that different person can work on the same project. Let say we are located around the world and could take over from a collage who is located at the opposite side of the world and is going to bed.


#6

Hi Ben,

great feedback. One last question regarding your points:

Would you give the collaborator access to a copy of your project or to the actual project you’re working on? As there is currently no version/project history tracking in SimScale, you could not roll back the changes of your collaborator. Would such a version/history tracking be necessary before giving others full editing permissions?

Best,

David


#7

@sburger,

got it. Regarding the documentation / report creation: Would you prefer that SimScale writes out a default + editable (say in odp or doc format) report that you than can expand and tweak or would you want to use your own template and just selectively copy over content from your SimScale project?

Best,

David


#8

Both options has his advantage.
A default output file has the advantage to get the relevant information in one go but not in that way I may like it. If we would get the possibility to select which data/results will be exported and in which order.
I have seen also following functionality. Let say I will copy a 2d result (x/y diagram) in my document and if I copy it in a text or presentation program I would get the diagram but if I insert it in a spread sheet it would be the x and y values. It is a advance function but nice to have. It would do the job if I could select graph, values, settings, etc to copy and past.


#9

Hi @dheiny,

In almost all cases I would give the collaborator full access to the actual project. This way we would not be doubling up on work. And each collaborator can monitor how the others are progressing in real time. The way I see it, limiting permissions has the potential to slow or block progress.

Of course I would only collaborate in this way with experienced and trusted operators. If I had the need to collaborate with somebody I felt may make a mess of my project (e.g. a trainee) I would duplicate the project at milestones.

Version/history tracking would be a nice safety net but it’s not a high priority. If I could start collaborating sooner without permissions and version/history tracking then I would take sooner any day over these nice to have features.

What I would really like is what @cjquijano suggested, a way to restore settings from a previous run to the current settings. This would make it easy to “undo” changes or explore an idea that a collaborator many have worked on some number of runs back.

Also the ability to compare simulations settings side-by-side would help with “same project” collaboration. This would make it really easy to see what other collaborators are doing.

Regards, Ben


#10

Hi Ben,

got it. Put in “permission slang”, for you providing others with a “Can edit” permission would have the highest priority even without history/version tracking of a simulation project to potentially roll back changes of another project member. I’ll share updates / a rough roadmap on this as soon as we’re getting closer.

Comparing sim setups and applying run settings to sim settings has been already filed as a feature request. Here I’ll also keep you posted.

Thanks a lot again for all the super valuable input!

All the best,

David


#11

Hi @dheiny,

Just one final thought. My comments on this topic are probably biased by the constraints of what I think are currently possible. But cloud computing brings many more possibilities than I’m currently accustomed to. I’ll try to explain.

I know from the point of view of a number of my clients that “permissions” are in fact important. Of course it is important for business to protect their IP. In an ideal world my clients would like a work space where (if required) projects cannot be copied or duplicated and geometry, meshes and results files cannot be downloaded (even by collaborators). At the conclusion of a project collaborators can be removed from a project and everyone can rest assured that their IP is secure (no local copies of files anywhere).

The reality is that blocking collaborators from accessing this data has the potential to slow progress down. For example, if a geometry change is required and the collaborator does not have rights to download the CAD file. Hence I would prefer to give full permissions to my collaborators so as not to hinder progress.

It may however soon be possible between, SimScale and Onshape, to have an environment where IP related data never needs to leave the cloud. Geometry changes can be made in Onshape and results can be viewed in SimScale’s online post processor. Permissions could be restricted in both environments so that it is not possible to make local copies of any files. I know this would be a very attractive proposition for a number of my clients.

For me, the technology is not quite at the point where I could switch completely to the cloud. But I can see that it will be a possibility soon. When everything I need to do is in the cloud then permissions will become a higher priority because my customers will be asking for the added security this will bring.

Sorry if I sound like I’m contradicting myself. It’s just that this was not a possibility I had considered before.

Regards, Ben


#12

Hi @BenLewis,

Sorry. I can’t following your argument with protecting IP. As far as I know if I publish the main idea of an IP before you apply the IP than you can’t get the IP any more because it was published before. It would be enough to use a screenshot to do it.


#13

Hi @sburger,

I think Ben (correct me if I’m wrong, Ben) is referring to situations where contractors are bound via partnering / service agreements according to which they need to return all data that was handed to them throughout the project. So it’s not about “publishing” IP, but rather giving 3rd parties temporary access to it to get the job done. Having at all time control over permission rights to this data/IP would then allow to manage this access conveniently without having to worry about if there are any additional copies somewhere.

I do agree, that with storage + tools + people in the same central place, collaboration will significantly accelerated. Let’s try to make simulation get their asap :slight_smile:.

Best,

David


#14

Hi @sburger,

the way I see it, having only one secure copy of a design is inherently more secure than multiple copies. Each collaborator has a responsibility to protect their clients data, both during the course of the project and after the fact. Some collaborators will do this better than others. The more collaborators on a project and the more geographically dispersed the more difficult it is to ensure data security. Maintaining only one copy of a project simplifies this and adds another level of protection. It’s not perfect, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Regards, Ben


#15

OK. I go it but this a different reason then IP. It is a simple safety issue to keep the details in your hand. Otherwise someone is with a copy faster on the market than you.