Improvements to Comsol Multiphysics - suggestions for the software and community forum

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Danial Tz

Danial Tz

May 14, 2010 9:21pm UTC

Improvements to Comsol Multiphysics - suggestions for the software and community forum

I love Comsol alot. Being a programmer for years, Comsol is like a programming language for Multiphysics and Math. Nevertheless, there are some points that I would like to see them taken care of.

I hope that you keep this post here, so we users can brainstorm on what we would like to see implemented and enjoy a better user experience. The list is not quite ordered; some are important some would-be-cool-to-haves. Also, everybody is welcome to post their ideas. I will edit the list as more suggestions come.

1) Comsol Multiphysics 4 software
1.1) User experience

1. Better documentation. Definitely. The V4 docs are like good start, but that's it. Contrary to the great doc in v3, you can not implement say Fluid-structure interaction using the docs. Also, the model library misses some important models, which I can assume it is due to the lack of the implementation in the code itself.
2. A rather detailed comparision list of what is imlemented and what not. i.e. it is advertised that ALE is there, but I could not make it work as in 3.5a. 2 weeks of work and then you learn it is not implemented yet.
3. Faster user interface. I can assume this java interface (like eclipse) can be improved to be faster. It is not very fluent currently to move windows around. It is like first days of Eclipse editor, while today Eclipse is quite fast.
4. I could not find a way to have a plot while solving feature plot into two windows. It always prints in the "graphics" tab.
5. Reordering the plots (planned to be available with 4.0a)
6. Possiblity to plot domains only in certain subdomains, and until certain coordinates. Like having a pressure and velocity plots above the cylinder and below in the same plot.
7. Persistent views. I should be able to lock the views so the temporary zooming can not change it.
8. Zoom extent, as in v3. When you select an item, zoom extent will bring the item in full screen focus.
9. Color selection option. Why not let the users select the gradients in the plots?
10. "Clear the log" option
11. Convergence plots missing
12. When line plots are active in 1D, they show up in the 2D plots as well.
13. Save customized desktop layouts
14. Save as does not ask for confirmation when overwriting a file [Ivar]

1.2) Modeling
...


2) Community Forum
2.1) User experience

I am not sure what forum software is used on Comsol website, but despite being slick it lacks many features of a user friendly forum. Here is a list:

1. Users can not have a global forum alert. You have to visit the website each time to see if there is a new post. No global RSS as well.
2. No category system. This may not be a drawback as there are other powerful forums also this way (vanilla), yet, probably the first page of the forum gets the most love and the rest are left out. At least some posts can be highlighted or left on-top like announcements, ...
3. Marking topics as solved.
4. If no reply posted, being able to delete a post (you can't delete a post you sent by mistake)
5. Favourites option. If I like a post, or need it for a future reference, I have to look for it with a search engine.
6. You can not change your forum subscriptions for a post, unless you check every post one by one.
7. No forum signatures. It helps to put your system, comsol version,... so you don't have to post it each time.
8. Users can not use any content helper tools. i.e. Latex formula, bold, ... or at least not documented
9. Avoid using hardcoded names under the pictures. It is nice to know the people you talk to, but I don't like to be indexed by google. Javascript can help.
10. Embeding pictures with no need to download them each time.
11. Tag system. Instead of category the user can tag a post, with comsol 4, or modeling, idea, ...

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Danial Tz

Danial Tz

June 3, 2010 8:31am UTC in response to Danial Tz

Re: Improvements to Comsol Multiphysics - suggestions for the software and community forum

Niklas from Comsol mentioned that they actually implemented/fixed more or less the items above in comsol. For them not to fill too bored here is an additional list:

1) Comsol MPH

1.1. Copy paste items.
As much as I've seen, the new comsol has a XML markup language. So, copy pasting back to the tree shouldn't be too difficult.

1.2. A shortcut or a global key to run the active simulation.
So, I don't have to find the sequence each time when I change something.

1.3. A play button for the "player" in the report section, in addition to export.

1.4. [bug] Mesh quality surface plot returns nothing.

1.5. "Zooming" into the solution plot during solving is reset in the next time step back to the initial plot.

1.6. Total solution time missing. Also, would be nice to have a better time statistics on each solver action? so you can know where your problem bottlenecks are.

1.7. [minor] replace the adobe icon in model documentation with a text one: [&] -> [model documentation]. I never noticed I could click on it.

1.8. A separate tab for logs, with an option for search and pause. When there is an inverted mesh I want to know when it happened and how. But the log file keeps updating and also you have to go through all text to find where it happened.

1.9. [minor] Preferences menu item under Mac does not work. Only under options work.

1.10. An option to check for the latest update/version available, or better notifying you.



2) Community forum
2.1. avatars missing from the detail post view.


Many thanks in advance

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Danial Tz

Danial Tz

July 23, 2010 2:04pm UTC in response to Danial Tz

Re: Improvements to Comsol Multiphysics - suggestions for the software and community forum

Hi All,

I had posted this list a while ago, and after the last months updates I see that the Comsol team actually gave a shot at them. So, it is time to update the list.


1) Comsol Multiphysics 4 software
1.1) User experience

1. [Solved] Better documentation. Definitely. The V4 docs are like good start, but that's it. Contrary to the great doc in v3, you can not implement say Fluid-structure interaction using the docs. Also, the model library misses some important models, which I can assume it is due to the lack of the implementation in the code itself.

The documentation is getting definitely better. At least more or less I can find my way.

2. [Solved] A rather detailed comparision list of what is imlemented and what not. i.e. it is advertised that ALE is there, but I could not make it work as in 3.5a. 2 weeks of work and then you learn it is not implemented yet.

You can find it in the updates section. Thank you.

3. [Solved] Faster user interface. I can assume this java interface (like eclipse) can be improved to be faster. It is not very fluent currently to move windows around. It is like first days of Eclipse editor, while today Eclipse is quite fast.

It is no more sluggish and as good as other java interfaces.


4. [Solved] I could not find a way to have a plot while solving feature plot into two windows. It always prints in the "graphics" tab.

It is still not very convenient when you have more than one probe plot. It keeps them on the same plot. A comsol employee suggested a method in another post (have to find it) and I will try it. Still, not very easy to use.

5. [Not Solved] Reordering the plots (planned to be available with 4.0a).

You can not reorder the items inside a plot. Pretty boring to do each again when you want to reorder them.

6. [Solved] Possiblity to plot domains only in certain subdomains, and until certain coordinates. Like having a pressure and velocity plots above the cylinder and below in the same plot.

You can have filters. Perfect!

7. [Solved] Persistent views. I should be able to lock the views so the temporary zooming can not change it.
8. [Not Solved] Zoom extent, as in v3. When you select an item, zoom extent will bring the item in full screen focus.
9. [Not Solved] Color selection option. Why not let the users select the gradients in the plots?
But it is quite refreshing already.


10. [Not Solved] "Clear the log" option
11. [Not Solved] Convergence plots missing

12. [?] When line plots are active in 1D, they show up in the 2D plots as well.
13. [Not Solved] Save customized desktop layouts
14. [?] Save as does not ask for confirmation when overwriting a file [Ivar]

15. [Not Solved] Copy paste items.
Specially in plots it will make sense alot, and also geometry.


16. [Not Solved] A shortcut or a global key to run the active simulation
So, I don't have to find the sequence each time when I change something.


17. [Solved] A play button for the "player" in the report section, in addition to export.

18. [Solved] [bug] Mesh quality surface plot returns nothing.

19. [?] "Zooming" into the solution plot during solving is reset in the next time step back to the initial plot.

20. [Solved] Total solution time missing. Also, would be nice to have a better time statistics on each solver action? so you can know where your problem bottlenecks are.

21. [Solved] [minor] replace the adobe icon in model documentation with a text one: [&] -> [model documentation]. I never noticed I could click on it.

22. [Partially Solved] A separate tab for logs, with an option for search and pause. When there is an inverted mesh I want to know when it happened and how. But the log file keeps updating and also you have to go through all text to find where it happened.

24. [Not Solved] An option to check for the latest update/version available, or better notifying you.


2) Community Forum
2.1) User experience

1. [Not Solved] Users can not have a global forum alert. You have to visit the website each time to see if there is a new post. No global RSS as well.
2. [Partially Solved] No category system. This may not be a drawback as there are other powerful forums also this way (vanilla), yet, probably the first page of the forum gets the most love and the rest are left out. At least some posts can be highlighted or left on-top like announcements, ...
3. [Not Solved] Marking topics as solved.
4. [Solved] If no reply posted, being able to delete a post (you can't delete a post you sent by mistake)
5. [Not Solved] Favourites option. If I like a post, or need it for a future reference, I have to look for it with a search engine.
6. [Not Solved] You can not change your forum subscriptions for a post, unless you check every post one by one.
7. [Not Solved] No forum signatures. It helps to put your system, comsol version,... so you don't have to post it each time.
8. [Partially Solved] Users can not use any content helper tools. i.e. Latex formula, bold, ... or at least not documented

Some tags would be nice, like [s] for strikethrough text, or 1 color option like red.

9. [Not Solved] Avoid using hardcoded names under the pictures. It is nice to know the people you talk to, but I don't like to be indexed by google. Javascript can help.

10. [Not Solved] Embeding pictures with no need to download them each time.
11. [Solved] Tag system. Instead of category the user can tag a post, with comsol 4, or modeling, idea, ...

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Ivar Kjelberg

Ivar Kjelberg

July 23, 2010 2:40pm UTC in response to Danial Tz

Re: Improvements to Comsol Multiphysics - suggestions for the software and community forum

Hi

I can cerify that for 4.0a the following points, are for me also covered:

5) I'm not sure what you are referring to by "reorder the plots", but for several tree branches items (not the plots though) you have now the "move up" / "move down" options for reordering from the right click menu
9) color schemes, there are several options there to adapt color and ranges, but you need to open the tabs
10) clear the log: you have invidual logs and time for execution for the different solvers, including a "File - reset model" and "Clear solver sequence", "Compute to selected", "Solution Update", "Probe plot Refresh". And clear the mesh is simply "Build to selected" of first "size" item under the mesh node
14) "save as" does no longer owerwrite existing files, applies also to "Variables" or constants / "Parameters"
16) you have now "Evaluate all" and "Clear and Evaluate all" for derived values evaluation

and probably a few other points, I'm not sure I get them all


On the Forum you have now several categories (not OS I agree, mostly usefull for debugging)
and you can have a different name on the Forum (I have shortened mine I do neither not like to be googled so high up on the statistics)

SO suggesting improvements, when sufficiently documented to allow the developpers to understand us easily does help quite a lot

--
Good luck
Ivar

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Danial Tz

Danial Tz

July 23, 2010 7:55pm UTC in response to Ivar Kjelberg

Re: Improvements to Comsol Multiphysics - suggestions for the software and community forum

Hi Ivar,

Thank you for your comments. I have to say that the new Comsol 4.0a is my most favorite CAE tool ever. It is very easy to use, much more productive and runs significantly faster compared to older versions. There are rather small issues left which I try to explain below (in addition to the items above):

[Reordering]

To me in addition to solver items, reordering in geometry and plots are very essential. e.g. I do lot of geometry changes and each time I have to redo things. In plots, say I want to be able to bring up and down two surface plots in a group.

Copy pasting a node item would be also a great addition, which would make the interface complete. Not to mention the undo option :)

[Missing models]
The cool models from 3.5 are missing. e.g. obstacle in the flow, ...

[Geometry]
Splitting does not work for example cylinder and line intersecting. So, I can not use it to generate mapped mesh around a cylinder.

[Probes]
Generally, despite being quite useful, I have a feeling the workflow of probes is not very streamlined. I get confused to where they belong and how to separate them - in case you have more than one. Why not to assign a window to them where you define them?

[Cluster]
The documentation is non-existent. If you know let me know. I have a cluster waiting but dont know how to use with Comsol. Also, it is not clear with licensing if I can use several instances of Comsol on a cluster. Say, I have 300 CPUs linux cluster and each simulation uses 3 CPU optimally. Can I run 100 instances of Comsol, or does Comsol take care of such parameter sweep simulation? I don't know yet.

[Report]
Can we have the nice background of Comsol (the blue gradient) added as an option too? So, the same pic as we see in Graphics tab.

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Magnus Ringh

Magnus Ringh
COMSOL Employee
Sweden

July 26, 2010 8:14am UTC in response to Danial Tz

Re: Improvements to Comsol Multiphysics - suggestions for the software and community forum

Hi Danial,

Thank you for your comments and suggestions. We are listening!

Regarding the last item under [Report]:
This is available for creating images: In the Image node's Settings window, select Current from the Background list in the Layout section. That gives you the "blue gradient" as the background for 3D plots.

Best regards,
Magnus Ringh
COMSOL

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Danial Tz

Danial Tz

July 26, 2010 2:54pm UTC in response to Magnus Ringh

Re: Improvements to Comsol Multiphysics - suggestions for the software and community forum


Hi Danial,

Thank you for your comments and suggestions. We are listening!

Regarding the last item under [Report]:
This is available for creating images: In the Image node's Settings window, select Current from the Background list in the Layout section. That gives you the "blue gradient" as the background for 3D plots.

Best regards,
Magnus Ringh
COMSOL


Great to hear it Magnus. Please keep up the good work!

Danial

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Danial Tz

Danial Tz

October 11, 2010 1:55pm UTC in response to Danial Tz

Re: Improvements to Comsol Multiphysics - suggestions for the software and community forum

I just read about the additions to v4.1, and was pleasantly surprised to read the followings:


Updates to the interactive, tree-structured Model Builder in version 4.1 make the modeling process more intuitive to manage. Users can now copy and paste nodes within the Model Builder. With a click of a button, users can duplicate selected nodes as functions, geometry selections, plot settings and visualization effects, or they can use duplicated nodes to create new images, to study the steps that control solver settings and analysis type, or prepare data for export. The Model Builder and Settings window offers new Undo/Redo functionality for added convenience in operating the software.


Which addressed many of the most wanted issues listed above. wow.



COMSOL Multiphysics version 4.1 also introduces simulation job management tools. The automatic save and recovery of models during solver operations ensures that an interrupted simulation job can be recovered. COMSOL stores simulation data on file throughout the computation of the solution. In case of a power outage or any other unpredictable event, the data can be reloaded and simulation can continue from the point it was stopped.


Just wow! finally, an end to crashed simulations and loss of weeks.


resume interrupted solvers by right-clicking on the study or solver and selecting Continue

Very practical.


contour labels for a clear presentation of contour plots

I can throw out numerous matlab codes I did :& :)


The all-new physics-controlled meshing enables users to let the software do the time-consuming mesh-creation process. Currently implemented in the CFD and Plasma physics interfaces COMSOL now automatically specifies the mesh based on the physics in the model.

Interesting, and looking forward to see it in action.


Seems I have to do a new list, since many are already outdated. Great work. really.


Source: goo.gl/NRQe



--
Comsol 4.0a
Ubuntu 10.04.1

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Jean-Francois Leon

Jean-Francois Leon

October 11, 2010 3:50pm UTC in response to Danial Tz

Re: Improvements to Comsol Multiphysics - suggestions for the software and community forum

Any info on 4.1 release date...?

JF

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Danial Tz

Danial Tz

October 11, 2010 4:04pm UTC in response to Jean-Francois Leon

Re: Improvements to Comsol Multiphysics - suggestions for the software and community forum


Any info on 4.1 release date...?

JF


Not really, but I read as well that they're going to show it in the comsol conference in Paris.


--
Comsol 4.0a
Ubuntu 10.04.1

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Onur Ilkorur

Onur Ilkorur

October 14, 2010 12:48pm UTC in response to Danial Tz

Re: Improvements to Comsol Multiphysics - suggestions for the software and community forum

I can add one thing to that list because I think that that way of modelling may be very beneficial for most users.

Coming from a different finite element software environment, what I am missing the most is to be able to define an axially symmetric model by only using lines, arcs, but not only using areas. Similar to the case with using shells in a 3-dimensional model, using lines in a 2-dimensional axial symmetry model can reduce the modelling time to a great extend, specially when you are dealing with a complex geometry. This only not eases the parametric modelling time, it also eliminates the expensive geometrical calculations which always carry a small amount of calculation error risk. Yet again, the precision requirement for such a geometry creation is very high if you want to make your areas water-sealed.

I still don't know if it is possible in the 4.0a version though. I have tried but maybe my experience level in 4.x didn't allow me go till the end.

/Onur

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Matej Cerny

Matej Cerny

January 17, 2014 1:43pm UTC in response to Danial Tz

Re: Improvements to Comsol Multiphysics - suggestions for the software and community forum

I would like to have keyboard shorcut for "selection". Other shortcuts be nice also.

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Evgeni Sergeev

Evgeni Sergeev

September 20, 2014 8:01am UTC in response to Matej Cerny

Re: Improvements to Comsol Multiphysics - suggestions for the software and community forum

I would like to be able to Copy (to clipboard) the computed Value in the Parameters table.

-----

EDIT: I found a way to do that. See the AutoHotkey script here: evgeni.org/oldfish/Top_nine_hi...king_with_Comsol#Equation_View

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