Why you should try out the Chimera Beta GUI



By paul ~ July 28th, 2006. Filed under: Announcements, Chimera, Tips & Tricks.

If you’re a Foresight user, and you’re actively modeling and/or debugging (as opposed to just doing batch simulations) we’d like you to seriously consider using the Chimera Beta.  This is the new Java NetBeans-based GUI that we’ve been working on for several years. We’ve nicknamed it “Chimera” because it’s a little like that mythical animal (body of a lion, tail of a serpent, and goat head coming out of the back.)  We have taken the Foresight code-base and “remodeled the house while living in it”, making incremental changes to the GUI while leaving the simulator, data model, and database alone.

The new GUI is built using the NetBeans GUI, and the emphasis has been on creating a more modern, productive interface to the Foresight modeling functionality.  What this means to you, the Foresight user, is that you can benefit from the usability improvements without having to let go of the stability of the classic Foresight, as represented by the v5.3.x series.  The current release of Foresight Chimera is v6.0.6 and it is 100% database and simulation compatible with v5.3.3 and can be installed alongside v5.3.3 allowing users to freely switch back and forth between the two with the same models.

Chimera Screenshot

The Chimera GUI consists of an “executive” that contains the menu and toolbars, a hierarchical “navigator” window, a properties window, and the output window where model and analysis output are sent.  The editor windows (Minispec, STD, DFD, etc.) are independent and all windows can be placed wherever you like (the layout above is the one I like to use.)

One of the convenient “it’s about time” features is the ability to drag-and-drop library elements and reusables from libraries and subsystem catalogs into the model.  This, along with the much improved window management provided by putting all analysis output into one window and adding the navigator window is a substantial productivity enhancement.

When the simulator is turned on, the simulation output window (shown below) appears.

Simulation Output Window Screen Shot

The panes in the window (“Values”, “Messages”, “Monitors”, “Events”) can be turned on and off as desired.

I’ve been using this GUI for the last two years for production modeling, and it works very well.  In my opinion, it is much more productive than the old GUI for modeling and debugging.  Since we do not yet have a batch version, I still use the old version for batch execution, but that’s all.  Everything else I do in Chimera.

We still have a lot to do before we can declare victory and officially release Chimera.

  • Replace all of the existing InterViews dialogs with Java versions.  This effort is underway.
  • Integrate show/change flow values into the Values pane of the simulation output window.
  • Replace X windows with native windows for the graphical editors.  This effort is underway.
  • Migrate the Minispec and Data Dictionary editor windows to Java windows.
  • Lots of other little fit and finish things.

We’d love to have all of our users try Chimera out and give us your feedback.  You can download it from our support site.  We know that many of you are working on projects where you are allowed to use only officially approved, released software.  If you’d like to try Chimera out on your laptop or home computer, contact us at fs_support@foresight-mands.com and ask for a free trial license.

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