The two most common used post-processing applications to visualise models and results are “System Visualisation” and “Graphic/Wingraf”. Both provide you with the option to refine your representation by switching on/off elements using their group assignments. But keeping track of all group numbers can be challenging.
Sure, having a cheat sheet is an excellent thing, and something I’d recommend. But wouldn’t’ it be great to label each of the groups in addition to their numbers?
Before discussing the available options further, let’s have a look into groups in general.
Groups are containers which include several elements. When creating a structural line within SOFiPLUS, you can also add a group number beside the element number itself. By doing this, you create the group container and make it available for other elements too.
Imagine a high-rise building. Which requires columns, walls and most likely slabs for every single floor. To perform a construction stage analysis, it becomes necessary to activate every single element for every single storey one by one. To do that more efficient, you can put all columns and walls in the same group number. And the slab perhaps in the following one. As the construction stage manager activates group numbers, the construction sequence is simple to create and to maintain.
But there are more advantages to use different groups in your project besides construction stages to work with SOFiSTiK.
- Visual handling in pre-processing (Filter tool in SOFiPLUS)
- Partly disabling of the structure for the analysis and design
- Simplification of the structure for result visualisation in post-processing
Now let’s focus on how a designation for group numbers can improve your post-processing.
Visibility Option in System Visualisation
There are three commands available in the ribbon “Visibility” within the menu “System Visualisation”. All of them allow you to change the representation independence of the group numbers.
The command “Groups” allows to select and therefore switch on/off groups in “System Visualisation”. The list contains the columns “ID” and “Title”. “ID” represents the defined group number. You might have recognised; the column “Title” shows the same value for all groups. I’ll come back to it further down, how to enter a different designation for each group.
Besides these two columns such as “Beam”, “Quad”, “Sprin” others show up if the project contains such elements.
A welcome feature within the “SOFiSTiK: Group Definition” table is multi selecting of columns and lines. Click on the column header, and the entire column get chosen. And a single click on one of the tick boxes activates or deactivates all group number lines.
Settings from Graphic
The “Settings from Graphic” command requires a “Graphic/Wingraf” input. It allows to replicate the active groups from “Interactive Graphics” task or external “Graphic/Wingraf “file (*.gra). If there is an “Interactive Graphic” task in your project tree available, it picks the settings. If there are several “Interactive Graphics” tasks in the “Project Navigation” and a *.gra file available in the project directory, the last modified one gets picked.
Hide a Group
The “Hide a Group” command works straight forward. Select and hide elements within the same group number with one single click in the “System Visualisation”.
Visibility Option in Graphic/Wingraf
There are also similar options available in “Graphic/Wingraf” to improve the representation of your results in the reports.
In the menu “Select”, and section “Groups” the options “All Groups” and “Define Groups …” are available. You can find the command also in the toolbar “Selection” – the two on the right end of the toolbar.
The “All Groups command is a reset of the group selection of the active graphic, which is a welcome feature.
Define Groups …
The “Define Groups …” command is the equivalent as “Groups” in “SOFiSTiK Structural Desktop”. It comes with the same features to switch on/off group numbers to represent them in the graphic.
If you work on massive projects, groups are part of it. However, and you might have come across this, remembering all these group numbers can get quite challenging.
So let’s see how you can add a designation to your different group numbers.
Unfortunately, changing the group title isn’t possible in “SOFiSTiK Structural Desktop” or in “Graphic/graphic” – it needs to be done in the Pre-processing.
Experienced SOFiSTiK user building their models with the program module “SOFiMSHA” are familiar with this possibility already.
However, since SOFiSTiK 2020-02, there is no need to go for the text input, you can comfortably enter the group name within SOFiPLUS.
Group Designation in SOFiPLUS
The option to change the title of groups is available within the SOFiPLUS 2020 Sidebar in the tab “Structural Elements”. The section “Edit Elements” includes the command “Assign Groups”.
Besides allowing to change the name of the group number, the command also provides the option to assign a group number to several different element types in one step.
By clicking the “Assign Group” command a table with all groups of your projects shows up. The inputs “New number” and “Offset” aren’t necessary for what we want to do today.
By default, the cells of the column “Name” are empty, which generates the default title “Group”.
And as you might already imagine, to change the default Name/Title you need to write something into the blank cell in column “name” in the specific group number line.
You might also have the group number “0” available in your project, which is the default group number for all elements in “SOFiPLUS”. Keep in mind, entering a name for group number “0” won’t have any effect.
To save the changes in the group names, you have to perform an export of the project.
Back in “SOFiSTiK Structural Desktop” and “Graphic/Wingraf” the updated group names show up.
Groups are an essential tool to use SOFiSTiK most efficiently. For visualisation during pre-processing or post-processing or for construction stage sequences, it doesn’t matter. The fact that having the capability to put different elements in one container and control them with one single click is welcome.
Especially when it comes to projects with vast numbers of groups, it’s getting hard to keep track of them. And even harder to coordinate with other colleagues. I don’t say it’s not possible, but it’s getting more comfortable when having the option to add a title to the group number.
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Software version: SOFiSTiK FEA v2020-02.