Software Access Notes: Getting Started

* You first need a user account (user name and password) to access the web-based programs. Instructions are here.

* Download the Editor application appropriate to the program you want to run, such as SPMsim or Catsim. You can find these applications here. You will have access to all the available software, but you will need the appropriate Editor program for each program you wish to use. You should be familiar with the user manuals and their example problem(s) before attempting to use the software.

* There are several FAQs available, including literally hundreds of technical FAQs; you may wish to browse them early on in your experimenting for tips and guidance. Plan to go back often as these will be updated frequently as we discover problems, offer workarounds, etc.

* There is an "Access Software" link at the bottom of the left-hand frame of the home page. This is where you will go to access your account.

* You should be able to use any modern browser to access the software; try Safari or Firefox if Internet Explorer is problematic.

* Using the appropriate Editor application (ShipEdit.exe, for example, to access Shipsim), prepare a data file for submission (SHIPDAT, in this case).

* The login and execution process:

  1. Click on the "Access Software" button in the left-side window frame.
  2. Put your assigned user name and password in the indicated boxes.
  3. Upload your data file(s) (e.g., SHIPDAT) using the "Choose Data" button.
  4. Click the "Execute" button in the left-hand frame after the upload has completed.

Note: If you interrupt the execution in any way, perhaps by clicking on the "Back" browser button, or clicking on other "action" buttons (such as "Execute", "Archive", etc.) in the left-hand frame, you will very likely interfere with the completion of your job. This can even result in corruption of your log file, so please be patient and refrain from *any* browser activity in the active browser window until you receive notification from the server that the job has completed. Feel free to open a second browser window and visit your FaceBook page or check your email while you wait...

* Programs are executed immediately and, depending on server load, will usually be completed in less than a minute. Be patient, you will get progressive status messages in the working frame of your browser window during processing. (It will look something like this.) The message will indicate whether or not the program terminated normally and will display runtime messages produced by the program during execution.

* After the completion message appears, you can revisit your program directory to see the output files produced by clicking the left-hand pane "View Listing" button. The result should look something like this.

* Underlined files in this directory window can be downloaded to disk or viewed directly in the frame. How clicking on a file is handled depends on how your browser is configured. Here is what we recommend:

Output file extensions all have the suffix ".stxt". You should configure your browser and operating system so that these are known to be text files and handled like simple text (*.txt) files using the appropriate "Preferences" or "Properties".

* Once you have obtained satisfactory program output, you can request the server to create a suitable zip archive of all your input/output data files in the current directory (using the "Create Archive" button); this zipfile can then be downloaded in one step for storage and processing. Using this zip facility considerably reduces your data download times.

* Error messages that require user intervention on a dedicated locally-hosted application will usually result in program failure on the server. A "diagnostics.stxt" file is produced which logs all diagnostic output and can be used to help resolve execution problems.

* Limited information on each program execution request you make (such as time/date, program accessed, success or failure, etc.) is also logged in a permanent, cumulative file named "Account_Log.stxt" in each program directory.

* The output stream you would see on your computer screen if you were executing the same program/data file combination on your local computer is sent to your browser window at the termination of each remote program execution; this stream is also saved to a file called "diagnostics.stxt"; this is the first place to look for clues to problems that are preventing successful remote completion.


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