Articles | Volume 2, issue 1
06 Mar 2009
 | 06 Mar 2009

Spud 1.0: generalising and automating the user interfaces of scientific computer models

D. A. Ham, P. E. Farrell, G. J. Gorman, J. R. Maddison, C. R. Wilson, S. C. Kramer, J. Shipton, G. S. Collins, C. J. Cotter, and M. D. Piggott

Abstract. The interfaces by which users specify the scenarios to be simulated by scientific computer models are frequently primitive, under-documented and ad-hoc text files which make using the model in question difficult and error-prone and significantly increase the development cost of the model. In this paper, we present a model-independent system, Spud, which formalises the specification of model input formats in terms of formal grammars. This is combined with an automated graphical user interface which guides users to create valid model inputs based on the grammar provided, and a generic options reading module, libspud, which minimises the development cost of adding model options.

Together, this provides a user friendly, well documented, self validating user interface which is applicable to a wide range of scientific models and which minimises the developer input required to maintain and extend the model interface.