The Program Window

program in wide layout

Figure 1: PFC in its “wide” layout. The View pane titled “Plot 1” is active — indicated by the darker blue color of its title bar.

The central tenet of the program’s interface is this:

at any time, one pane will be active.

Work within that pane will be accomplished with the facilities provided by the toolbar and the Control Panel, the contents of which are contextual to the currently active pane.

The idea here is that the model development environment has to solve the problem of how to be many programs in one:

  • a console application (the Console pane)
  • a text editor (the Edit pane)
  • a plotting/visualization program (the View pane)
  • a project management suite (the Project and State Record panes)
  • a Python console application (the iPython pane)
  • a 2d interactive visual extrusion tool (the Extrude tool in FLAC3D)
  • a 3d interactive meshing-from-blocks tool (the Building Blocks tool in FLAC3D)

So a pane comprises a single logical function, and it enlists the toolbar and the Control Panel (as well as the status bar and menus, too, to an extent) for its purposes. Put the program in its “single” layout (on the main menu choose Layout ‣ Single) and this fundamental principle is best illustrated.

All work in the program boils down to pane+toolbar+control panel. However, the reality is that most users will want to use the program window to show more than one pane at a time. This raises the second major tenet of the interface:

the program layout is mostly susceptible to arrangement by the user.

The exceptions are these: the main menu, the main toolbar, status bar, and the Control Panel cannot be moved — though the Control Panel can be shuttered. All other components (that is, all panes) may be arranged by the user according to preference.

The preceding sections have covered the use of these components within the modeling process. The present section is devoted to explaining their use in the more general sense of identifying the role they are intended to play in the program and how they are expected to interact with each other.

CS: the file flac3d program layout hangs off “scrap” which is now commented; it may or may not contain information to be incorporated elsewhere