This is an application to enable starting of the locally installed models as soon as data is downloaded from the EVOLTREEModelling Platform.
When data have been selected from the TreeMBase, they are packed into a single file for easier downloading. An accompanying instruction script contains the information about which model the data were prepared for, and how to start the model with the newly downloaded data.
The application is available for the Windows platforms only. However, since it is a very small project, it could be easily rewritten to be used with other operating systems too.
The data that are extracted from the TreemMBase through the Modelling Platform are packed into a single zipfile, along with a minute file with some metadata. The extension of the zipfile is sufficiently unique (.ev is used at the moment) to associate the starter application with. Then the web browser passes the downloaded file to EMPlaSA.
EMPlaSA is installed with a list of models available at the local system. It unpacks the zipfile, reads the metadata to see which model to activate, copies the data to the directory specified by the model, and finally starts the model with the appropriate arguments to use the downloaded data.
No automatic installation procedure is available at the moment. Therefore, please proceed the following steps to manually install the starter:
- download the starter application from the EvolTree Modelling Platform Website
- unzip the files to the directory of your choice
- start the application by double-clicking it; it will open the configuration screen, which is explained below
- associate the file extension .ev with EMPlaSA.exe
- in your browser, associate the mime type application/evoltree.ev with EMPlaSA.exe
When EMPlaSA is started by double clicking it, it will open with the configuration screen. Here you have the possibility to (re-)register models to the program. The registered models must have been succesfully installed on your computer as EMPlaSA does not take care of this.
For each model, enter the following data:
- the commandline: This will usually be the full path to the modelling environment's executable file, followed by the full path of the model's main file name. If you are not sure about the syntax, then first try it in a DOS batch file until the model is started.
- the working directory: This will serve as the base directory to unzip the downloaded datafiles (as explained below in detail).
Models that are not available may be left blank, or removed entirely. In case EMPlaSA should try to activate such a model, it will stop with a neat message. More models may be added by using the new-button. Note, however, that the model names must be identical to the ones used by the platform.
The configuration is stored into the file EMPlaSA.models, which is a text file that can be changed by using a text editor.
What is in the metadata?
The metadata is generated by the Modelling Platform. Therefore, this paragraph is relevant only for model owners who ultimately are to provide the metadata. Please contact the author in case more information for your model is to be conveyed by the metadata.
The metadata is contained in a file called .instructions that is included in the downloaded zipfile (=.ev-file). Two items ought to be provided by the metadata:
- the model name
- the subdirectory where to put the datafiles; this directory is relative to the working directory of the model configuration (if left blank, the working directory is used)
What is in the Working Directory?
The Working Directory contains a template batch file (.ScriptTemplate) to start the model with the downloaded data. The usage of a template rather than a ready-to-use batch file enables substitution of arguments from the metadata and information from the configuration. (It is, however, completely valid not to use any substitutions at all, if you'd like that better). EMPlaSA generates EvolTreeRun.bat that is activated to run the model.
The following substitutions are supported:
- %datadir%: the subdirectory where is unzipped to
- %workdir%: the working directory form the configuration file
- %run%: the command line from the configuration file
- + any other fields from the configuration file
It is to the model owners to supply a batch template for their own model.
The data that comes from the Modelling platform is unzipped to a subdirectory of the working directory. This need not be the final destination of the data: the batch file may choose to move it to a more convenient place.
The following template would copy the file ExternalVars.inc from the downloaded data into the working directory and then execute the command line given in the configuration file:
COPY %datadir%ExternalVars.inc %workdir%
Would be translated to:
COPY D:\Projects\EvolTree\Model\Test\DOWNLO~1\ExternalVars.inc D:\Projects\EvolTree\Model\Test
"C:\Program Files\NSM\NSM.exe" D:\Projects\EvolTree\Model\Test\TestStarter.def
Running the starter application (other than in configuration mode) is not something you would normally do yourself. instead, it will be invocated by the browser on downloading of the data package from the Modelling Platform. Then the program appears briefly with a console screen:
The execution is very vast and the program may be hidden by your model's environment. It will close within ten seconds after activation, unless you uncheck the close-mark at the bottom of the window.