Welcome to the December 2010 edition of AMBER Update, the electronic newsletter for the AMBER software tool that allows users to build their own deterministic and probabilistic dynamic compartment models to represent the migration, degradation and fate of contaminants in environmental and engineered systems.
Quintessa has just released AMBER 5.4, and this edition of AMBER Update provides an overview of the new features. Users with active software maintenance agreements will be receiving the upgrade in the next few weeks. As always the AMBER support team welcomes your feedback and suggestions for future developments.
The AMBER icon has been updated (above left) and there are new images on the tool bar (below) and also on the tool palette.
In developing models, sharing case files and/or checking/auditing case files, it is good practice to include descriptions that help explain the implementation. The number of items that can have an associated text description has been extended to include namesets, nameset selections, correlations and availability schemes. Comments can now also be added to individual mappings and to individual parameter items. The comments are added by clicking on the new Comment... button on the Parameter Information and/or Edit Mapping Information windows, which opens an Edit Comment dialogue. Parameter or mapping items that have associated comments are highlighted with a red indicator in the top-right-hand corner of the associated cell. When the cell is selected, the associated comment is visible in the new Comment box (see right).
One of AMBERs strengths is the option of using the text-based case file as a basis for quality assuring models. In auditing the text based case file against the specification for the model and data, users need to be aware of where items within a parameter are picking up default expressions. This is now made easier by a new Save Special option that enables the user to save a version of the case file that explicitly includes the default entry against all items that use it within a parameter. The option is available via File | Save Special... | Reporting Defaults (see right).
The option of plotting charts to the old internal charting package QCharter has been removed. Internal graphing is now managed via Q2DGrapher, which is more user-friendly than QCharter and enables the chart data to be copied and pasted into other programs and/or saved as comma separated files. The option to graph directly to Microsoft Excel remains available.
The internal AMBER parameters Amount and Availability are only generated following a calculation. For this reason, observer parameters (i.e. those that depend on the amount of contaminants in compartments) and availability expressions could not be checked prior to calculation. AMBER 5.4 generates temporary Amount and Availability parameters if parameters are being checked prior to calculation, enabling observers and availability to be checked.
Users can now align selected items on the model window by right-clicking and choosing from the Align Selected options. This is in addition to the menu option View | Align.
Arrows associated with full transfers, split transfers, external transfers and/or sources can now be coloured differently under the View | Colour | Arrows... menu option (see right).