We have recently become aware that the version of the OrcaFlex spreadsheet released with OrcaFlex 9.2 has some performance problems. These do not always manifest themselves and we have not seen the problems ourselves. Fortunately a small number of clients have raised the issue and we have been able, with help from those clients, to diagnose the problem. We have released an updated version of the OrcaFlex post-processing spreadsheet which corrects the fault. If you are suffering from slower than usual results extraction in the spreadsheet then you are probably experiencing this problem.
While we are on the subject of the post-processing spreadsheet it seems appropriate to announce some of the changes we are making for 9.3. As you are probably aware the post-processing spreadsheet is implemented using Excel VBA macros. These link, in turn, to the OrcaFlex code through our OrcFxAPI DLL.
VBA macros have many strengths but we have become somewhat constrained by their limitations. For 9.3 we will be moving all the code into the OrcFxAPI DLL. One immediate benefit of this is that our spreadsheet template will no longer contain any macros and so will not be subject to Excel’s macro security dialogs.
For 9.3 we are planning to keep the user-interface to the spreadsheet identical to previous versions. We are, however, planning one very significant change to the implementation. All previous versions processed instructions serially and made no use of the multi-core processors that are now commonplace. It is not possible to perform calculations in parallel with VBA macros. Moving the processing code into the OrcFxAPI DLL will enable us to process load case results extractions in parallel. This should significantly reduce the time taken to post-process results.
This development is currently partially complete and we have not yet implemented the multi-threading of the results extraction. I look forward to being able to write about the performance of the multi-threading aspect of this work when it is complete. Hopefully I’ll be able to announce big improvements in extraction times.