Data files

OrcaFlex models are saved to either binary data files (.dat) or text data files (.yml).

Binary data files have strong version compatibility features. For example, when OrcaFlex attempts to open a binary data file written by a later version of the program it is able to report informative compatibility warnings. It is not able to be as helpful and informative when working with text data files across program versions. Whilst we strive to achieve as much compatibility as possible for text data files across program versions, we cannot achieve the same level of compatibility as that for binary data files.

Text data files, as written by OrcaFlex, contain only data that are active in the model. For example, if implicit time integration is selected in the model then all data relating to explicit time integration are excluded from the text data file. On the other hand, binary data files contain all data, active or not. The fact that the binary data file contains inactive data can be very useful and so, in general, we would recommend that model building and development is performed using the binary data file.

Text data files can be created without the use of OrcaFlex simply by entering text into a text editor. In general we would not advocate this approach to model building. For very simple systems it may be a practical approach but more complex models are usually much easier to build and inspect using the full capabilities and visualisation strengths of OrcaFlex. On the other hand, text data files can be very effective when making minor changes to existing models. Using text data files for such minor variations of existing models makes it much easier to monitor just what has been changed, for example by using standard text differencing programs.

Text data files are highly readable and self-documenting which makes them ideal for QA and archival purposes. Another application well suited to the use of text data files is automation.

Text data file program version compatibility

As mentioned above, text data files written by one version of OrcaFlex may not be compatible with other OrcaFlex versions. This is the main reason we recommend using the binary data file for your model data and to use text data files principally for automation tasks.

In case you do need to open text data files prepared with a different version of OrcaFlex, there is a conversion utility available from the Tools menu. The conversion process makes use of the high levels of compatibility afforded by the binary data file. The conversion process takes as input a text data file written with OrcaFlex version A, say. The output is a text data file compatible with the version that performs the conversion, version B say. The procedure is as follows:

As mentioned above, version B is implicitly taken to be the version of OrcaFlex that performs the conversion. To specify version A, you provide the path to the OrcFxAPI DLL for version A. So, in the example below, version A is specified to be OrcaFlex 10.2.

Figure: Text data file conversion tool

The input text data files are added to the files list, either using the add files button, or by drag and drop. Although the above discussion considered OrcaFlex model data files only, the conversion tool can also handle fatigue data files and OrcaWave data files.

When you are ready to perform the conversion, press the convert button.

Warning: You should only convert text data files that specify base case models. Do not convert text data files that use the IncludeFileidentifier. If you do convert such files, the IncludeFile identifier will be processed and lost.