Courses: Introduction to GoldSim:

Unit 16 - Creating Dashboards and Player Files

Lesson 11 - Unit 16 Summary

The person using your model (e.g., a client, a regulator, a manager, or some other stakeholder) may not have the background and/or interest to view the details of your model structure.  Nevertheless, they may still want to interact with the model at a very high level by changing some of the input parameters, running the model and viewing results (e.g., asking “what if” questions with the model) . This makes the model much more accessible and hence more likely that the model will be trusted and ultimately used to support decision making.  

To support this, GoldSim provides two powerful capabilities:

  • The ability to create a “shell” around your GoldSim model (in the form of a graphical user interface that you design referred to as a Dashboard), such that the model can be easily used by someone without requiring them to be familiar with either the GoldSim modeling environment or the details of the specific model.
  • Models with (and without) Dashboards can be saved as Player files and subsequently opened using the GoldSim Player, which can be downloaded for free from the GoldSim website. Hence, GoldSim models that you have created can be viewed, edited (via a Dashboard) and run by others without requiring them to have a licensed version of GoldSim.

This Unit described how to use these important capabilities. In particular, the key points that we covered were as follows:

  • Dashboards are GoldSim elements, and you add them to your model just as you do so for other elements, by inserting them using the context menu in the graphics pane, the main menu or the Element toolbar. Like Containers, you “look inside” a Dashboard by clicking on the small triangle in the upper left-hand corner of the symbol. 
  • The Dashboard itself can be thought of as the canvas on which you are creating the interface to your model. You cannot insert GoldSim elements inside a Dashboard (if you try, you will notice that GoldSim will not allow you to do so).  Rather, you can only insert various Dashboard controls (using the Controls toolbar) and graphics (using the Drawing Tools toolbar). By default, both of these toolbars are docked on the right side of the graphics pane.
  • Input controls (such as edit fields, sliders check boxes, combo boxes, and input grids) are connected directly to GoldSim Data elements in the model, so that the user can modify the linked elements in a simple and direct manner without having to be familiar with the GoldSim interface. Once an element is linked to an input control, the only way to edit the element in GoldSim is through the control itself.
  • Output controls (e.g., display fields, thermometers and dynamic status displays) to the Dashboard, and then connect these directly to the outputs of GoldSim elements so that key results can be easily displayed.
  • Button controls can have any name and can trigger a number of actions, including running and closing the file, viewing a specific result chart or table, jumping to a Container, an element, or another Dashboard, opening another application (e.g., PowerPoint), and viewing a web page (i.e., a hyperlink).
  • GoldSim provides a number of advanced Dashboard options, including the ability to dynamically hide controls, and run scenarios from a Dashboard.
  • Dashboards can be used within GoldSim by placing the Dashboard into Active view.
  • A GoldSim model (with or without Dashboards) can be saved as a Player file. Player files can be opened using the GoldSim Player, which is a free download.  As a result, Player files can be modified (via Dashboards) and run without having a licensed version of GoldSim.  This allows you to easily distribute your model to clients, managers, regulators and other stakeholders.
  • A Player file appears to be a custom application. Users don’t need to know anything about GoldSim to change the inputs and run the model.  Any instructions required can be provided via tool-tips and text.

The concepts discussed are relatively simple, and the tools are straightforward to use. Moreover, GoldSim provides many tools (some of which we did not discuss in this Lesson) to help you design and organize your Dashboards and Player files (and you can read about these in GoldSim Help).

Once you start to build Dashboards, however, you will quickly discover that it can often be very time-consuming to create them.  This is because a Dashboard is a user interface. Designing a user interface is as much an art as a science.  You want the interface to be attractive and easy to understand and use.  This typically requires very careful design and experimentation.

There is no one correct way to create a Dashboard.  However, looking at how others have created Dashboards is often the best way to become more proficient at designing them. One way to do this is to view some models with Dashboards in the GoldSim Model Library.  The Model Library is a collection of models on the GoldSim website. By browsing through the Model Library, you can view examples of how to others have designed Dashboards.  We will discuss the Model Library in more detail in the next (and final) Unit.