Charts are important - they play a primary role in decision-making when it comes to evaluating CFD results. Have you ever counted how often you change a chart after you’ve first created it? I’ll speculate it’s more than you think… you’ll probably want to change line and symbol colors and styles, change the range on both axes, change the fonts, and then change the colors again… these picks and clicks and scrolls take time. If you are using Excel or Matlab to create your charts, you lose the implicit connection between the chart and the data sources within your .sim file - going back and forth between the two costs you more time. Worse still, if you’re used to a certain plotting package, there are differences compared to STAR-CCM+® on where in the UI you need to make those changes. In having to switch back and forth between plotting packages, the time spent looking for where you need to make a change is potentially greater than the time needed to actually make it. To understand and communicate the information your charts contain more quickly, and to make your finalized charts faster in STAR-CCM+, version 12.02 introduces Chart Highlighting.
When you start working with a chart in STAR-CCM+ v12.02, you’ll notice that hover interactions are enhanced - without having to make a single click you can get more information and better visual clarity. Specifically, we’ve added vertical and horizontal leader lines connecting your mouse position and the hover tip to the X and Y axes, respectively. For multi-axis plots, the leader lines automatically connect the data series with the underlying axis, a great visual cue providing information without the need to scroll through the data series properties. And the data series that you are tracking on is visually accentuated - all the other data series become transparent.
To quickly review or change how a data series is presented in your chart, the next step is to click on it. When you do this, a couple of things happen. First, the selected data series is colored magenta (our standard highlight color), and the line or bar is thickened; symbols get larger. If you have a legend visible, that data series within the legend is also highlighted. You’ve got strong visual cues to confirm that this is the data series you want to work with. And, just as with previous releases, the selected data series has the focus in the node tree - there’s no need to scroll. Now we’ve made things even better by letting you multi-select data series within your chart. That opens the door to multi-editing, a very productive and powerful way to make many changes at the same time – simply right mouse click on any of the data series highlighted in the node tree and edit them individually or all at once.
Highlighting works for all other plot elements as well. When you click on an axis, it is highlighted in the plot window, and the node tree where you can make property changes has the focus. This is how you would quickly change the range without having to scroll for the correct node with the properties you need.
So far, I’ve been focusing on the workflow connection from the plot window to the node tree. But highlighting works in the other direction just as well. You can click on the bottom axis in the node tree and see all of the bottom axis elements highlighted in your chart. Furthermore, you can descend to the title or the major labels and see just those objects highlighted.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out a feature, available prior to this release, that also reduces your time to produce many charts with a consistent look and feel - this is the ability to customize some of your plot attribute defaults (see Tools > Options > Plotting). While it isn’t intended to be comprehensive, it lets you change the plot on the left to look like the one on the right with one single click. These settings are persistent, and when you upgrade from release to release, your preferences get automatically passed along.
We believe these changes, taken together, are going to dramatically improve your productivity when it comes to making charts. You’ll be able to interactively review your data with ease, and you’ll be able to generate your final charts, ready for review and discussion, far more quickly. In no time, you’re going to be asking yourself how you ever got along without this set of chart highlighting enhancements!