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Civil-Comp Proceedings
ISSN 1759-3433
CCP: 81
Edited by: B.H.V. Topping
Paper 14

Internet based Analytical Services using a Java based GUI

H.M. Chen and Y.C. Lin

Department of Construction Engineering, National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, Taipei, Taiwan

Full Bibliographic Reference for this paper
H.M. Chen, Y.C. Lin, "Internet based Analytical Services using a Java based GUI", in B.H.V. Topping, (Editor), "Proceedings of the Tenth International Conference on Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering Computing", Civil-Comp Press, Stirlingshire, UK, Paper 14, 2005. doi:10.4203/ccp.81.14
Keywords: structural analysis, computer systems, internet, information technology, computer graphics.

The Internet has revolutionized the way computing is done, and the way software systems work. Many systems, such as search engines and PC games, have utilized web-related technologies for internet-based systems. However, the application of internet-based engineering software is still in its infancy, especially regarding engineering computing.

This paper presents a prototype development of an internet-based structural analysis system by utilizing modern computer graphics and information technology to provide an internet-based analytical service. The system design emphasizes platform-independence, graphical interface, system performance and a multiple-user environment. The user needs only an internet-connected machine to access high-performance services, provided at remote sites, over the web.

The basic idea was to separate traditional software package functions into two components, distributing them to client and server. The client computer component handles the presentation of data and interacts with the user. The server component handles the application's core computation. In order to integrate these two components to work as a single system, another component on the server machine was required for coordination over the internet.

On the client side, an interface program must allow communication and interaction with the service program, over the Internet. In addition, the service must be accessible by users, using any platform; thus, the interface program must be platform-independent. One solution to address these requirements is the use of a web browser, available on most computers, as the client-side interface; the user's input may be accepted and results may then be displayed using standard web components, such as text and images in tables or web forms. Using a web browser as an interface, however, is not the best way to display graphics. For structural analysis services, a graphical user interface program, with pre- and post-processor functionalities, is preferred for creating 3D models and graphically viewing analysis results. For some applications, the effective visual display of complex 3D time-dependent numerical data is critical. Therefore, the interface program must integrate high-quality and high-performance 3D visualization techniques for presentation of data, rather than text input and output, through web forms. Because platform-independence was a requirement, a platform-independent programming language, Java, was the choice for implementation of the client-side GUI. For convenience, and to completely avoid the necessity of client-side installation, the interface program was designed to be automatically downloaded, run, and finally removed, coincident with the life cycle of the service.

On the server side, the application program could be parallelized, and run on a cluster of machines or on a supercomputer, as a high-performance service provider. A Java-based management program was required to control application execution and communication with clients via input data and analysis results. In order to process and manage multiple tasks on the server side, a task scheduler was also required; in addition, to provide a stable service and secure user data, a fault handler, a database and the necessary network security equipment were required.

There are several advantages to implementing internet-based structural analysis software systems. The service program is maintained and updated at the computing center by specialists and researchers. Users always have the most up-to-date and functional system at their fingertips, with no client-side updates or maintenance is required. In addition, the application is platform-independent and has superior license protection.

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