An application-centred framework for distributed engineering applications
The conceptual structure of an application that can support the structural analysis task in a distributed collaboratory is described in (van Rooyen and Olivier 2004). The application described there has a standalone component for executing the finite element method on a local workstation in the absence of network access. This application is comparable to current, local workstation based finite element packages. However, it differs fundamentally from standard packages since the application itself, and its objects, are adapted to support distributed execution of the analysis task. Basic aspects of an object-oriented framework for the development of applications which can be used in similar distributed collaboratories are described in this paper. An important feature of this framework is its application-centred design. This means that an application can contain any number of engineering models, where the models are formed by the collection of objects according to semantic views within the application. This is achieved through very flexible classes Application and Model, which are described in detail. The advantages of the application-centred design approach is demonstrated with reference to the design of steel structures, where the finite element analysis model, member design model and connection design model interact to provide the required functionality.
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