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-   -   Some ideas for future developments and community involvement (

alberto August 12, 2007 15:56

Hello, I'm porting my solvers
I'm porting my solvers to OpenFOAM 1.4.1 from OpenFOAM 1.4 right now.

While solvers compile without changes, a wide set of libraries (BC's) I wrote need to be modified to work under the new version of OpenFOAM. They're "minor" changes, however they require time and I think (actually I know) they're one of the blockers to the adoption of OF.

This made me think to some suggestions to improve OpenFOAM user's experience in the future. Of course this has to be a common work of both community users and developers, driven by the common interest of making OpenFOAM easier and more accessible.

- Community users should try to better document the part of OpenFOAM they use. For example, I could document two-phase solvers, who use lagrangian models could document them, and so on. This would add a lot of value to OpenFOAM.

- New features and syntax changes should be documented, at least in their basic lines. I know there's doxygen, but it's quite disorienting for new users.

- I think the documentation should be put on the official wiki, so that it's accessible to the widest possible number of users. Spreading it on many sources just means loosing parts of it sooner or later.

- When possible, backward compatibility should be preserved among versions and inside the same release cycle.

- At least basic but widely used boundary conditions, like parabolic and polynomial profiles, should be added to the standard OpenFOAM distribution to simplify new user's life.

These are just some ideas of course. But if we start forming an active group, with the help of some developer for the toughest parts, we might be able to give a significant help to OpenFOAM and to OpenCFD guys.

Of course, comments are welcome.

With kind regards,

tehache August 13, 2007 05:46

I think very important step wo
I think very important step would be to have a CVS (or subversion..) repository, dont you?
Would help a lot to input things, and also would make an update to newr versions much easier, I think.
But I do very well understand that someone has to maintain that, and that this would cost a lot of work and time, which is probably the reason why its not there



alberto August 13, 2007 11:20

I agree, and there are free in
I agree, and there are free infrastructure providers like sourceforge and google code.

However, I really think we should join our efforts to add documentation of the existing features.

OpenFOAM is really a big challenge for a new user at the moment. I know some potential users who are just giving up due to this issue.


fra76 August 13, 2007 11:33

A subversion repository alread
A subversion repository already exists, and it should be feeded with official OpenCFD releases and some development version of the code.
As far as I know, it's not mantained by OpenCFD.
You can find it here:


alberto August 13, 2007 12:51

OK. Even though in my view the
OK. Even though in my view these ideas will be successful only with the involvement of both developers and community.

To be honest, I don't like the idea of having a lot of places for documentation, extensions and discussions because I think it's counterproductive.

It would be a lot better to work together and to put things in order and use the official sites (wiki, discussion board, eventually an svn).

Bernhard did a lot of work with the wiki, but contributions from the users could be a lot more, considering the number of users of OpenFOAM and the activity on the message board.


tehache August 14, 2007 03:42

maybe this message board is al
maybe this message board is already the best we can have...
After all, its a cooperative effort, you can search it, find a LOT of answers... In fact I think it is very well possible to learn OpenFOAM from this board and the doxygen documentation.

I have a question about the repository at source forge: what is beeing maintained there? Does it mean there are going to be 3 versions now (official one, Hrvoje's, and the third one at sourceforge?
I have seen its called OpenFOAM-Extensions, but in fact all the code seems to be there?
Can I use it instead of downloading the official releases?
I would really prefer to update my installation from time to time from a repository, instead of always starting over from the beginning after a new release...


alberto August 14, 2007 10:20

I agree Thomas. This forum is
I agree Thomas. This forum is the way by means of which we learnt/are learning OpenFOAM. And, of course, together with the manual and the wiki, it works, but it requires a lot of time and it is strongly discouraging beginners, which of course do comparisons with commercial codes they already use and decide to stick to them.

What I'm trying to say is that OpenFOAM now is like an extremely powerful and advanced tool of which you don't have the keys and you have to try to build them by yourself (not that extreme situation, but it gives the idea).
The learning curve is too long, due to various reasons. Some are solvable like the documentation issue or the backward compatibility one, some aren't like the need to know C++ quite well, which is already a strong deterrent, compared to the little C you have to know for example to use FLUENT. And unfortunately, while the code evolved a lot since it's release under GPL, little changed on the documentation side. With some evident exception, there's been little interest in improving this situation, I think.

About the SVN, at the moment it seems it contains the full source code too, so it should be ok to download from there.


mbeaudoin August 14, 2007 10:49

Hello, The "OpenFOAM extens

The "OpenFOAM extensions" site on SourceForge is basically a way for developpers and working groups to easily share source code and collaborate about OpenFOAM.

There was a presentation about this SVN site made during the Second OpenFOAM Workshop held last June in Zagreb:

You can grab a copy of the presentation here: lides/slidesBeaudoinZagreb2007.pdf

This is work in progress, we are still experimenting with the site; but already you can browse the SVN archive and download files if you want.

There is a copy of the latest official version of OpenFOAM available on the SVN site as well, but it is there only as a convenience in order to more easily download patches and bug fixes.

Hrv's versions should be made available from this SVN site as soon as possible as well.

Other "experimental" versions of OpenFOAM (or parts of OF) might also find their way over there eventually.

Finally, please take note that the official version of OpenFOAM is available from OpenCFD's Web site. If you need support with regards to the official OpenFOAM releases, please contact OpenCFD directly or simply ask around through this forum.

If you need support for the "experimental" versions, simply contact the developers of the experimental module.


alberto August 14, 2007 11:37

This is very nice. I lost the
This is very nice. I lost the presentation and the goals.

I have some doubt however:

1. Are two (or more) versions really necessary? Wouldn't it be better to develop add-ons as plugins to the official version?

2. All the additional, usually very advanced features, risk to be suitable only to a restricted set of users due to the issues about documentation I discussed above.


alberto August 14, 2007 15:00

Would an IRC channel be of som
Would an IRC channel be of some interest?

Various opensource projects use this way of communication to keep in touch and to help each other. Freenode seems a good place where to create it, if you think it's a good idea.


paka August 14, 2007 16:15

I think that would be great. N
I think that would be great. Not everyone has to use it, but it is good to have such a thing.

alberto August 14, 2007 16:48

I tried to register #openFOAM
I tried to register #openFOAM on freenode, but it was registered by someone else about 1 year ago. So I registered #openFOAM-IRC.

Here are the configuration parameters to access to it:

- IRC Server:
- Channel: #openFOAM-IRC

If you have a configured IRC client which integrates with your browser, just click on the following link:



tehache August 15, 2007 04:22

frankly - I do not think that
frankly - I do not think that channel is such a good idea. Not everyone will use it, and why split up discussion into more separate groups?
What can you do there you cant do here?
Just my opinion...


alberto August 15, 2007 14:08

Probably a more direct interac
Probably a more direct interaction, if needed. It's not an alternative to the discussion board of course, just an addition, of course.


philippose August 15, 2007 14:26

Hello Alberto, I appreciate
Hello Alberto,

I appreciate your efforts in trying to bring together the OpenFOAM users community :-)!

You are right in that the number of users of OpenFOAM seem to be rising with each passing day, but at a rate which could probably be higher, if the transition from a commercial code (or nothing at all before) to OpenFOAM could be made easier, and smoother.

On the other hand, I am not sure if an IRC at an independent website is the right way to go.

I too find the concept of a "more direct", and "realtime" interaction really amazing... and would help solve lots of questions much faster... but...... currently, we have this forum, which is more or less the ultimate source of information for beginners, and experts alike. It is not only extremely active, but it also has the entire history, in a searchable form, going back to 2005 (maybe earlier!).

A realtime interaction, would be more effective, if the people involved also had access to the posts on this forum at the same time.

My suggestion would be, to see if it would be possible to include an IRC channel to this forum, within the same website, and interface.

For example, it would be excellent if we had an additional link on the left hand side where we currently have "Discussion", "Documentation", etc... which would take us to the chat interface.... with the "screen name" being the same as the "username" we use on this forum (or guest... if unregistered).

That way, it would reduce "scattering" of the knowhow, and knowledge. Anyone who visits this forum, would be able to easily dive into the IRC. A new user of OpenFOAM would not have to explicitly be told, or look around, for the IRC... it would just be there when she/he visits the forum, which would be the first thing any new user would do.

To cut a long story short.... it would keep things together.... :-)!

What do you think?? Any idea who maintains this forum website?



alberto August 15, 2007 15:15

First of all I absolutely don'
First of all I absolutely don't consider IRC an alternative to this discussion board. It's an idea to improve user's interaction and hopefully cooperation. Let's see if it will work. If not, we tried ;-)

I also agree with the need to keep things together. That's the point I tried to stress since the beginning of this discussion :-)

I think this discussion board is maintained by OpenCFD guys.

For the insertion of the link, it would be nice, but I don't know if it's possible.

At the moment, I put it in the wiki FAQ's. Do you think it's OK? Or too hidden? ions_about_openFOAM.3F

I think that, for the most interesting discussions, logs might be published too. Of course, if participants agree :-)


gschaider August 15, 2007 15:31

Hi Philippose! I agree with
Hi Philippose!

I agree with you that the ways of communication should be as unified as possible.

I think that real questions about OF should ALWAYS be asked on the message board. Chat systems tend to lead to less well formulated questions (and answers) and will be almost incomprehensible if more than 1.53 conversations are held at the same time (and making it searchable wouldn't help here, because if the question about those LES-boundary conditions is answered half an hour later - and after a conversation about an installation problem, and another one about the usage of the AutoPtr-template - it won't be of any use to anybody).

What chat systems are good for are social interaction and imidiate problem solution. So the applications I see for such a thing would be for questions like: "Is the message board down, or is it me?" "Will you be in London in November?" or the popular "Please send me the tarball of your solver, too" (usually repeated 3 times by different persons). And I don't think there is any need to archive that.

Last point is that chat-servers are notoriously hard to run in a secure fashion and nobody here in his sane mind would want to run such a server. Therefor I think freenode is as good a choice as any, if those in the community interested in such a thing (IRC) agree on one place


philippose August 15, 2007 15:37

Hi again Alberto, Sorry if
Hi again Alberto,

Sorry if I sounded otherwise.... I was not at all "accusing" you of trying to replace this discussion board with an IRC (but... if you are... then watch out :-)!)

Anyway... I am sure someone from the group of people who maintain this forum will also read this message... so, hopefully we will get a response regarding starting an IRC channel within this website, soon.

I guess for starters, as you said... lets see how things go with the IRC you registered, and whether it becomes popular among the users :-)!

About logging :-)! Now you are stepping into troubled waters :-)! (Looks like you need to watch your back anyway :-)!)

Have a nice day!


alberto August 15, 2007 15:45

I agree with Bernhard: running
I agree with Bernhard: running an IRC server by ourselves is not a good idea. What we can probably do is to put the direct irc link in a visible place.

If you paste this URL in firefox, it should try to start your IRC client


At least, this is the behaviour it has on openSUSE and SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop.

About logs, I don't log by default ;-)


philippose August 15, 2007 15:57

Ok... looks like I was too qui
Ok... looks like I was too quick in putting in my last post :-)!

I agree with you Bernhard... I guess with the millions of "IRC Bots" floating around the net, it will only be a matter of hours before we start seeing weird activity on the IRC :-)! Suddenly we will start seeing more than just LES Boundary Conditions, and AutoPtr templates ;-)!

On the other hand... as you mentioned... an IRC is good for social interaction, which is not such a bad thing in this situation too.

After all, the users of OpenFOAM are humans (atleast I think so :-O!), and sometimes, its not too bad for people to interact at a level which is slightly more "personal". In many cases, the "realtime" aspect of an IRC can be advantageous.

Due to the large variety of fields OpenFOAM is currently applied in, it would promote spontaneous "brain-storming" sessions.... or "jam sessions" as I like to call it...which could lead to new applications, techniques, ideas, etc..etc...

Or, it could bring together people who are geographically close together, leading to the creation of "user groups"...

Or, "experts" in specific areas, could for example... log on at a predetermined time say... once a month or something, when people can pose questions to which if possible, immediate answers can be obtained (if not, it could be answered later via E-Mail or this forum), and everyone present can benefit....

etc...etc....etc... :-)!

I was just thinking laterally, on what use an IRC could be to this forum :-) Sorry if I "blabbered" too much....!


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