0 Votes

Basic concepts

Version 55.2 by Fredrik Lagerström on 2020/03/18 09:38

User interface

Each module has a similar user interface and consists of the following parts:

Menu bar | Tab menus | Toolbars | Application window | Quick tools | Status bar | Tool palette | Dialog


Menu Bar

The Menu bar contains file operations (File), editing commands (Edit), drawing (Draw), assistant tools (Tools), settings (Settings), views (View), window-system (Window) and user-guides, license info and about (Help).

Menu commands having icons next to their names can be organized in Toolbars around the Application window. Some commands can be executed by hotkey displayed behind the command name.

Tab menus

Tab menus contain the main functionalities and their order displays the recommended structural design workflow.

Tab menuFunction
1584520572121-451.pngTools to define axis and storey system, structural elements, supports and connections
1584520578867-196.pngTools to define load cases, loads, load combinations and load groups
1584520584481-921.pngTools to define finite elements and finite element mesh
1584520590723-456.pngTools to run analysis for the current project and to display results

Foundation design

Tools to run automatic and manual design for foundations and to display results
1584520597599-565.pngTools to run automatic and manual design for concrete elements and to display results
1584520604845-203.pngTools to run automatic and manual design for steel bars and to display results
1584520611557-473.pngTools to run automatic and manual design for timber elements and to display results
Performance based designOnly available for Turkish seismic analysis

By default, Tab menus have different Object layer settings to protect their elements from the others. That means, for example, structural elements (defined at Structure tab) are protected against load editing (Load tab) although they can selected for load definition. Of course, the available layers of tabs can be customized (Status bar > Current layer). The optional module Documentation can be launched from the Tab menus bar


The Menu bar commands can be grouped in toolbars with their icons and placed next to Application window.

By default, all five toolbars are displayed. If you right-click anywhere on the menu or on one of the displayed toolbars, a list appears, where toolbars can be set visible or hidden.

customize toolbar 001.png

Customize… allows you to edit the command content of the toolbar, on which the right-click is used. A toolbar can be moved into new position by dragging it with its “Top/Left thick horizontal/vertical line”.

Application window

Two main windows types are available in FEM-Design:

  • Graphical window
    It works as a drawing board and displays the model defined in the current project.
  • Detailed result window
    Analysis and design results with detailed background calculation formulas (code references), figures and tables can be displayed by single elements or by design groups in separate windows. Quick navigation is powered with zooming details.

An arbitrary number of windows can be opened (Window menu) to show for example a model in different views at the same time. The list of the currently available windows is shown at the bottom of the windows (tabs) and in the Window menu. You can swap between the windows by clicking on their name tabs or by choosing the requested one in the Window menu. Applied windows can be arranged by Window > Arrange. Right-clicking on a window tab, the window’s name can be edited.

application window_FD19.00.001.png

Quick tools

Quick tools is a tool window that contains the often used functions such Layers, Results and Filter.

Quick tools 001.png

Quick tools can be enabled in several ways:

  1. Settings > Environment > General > Quick tools
  2. Right click on the toolbars > Quick tools
  3. Window tab > Other windows > Quick tools

Quick tool window can be placed anywhere on the screen and it can be docked to the left and right side of the FEM-Design model view area. The docked Quick tool window can be also collapsed.

Quick tools 002.png

Status bar

The Status bar is situated under the Application window and separated into the following parts.

status bar_FD19.00.001.png

  • Command
    Field to enter coordinates and shortcut commands. Command line also displays additional messages to show the steps of the current command.
  • Selection
    Number of the selected elements (bars, shells, supports, loads, etc.) can be seen in the lower part of design area.
  • Co-ordinate box
    It shows the exact coordinates of the crosshair cursor in the current co-ordinate system. Coordinates can be also given for point/direction definition in a dialog appears after clicking on the Co-ordinate box (see Entering Co-ordinates).
  • Layer button
    Clicking the button opens the Quick tools-tab. All layer operations like defining new, renaming, color-assignment, showing/hiding and deleting are available in the layer-system dialog.
  • Point/Direction editor
    Editor tools provide reference points and lines by using existing lines and points during element definition, drawing and editing.
  • Object snap tools
    Here you can set the snapping distance and turn object snaps on and off.

Tool palette

In most cases, a command/tool has own palette (Tool palette) that contains its definition and setting tools.

toolbar 001.png

Figure: An example for tool palette (Beam command in 3D Structure module)

The parts of a tool palette are:

  • Toolbar - It gives the editing modes and their additional tools. The main editing modes are:
    • Define: creates new objects according to its current settings (“Default settings”).
    • Properties: asks and/or changes the properties of selected object(s).
  • Default settings - If this button has 3D shape, then you can set all default parameters for the new object. Otherwise, it only shows the symbol of the function.
  • Main settings - The frequently changed parameters of the new object (Define) can be set directly in tool palette.

You can usually use a dialog to modify the settings, the properties of a command; it contains text and number fields where you can set parameter values.
The main difference between dialogs and Tool palettes is that you can work beside an opened tool palette, but cannot at a dialog.
There are three main switch types at a dialog or a tool palette: check boxes, radio and chain buttons.

Chain button 001.png

Figure: Function of chain buttons

In case chain button exists and it is “Active” (pushed in), any changes made to the related edit box will be transferred to the next edit box automatically. It gives a quick definition of defining surface elements with constant thickness, loads with constant intensities etc.


The Default settings dialog is used to change the properties of new objects. It usually contains a General tab where many commands and identifiers are shown, some dialogs also contains tabs for cross sections, materials and boundary conditions/connections.

dialog 001.png

Tags: Manual
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