The Text Editor and SOFiSTiK Structural Desktop

If you are a user of SOFiSTiK, you are well aware of the endless features of the software. And, it’s up to you which input method to choose for your project and task – the graphical input or the text input.

In this post, I’d like to introduce you to the text input of SOFiSTiK. Don’t expect a too detailed explanation. It is more of an overview in which I will touch on the text input syntax, the text editor Teddy and its application window. And last but not least, how all this is integrated into SOFiSTiK Structural Desktop.

SOFiSTiK comes with lots of graphical input options to create, analyse and design your project. You can use AutoDesk AutoCAD in Autodesk Revit or McNeel Rhinoceros to create the structural model. The actual analysis and the design is done in SOFiSTiK Structural Desktop. And to finally create the report – SOFiSTiK Graphics and SOFiSTiK Reports got you covered.

But there is more than just the graphical input option. SOFiSTiK comes with a text interface integrated into all applications. The text interface unleashes the full capabilities of SOFiSTiK to optimise workflows tremendously. Read the “Increase Your Productivity with CADiNP and the LOOP Statement” post to get an idea of what I mean by that.

If the model generation is better done graphically, that’s absolutely fine. And to be fair, it is the preferred way for almost all SOFiSTiK users. But it might be more efficient to apply loads using the text input.

No worries, I don’t want to convince you using the text interface from now on. But I want to share a couple of things with you, which might change your thinking when using SOFiSTiK in the future.

By having the graphical and text input available, it is your turn, to pick the most efficient input method for your project and task. Why not benefit from both worlds.

Before getting into the text editor, let’s make a detour to look into something essential – the input syntax.

CADiNP – The Input Syntax

Every text interface comes with an input syntax. If you are not familiar with the term syntax yet, here is what says about it.

According to Wikipedia, programming syntax is defined as the following:

“In computer science, the syntax of a computer language is the set of rules that defines the combinations of symbols that are considered to be correctly structured statements or expressions in that language.”

The syntax used in SOFiSTiK is CADiNP. The core of it is built on the back of CADINT. CADINT was a syntax developed during a research project for the CAD industry back in 1976 in Germany.
The founders of SOFiSTiK at that time recognised the advantages of CADINT’s simplicity. So further improvements to extend its capabilities were made. And it finally resulted in the CADiNP syntax as it is used across the SOFiSTiK product line.

I am not going further into CADiNP now. There is more to come about it in the future, so stay tuned.
Instead, I’d like to introduce you to the SOFiSTiK Text Editor. And believe it or not, the most powerful weapon in SOFiSTiK’s arsenal is branded with a yellow teddy bear.


TEDDY – The Text Editor

TEDDY is a text editor which fully supports and utilises the CADiNP syntax.

Along with functionalities to support you in creating the input itself, the text editor comes with an interactive user manual. Which is essential when start using the text interface.

You can open TEDDY by a double-click on the program icon on your desktop. Or use the windows search and enter teddy.
The file extension of the SOFiSTiK input files is *.dat. After the installation, all *.dat files should show the Teddy icon. However, the text editor isn’t to the SOFiSTiK input files only. You can use TEDDY for any other text files too.

Let’s have a quick look into the different sections of the application window.

Teddy - Application Window

1 Menu

The menu comes with standard commands you expect from any other application, as well as calculation related commands.

2 Ribbons

In version 2020 the navigation switched entirely to ribbons. For someone who used version 2018, it was a bit of a change. However, I find it much more organised now.

3 Edit Bar

The “Edit bar” comes with commands to open recent used *.dat files, to navigate to specific locations in the input file, to format the input text and to search for information.

4 Module Bar

Besides the command to show the Module tree, you get options to activate/deactivate program modules of your input code.

5 Interactive Help

I already mentioned the user manual. To open it, you can either go to the “Help” ribbon and the tab “Module:”. It’s the command “CADINP Help” at the very right. Alternatively, just hit the “F1” key.

6 Module Tree

All defined modules, chapters, labels, and system commands will show up in the task tree.

7 Input Area

This is the place where you enter the syntax.

8 Taskbar – File / Project tabs

All open files/projects in TEDDY are shown in the taskbar.

9 Status bar – Command Summary, active module name and unit information

The status bar divides into two parts

  • Summary of available items of the entered command (left-hand side) and
  • Active program module and information about chosen Units (right-hand side).

To read more about the different sections and commands of the Text Editor TEDDY, download the free TEDDY – Introduction Guide.

Text Editor Integration in the SOFiSTiK Applications

Besides the stand-alone application of TEDDY, you can access it almost all graphical applications such as SOFiSTiK Structural Desktop, SOFiPLUS (AutoCAD), Autodesk Revit, McNeel Rhinoceros, SOFiSTiK Result and SOFiSTiK Graphic and more.

In the following paragraphs you will learn more about the where to find TEDDY in SOFiSTiK Structural Desktop.

SOFiSTiK Structural Desktop allows to access and organise graphical tasks as well as teddy input tasks. The application controls pre-processing, processing and post-processing. The entire project is organised within the SOFiSTiK Structural Desktop.

Besides using the graphical tasks in SOFiSTiK Structural Desktop, you can open the text editor TEDDY too. To either work on text input task or to edit any other text file.

The embedded version of the text editor and the stand-alone application comes with the same capabilities. So need for worries regarding missing out on features.

Let’s look into the different sections where to access TEDDY or generate data for the text input within.

Start a new project

When starting a new project in SOFiSTiK Structural Desktop (SSD), you can decide which pre-processing application you want to use. Several options are available in the drop-down of section “Preprocessing”.

Besides Autodesk Revit, SOFiPLUS (AutoCAD) and others, “TEDDY – Textinput” is the one to pick for text-based modelling of the structure.

System Information - Preprocessor

After confirming the SOFiSTiK System Information dialogue box by left mouse click, two yellow Teddy tasks will show up in the left-handed “Project Navigation”.

Project Navigation SSD
  • Text Interface for Model Creation.
    It’s a placeholder for the text input of the module SOFiMSHA for system definition.
  • Text Interface for Loads.
    It’s a placeholder for the text input of the module SOFiLOAD for load definitions.

To start entering the code, just double-click on the icons.

Add the Text Interface as Task

If you started your project with any of the graphical pre-processors, no worry, adding a text task is possible at any time.
There are two ways to add a new task to the Project Navigation in the SOFiSTiK Structural Desktop.

  • Ribbon “Home” – “Insert Task” Command
Insert Task - Ribbon

By right-click within the “Project Navigation.”

Insert Task - Context Menu

The above options open the “SOFiSTiK: Insert New Task” dialogue box, which represents the library of available tasks.

Insert New Tasks - Task Library

Types of available text editor tasks in SSD

You can choose from three text editor tasks. There is no difference in the input capabilities of those. However, there is a difference in where you can place them in the Project Navigation.

  • The “Text Editor” task can be found in the task group “General”. It can be added at a random location in the Project Navigation after it was added.
  • The yellow text editor tasks “Text Input for Modeling” and “Text Input for Loads” in task group “System” are linked to system generation and load definition. They can be added to the group “System” within the “Project Navigation” only.
Project Navigation SSD

Edit and Convert Graphical Tasks

As mentioned earlier, the text input is available across the SOFiSTiK environment. Besides accessing TEDDY from almost every application, it also means that information entered graphically can be converted to text.

To access the input, right-click on the task, in the context menu, select “Convert to User Task”.

Convert to User Task - Context Menu

If a graphical task was converted to a text task by mistake, use the undo command. It restores the graphical task. Furthermore, it keeps the generated text input task too. If you ask me, this is quite handy, especially when starting off with the text input.

The “Text Editor” command in the context menu is for viewing purpose only. Any modification done in the text input gets lost after the task was reaccessed with the graphical user interface.

So, please pay attention if you intend to do any modifications

Extract information of the database as a text file

Besides converting single graphical tasks to text input, SOFiSTiK allows to export data saved in the CDB (Central Database) as *.dat file. This command is available in the Teddy application as we las in SOFiSTiK Structural Desktop.

Database Tools - Command

Start the export from the “Database Tools” within the “Home” ribbon and tab “Tools.” The “Export to DAT” command opens the “SOFiSTiK: Export 2020” dialogue box.

Export to DAT - Window

Select the information available in the database by ticking the checkboxes and to generate the target file with the requested information.

After confirming the selection, TEDDY opens and shows the generated information.

I hope the above gives you a rough idea about the text interface and the syntax. There is more to come about it in my future posts as the power of using text input over the graphical input is unbeatable. So stay tuned!


Also Check out the following two videos. Jürgen presents the basics but also touches on more advanced input options of CADiNP.

Text Input in SOFiSTiK FEA Fundamentals Online Course

This course will teach you the fundamentals of Text Input in SOFiSTiK. You will learn about the Text Editor, the Input Structure and the Syntax CADiNP. With every lesson, new commands and input options will be introduced and discussed while working on your script.


Wrap up

A text interface always looks scary and stressful when being confronted with it the very first time. But looking at it from a perspective of efficiency and workflow optimisation it gets obvious that the text interface comes with lots of benefits. And even if you are assigning just loads with text input but create the model graphically, you will definitely benefit from reducing the number of clicks.

I’m not saying a sole use of text input is the right and only way to go. It’s more the right balance of picking the suitable method for the tasks in your project. SOFiSTiK Structural Desktop allows you to use the graphical workflow without even thinking about the text input. But you get the chance to interfere with the text input in the graphical input at any time.