Salomé is a comprehensive graphical pre- and post-processing framework, which is useful for setting up, controlling, and viewing the results of finite element simulations. When you first run Salomé, it presents a blank screen with buttons to launch its various modules.
The first module you will likely use is "Geometry", which includes a very basic ability to specify shapes and assemblies, and can also import files written by other Computer-Aided Design (CAD) packages. This module uses the OpenCASCADE library (the subject of next month's product focus), which has extensive features for design and CAD import. However, this is really not a CAD program: its graphical interface lacks the ability to change design parameters such as component sizes, or to delete objects.
The "Mesh" module takes a given geometry and divides it into small elements for finite element computation. Salomé includes two built-in triangle mesh generators and one generator of quadrilateral/hexahedron meshes, and also can link to the NetGen flexible triangle/tetrahedron mesher. Both geometry and mesh module panes are shown to the right.
When the geometry is thus "meshed", the MED module can store it along with information about simulation boundary conditions (temperatures, forces, etc.). MED stands for Modélisation et Echanges de Données, and is an international standard format for storing finite element simulation data for finite element software.
After running a finite element program, Salomé's Post-process module can visualize the results. This module uses either OpenCASCADE or the Visualization Toolkit (VTK) to show temperatures, deformations, flow streamlines, and other simulation data in rich three-dimensional color plots.
Every capability of Salomé is published through four interfaces: the graphical interface, a C++ class library for direct linking with other software, CORBA interfaces to use Salomé as a server process optionally on a remote machine, and an interface for scripting using the Python language. The French consulting firm OpenCASCADE S.A.S. leads its development, and about ten other companies and organizations have contributed significant code to Salomé. The code is available under the terms of the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL), version 2.1.
In short, Salomé is a rich, modular, extensible graphic interface framework for connecting with multiple open source packages for design, meshing, model storage and visualization. Furthermore, a new extension called Salomé-MECA adds more modules for setting up and controlling a parallel finite element simulation using the ISO-9001 certified Code_Aster software developed by Electricité de France for their nuclear power industry. Salomé is thus at the nexus of a wide range of projects aimed at providing professional-level finite element simulations with all of the benefits of open source.
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