This report describes the research and prototype implementation of an Internet-enabled software framework that facilitates the utilization and the collaborative development of a nonlinear dynamic analysis program by taking advantage of object-oriented modeling, distributed computing, database, and other advanced computing technologies. This new framework allows users easy access to the analysis program and the analysis results by using a web browser or other application programs, such as MATLAB. In addition, the framework serves as a common finite element analysis platform for which researchers and software developers can build, test, and incorporate new developments.
The collaborative software framework is built upon an object-oriented finite element analysis program. The research objective is to enhance and improve the capability and performance of the finite element program by seamlessly integrating legacy code and new developments. Developments can be incorporated by directly integrating with the core as a local module and/or by implementing as a remote service module. There are several approaches to incorporate software modules locally, such as defining new subclasses, building interfaces and wrappers, or developing a reverse communication mechanism. The distributed and collaborative architecture also allows a software component to be incorporated as a service in a dynamic and distributed manner. Two forms of remote element services, namely the distributed element service and the dynamic shared library element service, are introduced in the framework to facilitate the distributed usage and the collaborative development of a finite element program.
The collaborative finite element software framework also includes data and project management functionalities. A database system is employed to store selected analysis results and to provide flexible data management and data access. The Internet is utilized as a data delivery vehicle, and a data query language is developed to provide an easy-to-use mechanism to access the needed analysis results from readily accessible sources in a ready-to-use format for further manipulation. Finally, a simple project management scheme is developed to allow the users to manage and to collaborate on the analysis of a structure.
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