Chapter 1. Crash Course for Using an Eclipse Application

This chapter is intended to get new Dakota GUI users up to speed on Eclipse terminology and concepts.  If you have used Eclipse-based applications previously, you may skip this chapter.

The Dakota GUI is built on the Eclipse platform.  The Eclipse platform provides a highly customizable integrated development environment (or “IDE”) for many different popular programming languages.  In this chapter, when we refer to a feature as being an Eclipse feature, this is something that is common to all distributions of Eclipse, not just the Dakota GUI.

Menus and Actions

Like most applications, you can expect to find a series of dropdown menus in the top-left corner of the screen.  By default, the Dakota GUI provides "File," "Edit," "Run," "Window," and "Help."  Many of these are self-explanatory and provide functionality common to other applications.  The menu options key to running Dakota will be covered in later chapters.


Underneath these menus are action icons.  Pictured above are the default action items provided when you first open the Dakota GUI.

From left to right, the icons represent the following actions:

  • Save:  Saves the currently selected file if there are unsaved changes (grayed out if there are no changes to save).
  • Save All:  Saves all files in the workspace that have unsaved changes (grayed out if there are no changes to save).
  • Debug:  Runs Dakota in debug mode (currently not implemented in the Dakota GUI)
  • Run:  Runs a Dakota run configuration.  See Chapter 5 for more information on running Dakota using run configurations.
  • Back:  Eclipse applications keep a history of which files you have viewed.  This Back button returns to the last file viewed.
  • Forward:  Go forward in history to the next most recently viewed file.

The Workspace

All Eclipse-based applications work off the idea that your files and folders exist in a single conceptual location called “the workspace.”  This is usually represented by one folder on your system.  The workspace is where the Dakota GUI will create new files and folders while you work.  Eclipse applications also allow you to import files from elsewhere on your system into the workspace.

When you open the Dakota GUI, by default, you will be presented with the following dialog:


The Dakota GUI assumes that “dakota_gui_workspace” in your home directory is a good default, but you may decide you want a different workspace folder.

In addition, the Eclipse platform allows you to have multiple workspaces on your system at once.  This is handy if you are working on multiple large projects and don’t want to have to keep everything in view at once.  When you switch to a new workspace, all the files and folders from the previous workspace will disappear from view in the GUI, and any files and folders in your new workspace will appear.

Changing the workspace is easy.  Simply select File > Switch Workspace > Other, then provide the path to the new workspace.


Within a workspace, the next level of organization is “the project.”  A project is a top-level, logical organization of files and folders.  You can have as many or as few projects as you like (though you need to have at least one to work in the Dakota GUI).  Within a project, files and folders can be organized however you like.


Eclipse applications divide their screen real estate into “views.”  By default, Dakota GUI arranges its views as follows:


There are three main views shown here:

  • The Project Navigator (far left):  The Project Navigator view lets you see all folders and files that the Dakota GUI knows about in its current workspace.  For certain files, the Project Navigator can also dive into the file content and provide hierarchical information about those files.  For instance, a Dakota input file can be expanded to graphically show all its keywords.  See Chapter 4 for more information.
  • Text Editor (top-right):  The text editor is the main area of the screen where you will view and edit files.  The text editor is primarily for viewing and editing Dakota input files, but it’s capable of displaying the contents of any text-based file.
    • Note:  In the above screenshot, you can see that the text editor provides basic syntax coloring and warning/error messages for Dakota input files.  See Chapter 4 for more information on this topic.
    • Note:  You can have multiple text files open at once.  This is made possible via tabs across the top of the text editor.
  • Console (bottom-right):  The Dakota GUI's console acts exactly the same as if you were running Dakota on the command line.  This console shows both output and error streams coming from Dakota as it’s running.  You can distinguish which is which by color – the regular output stream is colored black, while error messages are colored in red.

There are many other useful views available in the Dakota GUI.  For instance, the Problems view provides a list of issues detected in your files.

To see the full list of views, go to Window > Show View > Other...


The way that these three views are arranged on the screen is called a “perspective.”  In Eclipse, perspectives can be rearranged to suit your particular preference for how things should be visually organized.  For instance, you may prefer to have the console above and the text editor below, or to move the project navigator to the right side of the screen.

Generally, rearranging a perspective in an Eclipse application can be achieved by left-clicking on the edge of a view and dragging to where you want the view to go.

Once you have arranged the views the way you like, you can save your perspective by going to Window > Perspective > Save Perspective As.

If you want to reset a particular perspective back to its default, go to Window > Perspective > Reset Perspective.

To see the full list of default perspectives shipped with the Dakota GUI, go to Window > Perspective > Open Perspective > Other.

Launch Configurations

A "launch configuration" is a template for running an external process (namely, the Dakota executable) through the Dakota GUI.  This is the primary means of running Dakota studies in the GUI.  There are two main types of launch configurations in the Eclipse world - "run configurations" and "debug configurations."  Debug configurations are not implemented currently in the Dakota GUI, so this user manual will focus primarily on run configurations.

For more information on how to set up run configurations, see Chapter 5.

Further Reading

For further reading, please refer to Eclipse's official documentaion.