Sunday, 22 February 2009

Permeability of soils – the Excel application


Today we would like to introduce you one of our projects that we did for Politecnic University of Insubria. This is an Excel application that helps calculating the permeability of soils.

"Why in Excel?" you might ask. Excel is a powerful and flexible framework to create applications with dynamic interfaces. In this project we needed to implement the tool to manage different points that took measures of different parameters of soils. Their particular feature is that each point is characterised by a variable number of discontinuity families. Therefore, one point had to expose an interface to input data in 3 families, the other one – in 15 families, yet another one – in 35 families etc.
At first we were requested to develop a stand-alone application. However, after having thought carefully of the problem we offered to develop the application in Excel.

Here are the advantages in using Excel:
- Familiar and simple user interface (it’s Excel itself)
- Open code (yep, Excel with its native VBA support provides us with a possibility to create applications with open code; the University, in turn, wanted to have the possibility to control and modify any time the business logic of the application)
- Ease in creation of a beautiful and dynamic interface (one point has k discontinuity families, each has a number of parameters for input, but that also serve as output parameters, k! angles between families to input and output, k ^ 2 interconnection values for discontinuity families and k hydraulic conductivity values per each point – and this all dynamic and on a single worksheet)
- Fast development (Excel is already a powerful tool which we only enhance with our advanced functions. Anyway, 50% of all the work has already been done by Microsoft)
- Data and application in one place (Excel application can be a calculation engine and a database in the same time)
- Flexibility in distribution and power of management (if you want to change the year and archive your database or switch to another measurement area or start new measurement period you have to simply create a copy of the workbook)

Below you can see how the application works:

Visit our web-site WWW.YRIVER.IT to see other projects, solutions, ideas and find out more about how we can make Excel work for you.

Best wishes from YellowRiver,
Valera :)

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