My Blog

DTOcean Installation Solution

Sporadic Installation Issues Reported

Following the release of DTOcean (see DTOcean: An Introduction) a significant number of users reported issues with the installer crashing. This occurred after the main code installer had finished, when the hydrodynamic data installer fails to find the chosen installation directory.

Installation Error

Missing Registry Key

The symptom of this error is clear. The hydrodynamic data installer is looking for a registry key that contains the installation directory. This key should be written by a small script which is executed at the termination of the first installer. The registry key that should be written is HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\DTOcean, subkey INSTALL_DIR, however it is evident that this key was not written for those suffering this bug.

Missing Key

Uncertain Causes

It is currently not clear why the post-install script is not working for some systems whilst working for others. Some possibilities include:

  • The script is failing. This could be from the commands not being recognised on certain systems (or within certain shells).
  • The user does not have sufficient rights to either run the script or write to the registry
  • Anti-virus software is blocking the execution of the script.

Without some logging from the script to see why it failed to execute properly, it’s hard to accurately diagnose the problem. To this end, I created an issue for Anaconda Constructor here.

Temporary Solution

As the post-install script is not working in all cases, to solve this issue the user must write the installation directory to the registry prior to installing DTOcean.

To facilitate this, I have written a batch script which, when executed, will prompt the user to enter the chosen directory.

Pre-install Script

The script can be downloaded using this link. Once extracted, double click the dtocean_pre_install.bat script and follow the prompts, as shown in the image above.

Note, that the directory entered in the pre-install script must match exactly the directory entered into the installer. Also, the installation directory must not exist prior to beginning the installation. If the directory exists following a failed installation, either attempt to uninstall or delete it manually.

This solution should allow the current version of DTOcean (1.0) to be installed while a more robust fix is developed for future releases.

Notes

DTOcean: An Introduction

DTOcean GUI

What is DTOcean?

The official launch of the DTOcean software tool was announced on the 9th of January 2017. This was the final official output of a 3 year, 6 million Euro project to deliver a software tool to improve the decision making around designing arrays of ocean energy (wave and tidal) devices. Alongside the press release an installable graphical desktop tool (as seen above) and all its associated source code was made available to download by the general public under various open source licenses.

DTOcean is an ocean energy converter array planning tool that can be used to evaluate the impact of design decisions against quantitative metrics such as the levelised cost of energy. Various design choices can be evaluated using the 5 design modules: Hydrodynamics, Electrical Sub-systems, Moorings and Foundations, Installation and Operations and Maintenance. The results of varying parameters across these 5 modules can then be directly compared.

Who Developed it?

DTOcean was developed across 18 institutions across Europe (please see the official DTOcean website for further details). The bulk of the software development fell to about 8 of these, with Tecnalia Research and Innovation, of the Basque Country, playing a key role. In late 2014, I started a Marie Curie fellowship with the marine energy group of Tecnalia and I was principally working on DTOcean until the end of my contract in December 2016.

DTOcean Team

My role on the project was to coordinate the integration of the design modules and develop the framework for handling data between the modules, scheduling their execution, and interacting with the user through a graphical user interface. I also defined the unified data model that is observed and populated by the user of the tool.

I was not responsible for the development of the computational modules themselves or the supplementary database (they were led by other partners), although I did contribute to these projects and tried to coordinate their interactions with the other components of the tool. I was also not the sole contributor to the integration process: Vincenzo Nava, David Bould, Adam Collin, Rui Duarte and Francesco Ferri all contributed to giving the software as much functionality as possible by configuring and building upon the underlying framework.

Building a Community

Currently the installers, source code and supplementary data can be downloaded from SETIS, all of which corresponds to the 1.0 release at the end of the project. Although this portal provides a permanent home for these files it does not facilitate community engagement or future development.

To begin the process of developing a user community around DTOcean, I have placed all the source code onto the GitHub repository service. The “organisation” DTOcean contains a repository for each component (and subcomponent) of the tool and an important additional repository called dtocean-issues.

The dtocean-issues repository facilitates community engagement by allowing users of the integrated graphical tool to submit bugs or questions or even to suggest future improvements to the software. If you are using DTOcean and want to provide some feedback I would encourage you to open an issue.

DTOcean GUI

Although there is no formal, funded support for DTOcean at this point, collecting the experiences of the users will be invaluable for assessing how much interest the tool has among the ocean energy community and how it could be improved should resources become available in the future.

Building a Future

A lot of work remains to be completed to organise the future development and exploitation of DTOcean. Currently, I am available to do a small amount of unpaid work to help disseminate the tool and advise potential users, but it is important for the future of the tool that some funding can be secured in order to improve the stability and accuracy of the software and respond to issues raised by the user community.

Although DTOcean has garnered significant interest from various actors such as research institutions and device developers, neither the tool itself, or the industry it is designed for, is mature enough to appeal to the utilities that would pay for its full exploitation.

Even though the software itself is free, the investment of time to develop and improve it is not. Ultimately, the success of DTOcean will be judged on whether it can attract the funding required to secure its future. Developing a strong user community is the first step to achieving that goal.

Bella Italia, Viva INORE

I have been studying marine renewable energy since September 2002 so, at the time of writing, nearly 13 years. Sadly, to my discredit, I have not always taken all of the opportunities that studying in this unique field have offered me. One such opportunity was to become actively involved in a young researchers network called INORE during my PhD. This was a time of my life where I was bitter, big headed and small minded (gotta love PhDs), and so, rather than try it out, I simply heaped scorn on my friends that were involved.

I like to think that I’ve changed since then, and I am becoming more like the person I want to be. Yet still, when another opportunity to attend INORE came along, familiar sentiments returned: “I’m too old”, “I’m not that kind of person”, “Why would I waste my time?”. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

My closest colleague could have gone instead of me but, fortunately for me, he seemed less enthusiastic to go than I did. Indeed, I know now that he was saying this for my benefit as he is one of the world’s super nice people. It also made sense from a technical perspective as we needed to present a piece software that he can’t use, as yet. That piece of software is DTOcean - my current charge and will be for the next 15 months. I have a lot to thank DTOcean for as, along with the EU Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programme, it has brought me to Bilbao and an exciting (and challenging) new life.

I will say more about DTOcean at a later date, as we have just begun to publicise its existence and there is lots of interesting stuff to tell (maybe even a slot at Europython (woo!). The presentation at INORE, in Vico Equense in southern Italy, was the 3rd of a group of four presentations of our “Alpha version” over 2 months, a period throughout which the software has been getting more alpha all the time. Sadly, including some intense preparation time, this has stolen a good 3 months of my social life (and Spanish learning), so I hope Derwyn (my pet name for DTOcean) appreciates my sacrifice. The last presentation is next week.

I did not have my travelling hat on when I arrived in Italy, and was feeling a bit out of sorts. These feelings quickly faded, however. Firstly, I had a calzone. Secondly, Vico Equense is incredibly stunning.

Mount Vesuvius

Piano di Sorrento

Peppe's hand

The hand you see in the last picture is that of my bed and breakfast host, Peppe. The pictures above were taken because of his generosity in offering me a hair raising ride on the back of his moped for an hour long tour of the locality about Vico Equense. This was truly one of the best experiences of my life, so if you ever happen to stay at the Bed & Breakfast Maria Grazia and Peppe offers you a ride, take it. The B&B is also a lovely building and he has some of the largest lemons I’ve ever seen… Just remember to take a car, as it’s a bit isolated.

Huge lemons

So it was a good start to my journey, and the next stage was to meet the INORE gang at the hostel up the road. Now, I wouldn’t say that I didn’t know anybody, in fact a colleague from my current work was attending along with colleagues from the University of Edinburgh. The joy was that I hardly spoke to them throughout much of my time there as I met with such a nice welcome from the group as a whole. OK, everyone was looking a little tired (the days and nights are long at INORE), but this had not dampened the open and inclusive spirit of the group. Indeed, this will be my enduring memory of the trip, feeling at home among like-minded people and having fun with old friends and, I hope, new ones as well. I will remember that feeling, and also seeing one of the most beautiful sunsets of my life from the roof of the hostel; one of those perfect little moments of life.

Sunset

Beyond a great social experience, the trip also proved very useful from a work perspective. The feedback we received from the group of young researchers after my presentation of DTOcean was very detailed and thought through, and really highlighted the embarrassment of young intellect in the room. From both an intellectual and social perspective I left INORE totally satisfied.

In fact, I was extremely sad to leave when I did (two and a half days before the end), and upset with myself for never taking the risk to try it when I could justify spending the entire week there. If I could, I would have gone back instantly and implored everyone else to stay in that beautiful place for ever more. Still, life goes on but if you are a young researcher in offshore energy and have ever thought of trying INORE or even if you think its not for you, I would urge you to give it a try and not make the same mistake as me. I feel extremely lucky and privileged to get a second chance, but I wish I had taken my first.