Web-based Simulation

SOUL

By Web-based Simulation we refer to the use of simulators on the World Wide Web via an internet browser. Its use can be in various contexts:

  • E-learning, various basic principles can be demonstrated via computer animation.
  • Distance learning/training. Training pills.
  • Simulation-assisted engineering. Every engineer has their own simulator to validate or modify their design.
  • Serious online games.

There are basically two possible ways of looking at it, depending on what the end user downloads from the internet: Client-side vs server-side.

In the client-side simulation, the simulation calculations are downloaded onto the client’s computer and are executed completely by the user.  

In the server-side simulation, the simulation calculations are made on a centralised server, and only the user’s interface is available on the end user’s computer. Server-side simulation requires much less equipment from the users but better broadband use.

The decision on which architecture and technology to use is not easy and must be made by taking into consideration a wide range of factors. However, among these I would like to highlight the most important ones:

  • The simulator use, from training pills to engineering tools and even collaborative training sessions.
  • The maintainability of the simulator based on its dependence on third-party equipment (operating systems, broadband, emulator availability etc.).
  • With regards to the end user: the equipment and network requirements, as well as the installed software.
  • The protection of the simulator on two levels; having knowledge of if the simulator is a protectable tool and of if the algorithms and tools used are subject to restricted conditions.
  • The protection of data and monitored algorithms and the protection of the simulation installation that, eventually may be sought after information and as such must be protected from direct reading or reverse engineering.
  • Finally, and obviously, the costs involved in the development and use of each element.

Furthermore, and depending on the specific features of each simulator (for example, the modelling of distributed control systems, DCS and its operational interface), there may be conditions that univocally make the decision for you.

The prototypes that have been developed up until now by Tecnatom (the last one being the “Generic Thermo Solar” simulator) have been based on server-side architecture (a real-time environment with the simulation models executed in real time on a server while the user interface is executed on a webpage).

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