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VisualAnalysis 12.0 Help


Open a Project File

To open an existing Project use the File | Open command. For a project you worked on recently you might find the file on the quick list at the bottom of the File menu.

You may hold the Shift key (on the keyboard) when opening a project file to ignore the saved window layouts and filter settings that are stored with the project. This command is useful if you get a crash because the file was created on a different machine or your display settings have changed. (This is similar to, but slightly different than holding the Shift key when you launch VisualAnalysis from a menu or icon, which causes the program to use a default layout for toolbars and panels like Project Manager and the Find Tool window.)

When you use File | Open, you will have a number of options regarding how the file will be opened. The open dialog allows you to ignore load cases, analysis results, window layouts, and design information that might be in the file. You can sometimes use this feature to recover data from a partially corrupted file. This is useful if the file is corrupt or if you no longer need this information. If you ignore information and then save the file again to the same name that information will be lost.

Prior version project files are recognized and opened automatically. We do not attempt to read ALL information from older format files, but the model and loads in most cases will be preserved. For POL files, refer to the POL.HLP file in the Help folder on your disk and the sections below.

Save a Project File

To ensure that your work is protected you should periodically save your project. Use File | Save to store the information in a VisualAnalysis Project File (.vap). Project files save your model and/or loads, analysis results, design information, and window layouts. Projects with results are much larger than projects without so you will want to balance disk space with analysis time in deciding what to save.

Working with .VAP projects in Windows Explorer

When you double-click on a .vap project file, or right-click on it and choose Open, Windows will try to determine which program to use to open it.

If you have multiple versions of VisualAnalysis installed on your machine, Windows may get it wrong. You can right-click and use the Open With... command to select the correct version and to change the default. The most recent version you "install" becomes the default for .VAP projects, but you can customize this in Windows Explorer. If you try to open a newer .vap file with an older version of the product, you will get an error message and the operation will fail.

Another feature in Windows is to mark files as read-only. You can right-click on a .vap project file in Windows Explorer and choose Properties from the context menu to mark it as readonly, and then use a read only project like a template to "jump-start" new projects with some pre-existing model, load cases and combinations, and/or loads. You might want to put such files into a folder named "Templates" to remind you of their purpose.

Opening a 'Corrupt' File

VisualAnalysis project files are normally extremely stable and robust. However, you may run accross problems opening files. If this happens you have a couple of options:

  1. Make sure you are using the correct version of VisualAnalysis, and the latest updates.
  2. Use File | Open and try to ignore 'window layout' or 'saved results'
  3. Locate a History File that was saved for you automatically.
  4. If these fail, retrieve the file from your own backup system!

Merge or Split Projects

VisualAnalysis does not offer specific features for merging or dividing projects or models. You can often manually accomplish the tasks yourself, at least for basic models. You may wish divide a project into multiple parts if you are having memory issues or other performance problems. You may also wish to divide the work among different engineers. Combining two distinct .VAP project files is much more difficult than dividing a project into multiple parts.


Open your original project file and delete the portions you want to remove, then use File | Save As to save this portion of the project as a different file. Repeat the process with the original project file to split out a different fraction of the model.


You can 'merge' some basic modeling and loading objects from one project to another by using the Clipboard Exchange tool. This does not offer support for many features in VisualAnalysis, however, but may still save you time over manually recreating items manually. You will need to be careful with naming of nodes and elements and load cases. You may need to rename items in the 'clipboard' data or in the destination project before completing the import.

History Files

VisualAnalysis will create files to record multiple versions of a project file as you create and modify it. These project files are called History Files and are saved with a name like "Your Project Version 1.vap". These files can be used to return to a previous state of the project. You might do this if you accidentally delete a file, it becomes corrupt, or if you have saved changes that you wish to undo. History Files are created every time you open a project file. Typically, History Files are saved in your Temp directory. By default, in Windows XP this is typically C:\Documents and Settings\<your login>\Local Settings\Temp. With Windows Vista this path is typically C:\Users\<your login>\AppData\Local\Temp.

The number of History Files and whether they are created at all is up to you. See the chapter on Customizing for more information.

Timed Backup Files

VisualAnalysis will optionally and automatically save your project every so many minutes (10 minutes is the default setting). The Timed Backup file is automatically named "Your!". This file will be replaced whenever a timed backup is made. If there is a crash in VisualAnalysis or your system this file protects your work up to the last save point. When you start VisualAnalysis it will check for the existence of this files and if one exists you will be given the opportunity to open it. Timed backup files are automatically deleted when you close a project successfully.