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Modelatorul grafic

The graphical modeler allows you to create complex models using a simple and easy-to-use interface. When working with a GIS, most analysis operations are not isolated, but rather part of a chain of operations instead. Using the graphical modeler, that chain of processes can be wrapped into a single process, so it is as easy and convenient to execute as a single process later on a different set of inputs. No matter how many steps and different algorithms it involves, a model is executed as a single algorithm, thus saving time and effort, especially for larger models.

Modelatorul poate fi deschis din meniul de prelucrare.

The modeler has a working canvas where the structure of the model and the workflow it represents are shown. On the left part of the window, a panel with two tabs can be used to add new elements to the model.

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Modeler win

Crearea unui model de implică două etape:

  1. Definition of necessary inputs. These inputs will be added to the parameters window, so the user can set their values when executing the model. The model itself is an algorithm, so the parameters window is generated automatically as it happens with all the algorithms available in the processing framework.
  2. Definition of the workflow. Using the input data of the model, the workflow is defined by adding algorithms and selecting how they use those inputs or the outputs generated by other algorithms already in the model.

Definiția intrărilor

The first step to create a model is to define the inputs it needs. The following elements are found in the Inputs tab on the left side of the modeler window:

  • Stratul raster

  • Stratul vectorial

  • Șirul

  • Câmpul tabelei

  • Tabela

  • Extinderea

  • Numărul

  • Boolean
  • Fișierul

Double-clicking on any of these elements, a dialog is shown to define its characteristics. Depending on the parameter itself, the dialog may contain just one basic element (the description, which is what the user will see when executing the model) or more of them. For instance, when adding a numerical value, as can be seen in the next figure, apart from the description of the parameter, you have to set a default value and a range of valid values.

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Model Parameters win

Pentru fiecare intrare adăugată, un element nou este adăugat pe canevasul modelatorului.

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Model Parameters win

Puteți adăuga intrări, de asemenea, prin glisarea tipului de intrare din listă, și fixarea lui în canevasul modelatorului, în poziția în care doriți să-l plasați.

Definiția fluxului de lucru

Once the inputs have been defined, it is time to define the algorithms to apply on them. Algorithms can be found in the Algorithms tab, grouped much in the same way as they are in the toolbox.

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Model Parameters win

The appearance of the toolbox has two modes here as well: simplified and advanced. However, there is no element to switch between views in the modeler, so you have to do it in the toolbox. The mode that is selected in the toolbox is the one that will be used for the list of algorithms in the modeler.

To add an algorithm to a model, double-click on its name or drag and drop it, just like it was done when adding inputs. An execution dialog will appear, with a content similar to the one found in the execution panel that is shown when executing the algorithm from the toolbox. The one shown next corresponds to the SAGA ‘Convergence index’ algorithm, the same example we saw in the section dedicated to the toolbox.

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Model Parameters win

As you can see, some differences exist. Instead of the file output box that was used to set the file path for output layers and tables, a simple text box is used here. If the layer generated by the algorithm is just a temporary result that will be used as the input of another algorithm and should not be kept as a final result, just do not edit that text box. Typing anything in it means that the result is final and the text that you supply will be the description for the output, which will be the output the user will see when executing the model.

Selecting the value of each parameter is also a bit different, since there are important differences between the context of the modeler and that of the toolbox. Let’s see how to introduce the values for each type of parameter.

  • Layers (raster and vector) and tables. These are selected from a list, but in this case, the possible values are not the layers or tables currently loaded in QGIS, but the list of model inputs of the corresponding type, or other layers or tables generated by algorithms already added to the model.
  • Numerical values. Literal values can be introduced directly in the text box. But this text box is also a list that can be used to select any of the numerical value inputs of the model. In this case, the parameter will take the value introduced by the user when executing the model.
  • Şir. Ca și în cazul valorilor numerice, șirurile de caractere literale pot fi tastate, sau se poate selecta un șir de intrare.

  • Table field. The fields of the parent table or layer cannot be known at design time, since they depend on the selection of the user each time the model is executed. To set the value for this parameter, type the name of a field directly in the text box, or use the list to select a table field input already added to the model. The validity of the selected field will be checked at run time.

In all cases, you will find an additional parameter named Parent algorithms that is not available when calling the algorithm from the toolbox. This parameter allows you to define the order in which algorithms are executed by explicitly defining one algorithm as a parent of the current one, which will force the parent algorithm to be executed before the current one.

When you use the output of a previous algorithm as the input of your algorithm, that implicitly sets the previous algorithm as parent of the current one (and places the corresponding arrow in the modeler canvas). However, in some cases an algorithm might depend on another one even if it does not use any output object from it (for instance, an algorithm that executes an SQL sentence on a PostGIS database and another one that imports a layer into that same database). In that case, just select the previous algorithm in the Parent algorithms parameter and the two steps will be executed in the correct order.

Once all the parameters have been assigned valid values, click on [OK] and the algorithm will be added to the canvas. It will be linked to all the other elements in the canvas, whether algorithms or inputs, that provide objects that are used as inputs for that algorithm.

Elements can be dragged to a different position within the canvas, to change the way the module structure is displayed and make it more clear and intuitive. Links between elements are updated automatically. You can zoom in and out by using the mouse wheel.

You can run your algorithm anytime by clicking on the [Run] button. However, in order to use the algorithm from the toolbox, it has to be saved and the modeler dialog closed, to allow the toolbox to refresh its contents.

Salvarea și încărcarea modelelor

Use the [Save] button to save the current model and the [Open] button to open any model previously saved. Models are saved with the .model extension. If the model has been previously saved from the modeler window, you will not be prompted for a filename. Since there is already a file associated with that model, the same file will be used for any subsequent saves.

Înainte de a salva un model, trebuie să introduceți un nume și un grup pentru el, folosind casetele de text din partea de sus a ferestrei.

Models saved on the models folder (the default folder when you are prompted for a filename to save the model) will appear in the toolbox in the corresponding branch. When the toolbox is invoked, it searches the models folder for files with the .model extension and loads the models they contain. Since a model is itself an algorithm, it can be added to the toolbox just like any other algorithm.

The models folder can be set from the processing configuration dialog, under the Modeler group.

Models loaded from the models folder appear not only in the toolbox, but also in the algorithms tree in the Algorithms tab of the modeler window. That means that you can incorporate a model as a part of a bigger model, just as you add any other algorithm.

In some cases, a model might not be loaded because not all the algorithms included in its workflow are available. If you have used a given algorithm as part of your model, it should be available (that is, it should appear in the toolbox) in order to load that model. Deactivating an algorithm provider in the processing configuration window renders all the algorithms in that provider unusable by the modeler, which might cause problems when loading models. Keep that in mind when you have trouble loading or executing models.

Editarea unui model

Puteți edita modelul pe care îl creați în mod curent, să redefiniți fluxul de lucru și relațiile dintre algoritmi și intrările care definesc modelul în sine.

Dacă faceți clic-dreapta pe un algoritm din canevas reprezentând modelul, veți vedea un meniu contextual ca cel prezentat în continuare:

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Modeler Right Click win

Selecting the Remove option will cause the selected algorithm to be removed. An algorithm can be removed only if there are no other algorithms depending on it. That is, if no output from the algorithm is used in a different one as input. If you try to remove an algorithm that has others depending on it, a warning message like the one you can see below will be shown:

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Cannot Delete Algorithm win

Selecting the Edit option or simply double-clicking on the algorithm icon will show the parameters dialog of the algorithm, so you can change the inputs and parameter values. Not all input elements available in the model will appear in this case as available inputs. Layers or values generated at a more advanced step in the workflow defined by the model will not be available if they cause circular dependencies.

Select the new values and then click on the [OK] button as usual. The connections between the model elements will change accordingly in the modeler canvas.

Editarea fișierelor de ajutor și a meta-informațiilor modelului

You can document your models from the modeler itself. Just click on the [Edit model help] button and a dialog like the one shown next will appear.

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Help Edition win

On the right-hand side, you will see a simple HTML page, created using the description of the input parameters and outputs of the algorithm, along with some additional items like a general description of the model or its author. The first time you open the help editor, all these descriptions are empty, but you can edit them using the elements on the left-hand side of the dialog. Select an element on the upper part and then write its description in the text box below.

Model help is saved in a file in the same folder as the model itself. You do not have to worry about saving it, since it is done automatically.

Despre algoritmii disponibili

You might notice that some algorithms that can be be executed from the toolbox do not appear in the list of available algorithms when you are designing a model. To be included in a model, an algorithm must have a correct semantic, so as to be properly linked to others in the workflow. If an algorithm does not have such a well-defined semantic (for instance, if the number of output layers cannot be known in advance), then it is not possible to use it within a model, and thus, it does not appear in the list of algorithms that you can find in the modeler dialog.

Additionally, you will see some algorithms in the modeler that are not found in the toolbox. These algorithms are meant to be used exclusively as part of a model, and they are of no interest in a different context. The ‘Calculator’ algorithm is an example of that. It is just a simple arithmetic calculator that you can use to modify numerical values (entered by the user or generated by some other algorithm). This tool is really useful within a model, but outside of that context, it doesn’t make too much sense.