Skip to content

Using Inishell

Inishell is a flexible Graphical User Interface (GUI) for numerical models. In particular, it is the GUI for MeteoIO, Snowpack and Alpine3D. This page gives some background on the principles behind Inishell and how to use it most easily.

Principles of Inishell

In Inishell, the graphical input elements are not hard-coded but dynamically generated from a developer-provided XML file (see Fig. 1). Once these elements are shown to the screen, the user can generate a configuration file (INI file) for the numerical model these XML files have been written for. So the same Inishell can support the configuration of multiple numerical models as well as multiple versions of these models!

Fig. 1 Fig. 1

Configuring a numerical model

As shown on Fig. 2, the main GUI of Inishell is made of three parts:

  • The drawer (part 1) is where the user can select the application to generate an INI file for (for example, Snowpack);
  • The main interface (part 2) is where the user configures the selected application (each tab matches a section in the INI file and each entry field matches an INI configuration key in the section);
  • The status bar (part 3) shows some information (for example the indicator light on the right turns green when a model is running through Inishell).


From the top menu, it is also possible to access the help system and to preview the currently edited INI file ("View" > "Preview"). This preview can itself be edited in the preview editor and loaded back into the GUI! This allows for quick cut and paste between different INI files...

Example workflow

Let's say that you want to run the Snowpack model. Then you have to go through the following steps, after starting Inishell:

  1. Select "Snowpack" in the applications list in the drawer;
  2. Configure your numerical simulation by filling the necessary fields in the main interface[^1];
  3. Once everything has been configured, save your configuration to a configuration file (and don't forget to save again after further changes!);
  4. In the drawer, select the lowest drawer (appropriately named Snowpack when you have loaded the "Snowpack" application at step 1). This reveals a small configuration interface to run Snowpack directly from within Inishell.
  5. Please provide a start and end date for Snowpack[^2];
  6. Click on "Run Snowpack" to start the simulation. Notice how the main part of the interface has changed and now contains the terminal outputs of Snowpack. Once this is done, you can open niViz and drag and drop output files into niViz!

[^1]: In the main interface, fields that are marked red with a "*" are mandatory, fields that are greyed out will not be written out and rely on their default values. Please also note that there are help texts (almost) for every configuration field (on the right of the field). Many of these help texts contain links pointing to the matching page in the online documentation.

[^2]: On the lowest part of this drawer, there is a "Select working directory from" with a selector. This is specially important for how to interpret relative paths in your configuration file. Select from where Snowpack should run compared to where your INI file is located (often its in the same directory, Snowpack examples need to run from one directory above).