GHS2: Ready for Beta Testing

For the past several months, the programming staff at Creative Systems has been working on a "port" of the GHS (General HydroStatics) Main Program to a new development system. The purpose of this move is to modernize the source code in which the program is written, making it more amenable to future development, including future versions for operating systems other than DOS.

In theory this is a lateral move, neither adding to nor subtracting from the functionality of the program. In practice certain characteristics of the program inevitably change. This happens because, while externally it is exactly the same program, internally everything is different.

The trend in the software industry has been toward larger and slower- running programs. Since continual improvements in hardware speed and capacity have kept a similar pace, the performance of the newer software (assuming the latest hardware) has not suffered too much. Nevertheless, the inefficiency of modern software has eaten up the performance gains which should have come with more powerful hardware.

Another problem with such moves has been an initial decrease in reliability. It seems that the first version of the rewritten program always has many new bugs for its users to find.

In order to avoid these undesirable results, Creative Systems has spent a great deal of effort developing a technology for automating and optimizing the conversion process. And the result is well worth the effort.

This new version of the GHS Main Program is being called GHS2 (in the interim before its final release), and it appears to have made computing history! Here is why: The GHS2 program files are actually smaller - less disk space is used; GHS2 runs faster on the same hardware; GHS2 requires less memory to run the same geometry file; The GHS2 Main Program provides much more memory for interaction with other programs in the GHS system; and GHS2 is not full of new bugs. In fact the automated conversion process eliminates a whole class of human errors - the most common source of bugs. Not only is the disk space requirement less, it also involves fewer program (.EXE) files: only one file where the old program had four to seven.

During the transition period, both GHS and GHS2 are available. The difference in their names allows them to coexist in the same directory without confusion. GHS2 is being made available for testing to any GHS user who is currently subscribing to Maintenance/Support. Starting with version 6.70, only GHS2 will be distributed and its name will be changed to GHS. The transition to version 6.70 is expected to take place in January, 1998.

At that time the derivative products BHS, BHS/Yacht and GLM will also have their main programs updated with the new technology.

For a speed comparison between GHS and GHS2, a run consisting of cross curve calculations on the Chemical Tanker model (TANKER.GF) was prepared. It consisted of 13 heel angles at 15 drafts with free trim. Run time comparisons were made on a 133 Mhz Pentium under various operating systems.

The results of the timing test are shown in the graph below. These times include loading of the program and reading of the Geometry File. Note that in all cases GHS2 is substantially faster than GHS. Interestingly, the performance in a window under Windows 95 went from the worst with GHS to the best with GHS2.

When it is released in January, version 6.70 will have undergone extensive field testing. In addition to the enhanced performance, it will incorporate many corrections and improvements resulting from user feedback during the last several months.
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