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openFAST - release versus self compilation

Posted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 4:10 am
by Ebert.Vlasveld
Dear all,

I am very eager to use openFAST, but I have a few questions regarding the use and compilation of openFAST. Although I have an engineering background, I do not have a lot of experience with software development and compiling code. My questions may therefore seem silly, but perhaps others with a similar background as me also struggle a bit with the same questions, so I will ask them anyway.

I recently spend quite some time trying to compile openFAST, using Visual Studio 2019 and Visual Fortran 2017. I tried to compile on multiple computers (my private desktop as well as corporate machines) and although following each time the instructions laid out on https://openfast.readthedocs.io/en/master/, I got different type of errors on each machine. I started issue https://github.com/OpenFAST/openfast/issues/336 on github with one of the errors I obtained, and Rafael advised me to simply download the binaries of the latest release.

The way I understand it, is that I download these files and are now able to run openFAST. Is this understanding correct? Or do i have to merge these files with those in the GitHub master branch somehow?

If I had known about these pre-compiled binaries I would not have spend so much time trying to compile openFAST. Yet, I get the impression that the vast majority of the users is compiling openFAST themselves. Which leaves me to wonder whether I miss something here? Are there clear benefits to compiling the code myself or is it even a requirement to correctly use openFAST? I get that if I am planning on altering or adding to the code, I have to compile, but if am planning on using the existing modules there is actually no need to compile right?

Hope someone can clear this up for me!

Re: openFAST - release versus self compilation

Posted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 7:09 am
by Jason.Jonkman
Dear Ebert,

There is no benefit to compiling OpenFAST yourself if you do not intend to change the source code; simply use the binaries provided.

The OpenFAST github page caters to developers of OpenFAST, but the binaries are provided for those who simply want to use OpenFAST without changing the source code.

Best regards,

Re: openFAST - release versus self compilation

Posted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 7:56 am
by Ebert.Vlasveld
Dear Jason,

Thanks for the reply. Perhaps another benefit of compiling the code is to be able to go into debug mode in order to retrieve the source of some error?

Anyway, perhaps it would be an idea to highlight the option of simply downloading the latest release in the user documentation (instead of compiling the source code). As a new user reading the openFAST documentation, I was under the impression that one HAD to compile in order to use openFAST. I am sure I have myself to blame here, but I could also imagine others being led to believe the same.

Best regards,

Re: openFAST - release versus self compilation

Posted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 8:50 am
by Jason.Jonkman
Yes, I agree.

I know Rafael Mudafort of NREL is working on improving the OpenFAST documentation.

Best regards,