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Working with data in GSA

The correct way of building a model can take many forms. The most appropriate method will depend on the shape and complexity of the model. Familiarity with other programs, such as spreadsheets and CAD packages will affect the approach, as will the availability of the geometric data in other formats.

The options below describe different methods for constructing the geometrical model (nodes, elements and properties).

Data modules

Data in GSA is held in modules that can (in most cases) be thought of as tables. For example, a simple model may have a nodes module, an elements module, a beam sections module and some load modules. Although the data for these tables can be entered directly via Table views, the better and more convienient methods of entering data are also less likely to cause errors.

Data generation

The simplest way of constructing a model is to use the Data generation wizard. Templates are offered for typical structural forms. The structure is specified by selecting a template and defining a few key parameters.

Generating from a template via the wizard is so quick and easy it is sometimes preferrable, even if you will then have to edit the geometry to achieve your desired geometry.

Sculpting models

Sculpting is the term used for graphical editing of the model via a Graphic view. The clear visual feedback makes this method popular for all shapes, sizes and complexities of structure.

The mesh generation option in GSA makes sculpting a powerful tool for the meshing of irregular areas with 2D elements.

Sculpting is covered in more detail in the Working with the program section under Working with graphic views.

Spreadsheets & CAD

Some structures have a regularity that is compatible with definiting the structure in a spreadsheet. In other cases the structure can be defined in terms of a number of parameters that are subject to change. Spreadsheets give the flexibility to quickly generate variations on complex models. Data that is generated in a spreadsheet can either be read as a text file, or included directly in tables using cut and paste.

Structural models that exist in CAD packages may be transferred to GSA via the DXF and DWG file formats. To do this it must be possible for the information to be saved as a DXF file in the CAD package. This is useful both when the geometric form has been defined by others and supplied in a CAD format and when CAD is used because it is the most appropriate tool for defining the geometry.


Models assembled in BIM (Building Image Model) packages can be imported into GSA either via an Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) file or from the GSA/Revit link.