Skip to Main Content
banner NOAA logo            NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service
            NOAA Fisheries Toolbox

row of waves
toc.html

 General

 Model List

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

 

General Information

Problems Installing or Uninstalling

Getting Started

Problems Entering or Saving Data

Problems Running the Model

Useful Tips and Tricks 

Working with Output Data and Plots

Other

 

 

General Information

 

What is the NOAA Fisheries Toolbox?

 

The NOAA Fisheries Toolbox is a collection of programs which can be used in fishery stock assessments. The toolbox models combine a sophisticated graphical interface with an independent calculation engine.

 

For more information on general features and details on the Toolbox's design, please see the About NFT and Toolbox Design pages.

 

Back to Top 


 

What operating systems are supported?

 

The NOAA Fisheries Toolbox has been installed and tested on Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7.

 

Back to Top 

 

Problems Installing or Uninstalling

 

The setup install program does not run.

 

Issue 1:

 

Your computer user account must have administrative privileges to install Toolbox applications.

  

If your user account does not have administrative privileges, you may have to log out of your user account and log back in as an administrative user to install a Toolbox program. 

 

With some versions of Windows, you may not have to log out to run the setup program. You may be able to right-click on the installer program and select "Run as..." from the pop-up menu. Then you would select a user name with administrative privileges and type in the password.

 

Note: If your regular computer user account has limited privileges, do not run the Toolbox application as an administrative user. Many models use a configuration file to record user customizations. If this file is created by the administrative user, the limited user may not have permission to modify these customized settings, and some parts of the application may not function correctly when used by the limited privilege user.

 

Issue 2:

 

If you use Windows 2000 you must have Service Pack 4 or later installed.

 

Back to Top 

 

I can't open the compressed ZIP file I just downloaded from the Toolbox web site.

 

All Toolbox downloads are posted as compressed ZIP files. Some recent versions of Windows can extract the files enclosed in the ZIP file without needing additional software. However, you may need to install a compression utility such as WinZip or Pkzip if Windows does not automatically recognize the file format.

 

Back to Top 

 

The installer is asking "Do you want to keep the existing file?" What does this mean?

 

During the installation, you may encounter the message:

"The existing file is newer than the one Setup is trying to install. It is recommended that you keep the existing file.

This simply indicates that you have a more recent copy of a helper file needed to run the program. At the prompt, "Do you want to keep the existing file?" click "Yes" to keep the file that is on your computer or click "No" to overwrite the file with the one supplied by the installation package.  It is generally recommended to keep the file that is newer.

 

Back to Top 

 

I just uninstalled a Toolbox model. Now other NFT models on my computer don't work.

 

Under certain conditions, uninstalling a Toolbox model may disable other Toolbox models. This seems to happen if you installed and ran Toolbox models as an administrative user, but then switched to using Toolbox models as a limited permission user.

 

A common error message in this situation is:

 

"Component 'NFTFlexGrid.ocx' or one of its dependencies not currently registered: a file is missing or invalid."

 

Try one of the following workarounds.

 

Workaround 1:

 

  1. Search for a file called "NFTFlexGrid.ocx" by using the Windows Search tool located in the Start menu. You will probably have several copies on your computer.

  2. Note the location of any one of the copies of "NFTFlexGrid.ocx".

  3. Open the Windows Command Prompt as an administrative user. You can do this by going to the Start menu > Programs > Accessories, then right-clicking on the Command Prompt shortcut and selecting "Run as...".

  4. Type the following, where <path> is the location of "NFTFlexGrid.ocx" from step 2:

 

regsvr32 "<path>\NFTFlexGrid.ocx"

 

  1. Hit Enter. You will get a message confirming that NFTFlexGrid.ocx was properly registered if the procedure is successful.

 

Workaround 2: 

 

Installing almost any recent (April 2007 and later) Toolbox model that has the new grid editing tool (most models do, including AIM, ASPIC, SCALE, SRFIT, VPA, YPR), fixes the problem by having the setup program re-register the grid editing tool.

 

Back to Top 

 

Getting Started

 

I just installed a Toolbox program. How do I get started?

 

Each model includes one or more sample input files. You may open one of these sample input files, or any other existing input file, and modify the data. Or you may construct a new case from scratch. 

 

In most models, the command to open an existing input file or to create a new case from scratch is located in the File menu. 

 
You may wish to consult the graphic interface help for model-specific information. There is usually a topic named "Getting Started" that will help guide you. The help manual can be accessed from the Help menu, or by pressing the "F1" key on your keyboard.

 

Tip: If you use an existing input file, you may want to save the file under a different file name before altering the input data so that you don't accidentally overwrite data in the original file.

  

Back to Top 

 

Basic overview of how to use the graphic interface.

 

Most Toolbox graphic interfaces consists of three main sections:

  • a menu bar at the top of the main program window which executes user commands (such as File > Save or Model > Run);

  • at least one input window where data are entered and verified,

  • at least one output window which displays the results of the model in tables and/or plots.

 

The output window(s) are available for viewing only after the model has been run, or after the results of a previous run have been loaded back into the program.

 

You can switch between the input and output windows by choosing the appropriate item from the Window menu in the menu bar. Each window contains several tabs, similar to file folder tabs in a desk drawer, to help organize and categorize the information.

 

You can modify the input data and model options and edit the data grids within the program. You can insert data from other applications by copying the data to the Windows clipboard and pasting it into the various text boxes and grids.

 

When you are done modifying the input data, you can run the model and view the resulting output in tables and/or plots. If the model has been run previously, you can load the results back into the graphic interface without having to re-run the model. You can copy the output tables to the Windows clipboard for pasting into other applications. You can also save the plots individually or, in many cases, collect specified plots into a single text document.

  

Back to Top 

 

How do I get help relating to the specific graphic interface chart, grid, button or box that I am working with?

 

Most models incorporate "context sensitive help" to provide guidance on the graphic interface object (e.g., a form, button, chart, grid, etc.) that you are working with. By pressing the "F1" key on your keyboard you can display the graphic interface help file, and in many cases, it will go directly to the topic of interest.

 

Back to Top 

 

I don't understand what the label for this text box or button (or other graphic interface object) means. Is there something like a pop-up help box that can help me?

 

Some models include pop-up text describing important graphic interface objects like text boxes, buttons, or grids. If a pop-up note is available, hovering the mouse pointer over the object will display the pop-up text.

 

When pop-up text is not available, many graphic interface features are described in the help manual. Press the "F1" key on your keyboard to display context sensitive help. Or, you can go to the graphic interface Help menu (located in the top row of the application) and select the help file from there.

 

Back to Top 

 

How do I get information about the underlying stock assessment model that this program uses?

 

Information about the stock assessment model used in the program can be accessed from the graphic interface Help menu. Most models include a PDF reference manual, separate from the graphic interface help file, that describes this information. For other models, information about the model is integrated with the graphic interface help file.

 

To view the PDF reference manual you will need a program such as Acrobat Reader that can read PDF files. Acrobat Reader is available for free at http://www.adobe.com.

 

Back to Top 

 

Problems Entering or Saving Data

 

I can't save my input data.

 

Issue 1:

 

Almost all Toolbox models perform validation checks to the input data when they are saved to ensure that they can be utilized by the calculation engine. The validation routine checks that all inputs to the model are specified and, for some kinds of data, that the values fall within a certain basic range. In order to save the file, all input quantities must be specified and valid. 

 

Every attempt is made in the graphical interface to avoid the actual loss of data caused by exiting prematurely from the graphical interface, but there are cases where it may be possible to enter an infeasible input that can not be handled without error.

 

Tip: Modifying an exiting input file can help prevent an invalid model specification.

 

The only exceptions to the required validation checks are VPA / ADAPT and Visual Report Designer. With VPA / ADAPT, there is a Save file without validation feature that allows you to save incomplete data without checking for errors. Note that you will need to save the data with validation before you can run the model. With Visual Report Designer, which doesn't have a calculation engine, all changes you make to the report are saved automatically. 

 

Issue 2:

 

If you installed the Toolbox model under a user account with administrator privileges and are running the model as a limited user, you may not have permissions to modify files or folders that were created by the administrator user. You will need to have the administrator user change the file or folder permissions for you.

 

Under Windows XP, you can check if your currently logged in user has the appropriate permissions by doing the following:

    • In the Windows Explorer file folder view, right-click on the file name or folder name to bring up a menu of options and select Properties.

    • Select the Security tab, then click on your user name from the list of user names.

    • The recommended setting is to allow Full Control to the file or folder.

 

Back to Top 

 

Why can't I import my text file into the selected data grid?

 

In older Toolbox models (i.e., prior to April 2007) users can import text files using the Import Data to Grids menu item, located in the Data menu of the model's tool bar. In these cases, the number of rows and columns in the text file that the user wishes to import must be the same as the number of rows and columns of the target data grid (exclusive of row and column headers). For more information please refer to the help file (*.chm) provided with the model. The help file can be accessed by going to the Help menu and selecting the appropriate item (typically Using [model name]) from the list.

 

Data can also be imported by opening the file in a spreadsheet, copying the data to the Windows clipboard, and then pasting it into the selected grid. 

 

For copying and pasting using older versions of NFT models, the number of rows and columns of the copied data must be the same as the number of rows and columns that the user has selected in the target grid (exclusive of row and column headers). Please refer to the help file (*.chm) provided with the model for more information. 

 

Note: Newer versions of Toolbox models use a new grid editing tool that provides for easier copying and pasting of data. The new grid editing tool does not require users to select the same number of rows and columns as the copied data. It is suggested that users install the latest model version to access this and other improvements.

 

Back to Top 

 

Problems Running the Model

 

The calculation engine exits without running my model.

 

Issue 1:

 

Users of older Toolbox models (i.e., prior to April 2007) should not place input files in directories with spaces in the file or folder name (e.g., "model  run  4.dat" for a file name or "My Documents" for a folder name). The graphical interface passes the name of the user's input file to the calculation engine as part of a space-delimited argument list. If there are spaces in the file or folder name, the calculation interprets each section between the spaces as a separate argument, assumes that the path to the input file is the portion before the first space, and incorrectly determines that the file doesn't exist. To fix this problem, use an underscore ( _ ) instead of spaces in file and directory names.

 

Issue 2:

 

The calculation engine may also exit without running the model if the output files are in use by a text editor, perhaps from the previous model run. If the output files are in use by another application, the calculation engine will fail to be able to write the new output file. In this case, close the application you are using to view the output files before running the model.

 

Issue 3:

 

If you installed the Toolbox model under a user account with administrator privileges and are running the model as a limited user, you may not have permissions to modify files or folders that were created by the administrator user. You will need to have the administrator user change the file or folder permissions for you.

 

Under Windows XP, you can check if your currently logged in user has the appropriate permissions by doing the following:

    • In the Windows Explorer file folder view, right-click on the file name or folder name to bring up a menu of options and select Properties.

    • Select the Security tab, then click on your user name from the list of user names.

    • The recommended setting is to allow Full Control to the file or folder.

 

Back to Top 

 

Useful Tips and Tricks

 

Starting with an existing input file.

 

Users commonly start with a previous input file and alter it to fit expanded data for a new case. A good practice is to save the previous input file with a different file name just after opening it in the graphic interface, but before altering any of the data. In this way you will not lose data as you make changes, or accidentally overwrite data from the original case.

 

Back to Top 

 

How do I quickly input data into grids?

 

For newer versions of Toolbox models (April 2007 and later):

 

Newer versions of Toolbox models incorporate a new grid editing tool. The new tool streamlines data entry when typing from the keyboard and when pasting data from the Windows clipboard. Features of the new grid editing tool include:

  • To enter data from the keyboard, select a cell (using the mouse or arrow keys) and simply begin typing.

  • When you are done typing, press the Enter key or one of the arrow keys to go to the next cell.

  • Shortcut key combination are available for commonly used functions (CTRL-X for Cut, CTRL-C for Copy, CTRL-V for Paste, CTRL-A for Select All, DEL for Delete).

  • Commonly used editing functions (including Fill Right and Fill Down) are available from a pop-up menu by right-clicking anywhere on the grid.

  • To paste data, there is no longer a need to select an exact range of cells. Simply select the top-left cell where you want the data pasted, and the pasted data will fill out to the right and bottom edges of the grid automatically.

 

For older versions of Toolbox models (prior to April 2007):

 

In older Toolbox models, the Copy & Paste feature associated with the data grids is the quickest way to add large sections of data. To copy or paste grid data in older models, first highlight multiple cells in the grid. The Copy/Paste to Clipboard form automatically pops up allowing you to copy the range of selected cells, or to paste previously copied data into the selected range of cells. When pasting data into a grid using the older Toolbox models, it is important to select the same number of rows and columns in the grid as the copied data contains.

 

In some older Toolbox models entire grids can be created by importing or exporting data from text files. The options for importing and exporting text files to and from grids can be accessed from the application's Data menu.

 

Note that the copied or imported data should not contain row or column headers.

 

Back to Top 

 

How do I turn off the "Save Input Files Now?" prompts?

 

In many models, when the user closes the application they are prompted with a message asking to save the input files. This feature is provided to help remind users to save any changes to the input data between model runs. To turn off this prompt, go to the Options menu, click on the Save Prompt on Exit item and select Disable. This will suppress the prompts when the program exits in future sessions.

 

Back to Top 

 

Working with Output Data and Plots

 

How do I save plots for reports?

 

The NOAA Fisheries Toolbox includes built-in plotting capabilities. The plotting component used by the Toolbox is Chart FX by Software FX.  This full featured plotting package allows the user to customize chart appearance. There should be a tool bar above each plot image. If the tool bar is not present, right-click on the plot and select the Toolbar item from the pop up menu. The tool bar allows you to copy the plot image in Windows Bitmap format or Windows Enhanced Metafile format. Either of these file formats may be used to paste the copied image into a word processing document or into an image editing tool such as Microsoft Paint.  

 

In older Toolbox models, a feature was incorporated to allow users to set the color scheme to a printer-friendly color palette with a single click. For older Toolbox models, users should use the Set Light Background item on the Option menu to get a printer friendly image. 

 

In newer Toolbox models, the plotting package incorporates a set of 10 built-in color palettes. For newer models, select one of the palette options from the Palette Selector (the icon that looks like a paint brush) in the plot's tool bar.

 

For saving many plots at one time, many of the models now feature a Create Plot Collection option. This provides an automated means to generate a group of plots. Please see the topic in the model's help file for details specific to that model.

  

Back to Top 

 

Can I use the text editing software of my choice to view the output reports?

 

Many models include a feature to view output reports from within the graphic interface, eliminating the need to navigate to the folder where the output file is stored. Models that incorporate this feature are set to open the output file using a very simple built-in text viewer. 

 

If you wish to use a different text viewer or use a text editing program (such as Microsoft Word or Notepad) to view the output files instead, you may do so by selecting the Select File Viewer item on the Options menu.

 

Back to Top 

 

Other

 

The graphic interface help file won't display properly.

 

A new security feature in recent versions of Windows may prevent the help file from being displayed correctly if you install Toolbox models on a remote or network drive. If you would like to keep the model on the remote drive, copy the help file to a local drive if you wish to use it. The file will be located in the directory where you installed the program and will have a ".CHM" extension. It usually named something similar to "[model]Help.chm". Note that copying the help file to a directory other than the installation directory will disable the context sensitive feature. You will need to navigate to the folder where you copied the help file and double-click on it to open it each time you want to use it.

 

If having access to the help manual from the graphic interface is important to you, you may wish to uninstall the model from the remote drive and re-install it on a local drive. If you accidentally deleted the installation file you may re-download it here.

 

Back to Top 

 

The program screen does not fill out to the size of my monitor display.

 

Toolbox programs were designed to fit many sizes of monitor displays from large desktop resolutions to small laptop resolutions. Therefore, the design size of each Toolbox program was a compromise and would approximately fill the screen if the screen settings are 800 x 600 pixels.  In August of 2008 the Toolbox development team began using the Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 platform for new development and significant program changes, this environment supports the resizing of windows so future and updated NFT models will allow variable window sizes.

 

Back to Top 

 

How should I reference this software in a publication?

 

Please see our topic on referencing NFT software.

 

Back to Top 

 

I can't find a solution to my problem. 

 

Need more help?  Contact NFT Support.

 

Back to Top 

 

NOAA Fisheries Toolbox Version 3.1

website last modified May 16, 2016

 
 

Printer friendly view

 
www.nefsc.noaa.gov
NMFS Search
Link Disclaimer
webMASTER
Privacy Policy
(File Modified Mar. 28 2008)