User Experience Improvements to Pathfinder 2021.1

Posted on February 23rd, 2021

Pathfinder will also benefit from feedback from our users. This release focuses on incorporating their suggestions in to our products to improve the user experience. We have made several usability improvements to Pathfinder in the 2021.1 release, some of which are mentioned below. You can view the full list on the Pathfinder Release Notes page after the release on February 24th.

Added copy/paste functionality to Occupant Profiles

Expanding upon the functionality that we added to copy and paste geometry in Pathfinder 2020.1, we added the ability to copy and paste Occupant Profiles between separate Pathfinder instances. This means that users will no longer have to re-define the same profile in separate models, and can instead copy the profiles from one model to another. This is especially useful if users have several different profiles that are commonly used across a large number of models.

Added as-you-go undo/redo support for the Add a Polygonal Room tool

Similar to the changes to the wall and slab tools that we mentioned in our post about User Experience Improvements to PyroSim in 2021.1, we have added as-you-go undo/redo support for the add a Polygonal Room Tool.

Now, if a user makes a mistake when drawing a complex room shape, they will no longer have to start drawing that room from the beginning. They will have the ability to undo/redo any of the points they have drawn. This is especially useful for users that commonly draw their Pathfinder models on top of a 2D floorplan. You can see a short gif of this feature below.

Enhanced Monte Carlo user manual now available under the “help” menu

The Monte Carlo utility packaged with Pathfinder can help create models with randomized occupant positions and properties. This allows users to create multiple randomized copies of a model, run them sequentially, and process the resulting data set for research or regulatory requirements. The User Manual for our Monte Carlo command line utility is now available both online and in the application help menu.

Scripted Screenshots

We recently added the ability for users to interact with the Results viewer of both Pathfinder and PyroSim to generate a series of screenshots based on views that are defined in the Results view. This is particularly for users that generate reports from a series of commonly used views, as it removes the tedium of manually creating these screenshots in the Results UI. You can read more about this feature in Section 2.16.4 of the Results User Manual.

Monte Carlo Improvements in Pathfinder 2020.5

Posted on November 13th, 2020

Since Pathfinder 2018.3, users have been able to take advantage of Monte Carlo simulations through a command line interface. In modeling, the Monte Carlo method is used to randomize inputs across many simulation instances. With a statistical analysis applied, users can create probablistic interpretations of the resulting data sets. It is often used in research and is also required by regulations such as RiMEA. … Read More

Mars Colony Biome Evacuation Analysis by Szymon Matkowski

Posted on August 11th, 2020

Our support team has been assisting Szymon Matkowski with his recent project based on a feasibility study, completed by a team at Wroclaw University of Science and Technology, of possible layouts and technical solutions for a theoretical base on Mars. The study was part of a competition sponsored by The Mars Society in which the team at Wroclaw won second place. In Matkowski’s study, he analyzes evacuation of a Mars colony biome under threat of decompression or fire.

Diagram of Twardowski Colony Biome Evacuation
An overview of Matkowski’s evacuation plan based upon the Wroclaw team’s design.

Safety of the people is a top technical priority in every building or device – in any place. All: structure, MEP systems and the layout should be focused on minimizing the risk of life loss. Design of a base, or colony on other planet also should comply with this principle. The layout of all safety egress communication (passages, corridors, staircases, lifts etc.) should not be changed or altered. The unchangeable layout of those elements is a bone system for the functional layout and all the decoration we see. The drawback of such solution is that – once designed the layout is frozen. Any change leads to re-examination of all safety measures – which is very expensive (even in Earth’s conditions). One of the most important coefficients is evacuation time. Time – which people have to save their lives. This blog entry describes my research on Evacuation movement speed on Mars and a sample evacuation time count. Depending on the threat (decompression, fire and smoke) additional means should be provided : smoke exhaust, additional air supply, sealed safety rooms, emergency teams access routes and action plan. For the purpose of the investigation I have used a fragment of Twardowsky Mars Colony. Twardowsky won 2nd prize in 2019 competition organized by Mars Society. You may see the presentation here. Also the competition entry of the Base was published in a book.

During Matkowski’s analysis, which he completed in less than two months as his first Pathfinder project, many challenges were addressed. This included approximating the speed adjustment with Mars gravity and with various space suit equipment, behavior adjustment upon triggering events such as decompression, and the simulation of airlocks with pressurization phases. The Thunderhead Engineering support team aided Matkowski throughout these challenges which led to his successful analysis.

You can read Matkowski’s full analysis for free on the website.

Social Distance Improvements in Pathfinder 2020.3

Posted on August 7th, 2020

Pathfinder 2020.3 further enhances the user’s ability to model social distance behavior as a method to address pandemic safety. Social Distance has been completely separated from Comfort Distance. Now, rather than Enable Forced Separation in the Simulation Parameters (retained in 2020.3 for legacy files), Social Distancing has its own selection field in the Advanced tab of the Edit Profiles dialog. With this recent development, occupants exhibit less “jostle” or “jitter” while smoothly and effectively maintaining distance. … Read More

Change Profile Dynamically with New Behavior Step

Posted on November 19th, 2019

Coming soon in Pathfinder 2019.3 we will see a new Behavior step that allows occupants to dynamically change their Profile. A similar feature was added previously where occupants could change their behavior. The profile contains the occupant’s characteristics such as speed, door choice, and various settings related to interacting with other occupants in the model. 

Profile Dialog

You can adjust the behavior step to assign a specific Profile, or to randomly assign one of many options from a defined distribution. This is similar to how changing behaviors works. 

There are many possible uses for this new feature. Occupants could move from a healthy profile to injured or fatigued. Occupants with limited mobility can switch from walking to wheelchair assisted movement. We’re curious to hear what ideas you have for this feature, so please feel free to contact us.

Save Settings for Results Visualizations

Posted on October 30th, 2019

The most recent release of the PyroSim and Pathfinder Results application allows users to create, save, and load results visualizations. A results visualization is a collection of settings that define which Pathfinder and FDS results are to be loaded and how those results are to be displayed. It also contains information entered by the user, such as views, tours, colorbar settings, time settings, annotations, object visibility, etc.

Results visualization files end with either .pfrv when saved from Pathfinder Results or .smvv when saved from PyroSim Results. When Pathfinder or FDS results are viewed from either Pathfinder or PyroSim for the first time, a results visualization is automatically created and saved containing the results data. The visualization file name will match that of the originating PTH or PSM file.


You can create multiple visualization files with different data sets (FDS and Pathfinder) and different saved states. This allows a user to reuse previous settings and to save particular visualization configurations for the same data set. This new feature also simplifies file management, as there is now a single visualization file with information that was previously stored in 3 different files (*.pfrmeta, *_resultsviews.json, and *_session.json), along with additional information that was not saved before.

The first version of results visualization available now allows you to save most settings. The rest will follow suit in the last release of the year.

Data Visualization through Occupant Colors in Pathfinder 2019.1

Posted on June 13th, 2019

Pathfinder 2019.1 introduces an additional way to visualize evacuation results through the color of occupants in the model. Occupants can be assigned a dynamic color value based on criteria such as behavior, profile, speed, and more. The video below illustrates many of these options within a single model.

This information can be combined with other displays such as occupant contours, dimensions and labels, or fire and smoke visualization.

Dimensions and Labels for PyroSim and Pathfinder Results

Posted on May 9th, 2019

PyroSim 2019.1 and Pathfinder 2019.1 include linear dimensions and object labels as a tool in Results. This feature has been requested by users in order to provide a better documented report to officials.

“Inspectors, when verifying fire risk calculation reports, require the presence of object sizes on the plans so that they can verify the compliance of the calculation model.”

“It would be great if you add any instrument to create text on scene (rooms and doors names, dimensions etc.).”

This update allows the user to define and display the dimensions and labels as seen in the video below.

The information is dynamically displayed to adjust for better viewing as the camera rotates. Adding new dimensions or labels requires the user to select the appropriate tool and use the cursor to select the points they would like to highlight. The label tool displays the identified object as the user moves the cursor across an object. The dimensions and labels are saved as objects in Results that will persist across new simulations of a given model.

Change Behavior in Pathfinder

Posted on May 16th, 2018

As of Pathfinder 2018.2, Behaviors can now dynamically change from one to another throughout the simulation. The new Change Behavior step allows the user to define a progression to one of the other Behaviors defined in the model. This allows the user to alter the Occupants’ objectives after a specified time, after entering a certain room, or after other specific events.

Behaviors, as described in the Pathfinder Pathfinder User Manual , “represent a sequence of actions the Occupant will take throughout the simulation.” These actions include steps such as Goto Waypoint, Wait, Assist Occupants, and Goto Exits. Change Behavior is a new type of step to randomly assign the Occupant a new Behavior based on a specified distribution. The Occupant will immediately begin the next sequence of actions once the change has executed.

Change Behavior
This list of behaviors models a scenario of occupants traveling from one room to another and eventually leaving the facility.

The Change Behavior step can randomly distribute a subsequent Behavior, including the current one, to each Occupant. In this example, we can have many behaviors that all lead to one another and one terminal behavior which tells the Occupant to leave the model. This scenario represents a shopping mall where Occupants may wander from one shop to the next through a central lobby, eventually leaving.

In this shopping mall, Occupants decide the next store they would like to visit upon exiting the current one.

Each Occupant walks into a room defined by their current behavior, waits between 10 to 30 seconds (to simulate the shopping experience), then the Change Behavior step selects their next Behavior. The distribution of behaviors selected within the Change Behavior step will eventually cause each Occupant to assume the Goto Any Exit Behavior.

Each Behavior is assigned a probability of selection.

There are many other ways to use the Change Behavior step in various applications. It can act as a filter to allow some Occupants to continue the second stage of a behavior while allowing others to switch to a different one. Perhaps this could model some occupants waiting on a rail car while others exit? We hope that you find creative uses for this feature and we are interested to see what you come up with.

Top 10 Reasons You Should be Using the New Integrated PyroSim Results

Posted on April 10th, 2018

PyroSim now includes an integrated Results window. Here are the top 10 reasons you should be using it.

… Read More