The next generation of APSIM
Apsim next generation "runs fast, runs everywhere" (i.e. on Windows, iOS and Android devices) and significantly reduces the costs of maintaining the APSIM code in the medium term.
Rationale and Objectives
Over the previous three years, the scientific impact of APSIM has continued to increase (e.g. from 38 publications and 488 citations per year during 2007-9 to 50 and 740 per year during 2010-12). The geographic range of APSIM users has expanded significantly following a relaxation of its licensing regime; roughly 100 licences are now issued each month, and the majority of new users are outside Australia.
As the wider ICT environment evolves, APSIM must evolve with it. Two technical developments, in particular, require a significant response by the APSIM Initiative:
- The advent of ubiquitous mobile computing, much of it based on variants of the Unix operating system, means that the existing Windows-centric code base will become inadequate to meet users’ needs within the next 5-10 years.
- Increases in available computing power – mainly through the harnessing of multiple CPUs – mean that researchers are using APSIM to carry out ever-larger simulation experiments in scientific contexts including genetic evaluation, land use tradeoffs and climate change adaptation. This is resulting in demand for greater execution speeds and for efficient ways of delivering modelling results at the level of the simulation experiment rather than the individual simulation run.
While applications of APSIM and specific enhancements of its scientific capability continue to attract co-investment, there is an ongoing need for maintenance of the APSIM software that falls to the parties in the APSIM joint venture to carry out. Over the last 3 years, significant progress has been made on software quality assurance (and hence risk management) within the APSIM Initiative. The main obstacle to further improvement in software quality is now the multiple “infrastructure” codes that are used as the basis for the code that implements the scientific models.