The tutorials in this section provide an overview in to running a ‘virtual experiment’ using VirtualLab.

These examples give an overview of:

  • how meshes and simulations can be created parametrically without the need for a graphical user interface (GUI).

  • the available options during simulations that give the user a certain degree of flexibility.

  • methods of debugging.

  • VirtualLab’s in-built pre and post-processing capabilities.

There is a tutorial for each of VirtualLab’s virtual experiments.

Before starting the tutorials, it is advised to first read the Code Structure and Running VirtualLab sections for an overview of VirtualLab. Then it is best to work through the tutorials in order as each will introduce new tools that VirtualLab has to offer.

These tutorials assume a certain level of pre-existing knowledge about the finite element method (FEM) as a prerequisite. Additionally, these tutorial do not aim to teach users on how to use the Code_Aster software itself, only its implementation as part of VirtualLab. For Code_Aster tutorials we recommend the excellent website feaforall.com. Because VirtualLab can be run completely from scripts, without opening the Code_Aster graphical user interface (GUI), VirtualLab can be used without being familiar with Code_Aster.

‘Setting up data for visualisation’ is outside the scope of these tutorials. The ParaVis module within SALOME is based on another piece of open-source software called ParaView. If you would like to learn more about how to visualise datasets with SALOME it is recommended that you follow the tutorials available on feaforall.com and paraview.org.

Each tutorial is structured as follows: firstly the experimental test sample (i.e. geometry domain) is introduced followed by an overview of the boundary conditions and constraints being applied to the sample to emulate the physical experiment. Then a series of tasks are described to guide the user through various stages with specific learning outcomes.

Simulations are initiated by launching VirtualLab in the command line with a RunFile specified using the flag -f:

VirtualLab -f </PATH/TO/RUNFILE>

If running VirtualLab with a container, follow the appropriate guidance for your setup.

Run.py in the VirtualLab top level directory is a template of a RunFile which is used to launch VirtualLab. Additional examples of RunFiles are available in the RunFiles directory, where the file RunTutorials.py is located which will be used for these tutorials.


To help with following the tutorials, certain keyword arguments (referred to as kwargs) have been changed from their default values in RunTutorials.py. In VirtualLab.Settings Mode has been changed to ‘Interactive’, while in VirtualLab.Sim ShowRes is set to True.


You may wish to save a backup of RunTutorials.py such that you may return to the default template without needing to re-download it.