Stella Architect Review: Pros, Cons, and Features
What is Isee Systems Stella Architect and why you need it?
If you are looking for a powerful and user-friendly modeling tool to create professional simulations and presentations, you might want to check out Isee Systems Stella Architect. Stella Architect is a software that allows you to design, build, and publish models that can help you understand and communicate how complex systems and ideas work. Whether you want to model supply chains, ecosystems, business processes, social systems, or anything else, Stella Architect can help you do it with ease and elegance.
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Introduction to Stella Architect
Stella Architect is a product of Isee Systems, a company that is dedicated to increasing understanding of our world through modeling and simulation software. Stella Architect is the latest version of Stella, which has been around since 1985 and has been used by thousands of educators, researchers, consultants, and policy makers around the world. Stella Architect is based on system dynamics, a method of modeling that focuses on the feedback loops and delays that shape the behavior of complex systems over time. Stella Architect also supports discrete event and agent-based modeling paradigms, allowing you to integrate different types of models into the same framework.
Benefits of Stella Architect
Stella Architect offers many benefits for anyone who wants to create dynamic models and simulations. Some of these benefits are:
It helps you visualize and communicate how systems work in a clear and engaging way.
It allows you to explore different scenarios and policies and see their impacts over time.
It enables you to test your assumptions and hypotheses and discover leverage points for improving system performance.
It facilitates learning and discovery by creating interactive simulations that invite users to experiment and ask questions.
It simplifies model building by providing a graphical interface that lets you draw causal diagrams and equations without coding.
It enhances model presentation by allowing you to create rich slideshows that combine text, graphics, animations, videos, and live simulations.
It supports model publishing and sharing by enabling you to export your models to the web, desktop, or mobile devices with a single click.
Features of Stella Architect
Stella Architect has many features that make it a powerful and versatile modeling tool. Some of these features are:
Multiple paradigms: You can integrate system dynamics, discrete event, and agent-based modeling into the same model.
Live mode: You can dynamically explore policy implications with instant updates.
Error identification: You can quickly find errors in equations and units.
Data manager: You can easily compare data across multiple files, recall settings and results, and export them.
Sensitivity analysis: You can discover the key leverage points and find optimal conditions.
Causal lens: You can quickly trace the causes of behavioral variables.
Narratives: You can communicate clearly the underlying principles of your system.
Cycle time: You can precisely compute the time of processes and activities.
Functions: You can perform various mathematical, statistical, and logical operations.
How to download and install Stella Architect?
If you are interested in trying out Stella Architect for yourself, you can download it from the official website of Isee Systems. You can choose between a free trial version or a full version that requires a license key. The trial version allows you to use all the features of Stella Architect for 30 days without any limitations. The full version requires a license key that you can purchase from Isee Systems or one of their authorized resellers. The license key is valid for one year and can be renewed annually. The full version also includes technical support and software updates.
To run Stella Architect on your computer, you need to meet the following system requirements:
Operating system: Windows 7 or later or Mac OS X 10.10 or later
Processor: Intel Core i3 or equivalent
Memory: 4 GB RAM (8 GB recommended)
Disk space: 1 GB or more
Internet connection: Required for activation and publishing
To install Stella Architect on your computer, follow these steps:
Download the installation file from the Isee Systems website or from the link provided in your email confirmation.
Run the installation file and follow the instructions on the screen.
Accept the license agreement and choose the destination folder for the installation.
Select the components you want to install (Stella Architect application, examples, documentation).
Click Install to start the installation process.
Wait for the installation to finish and click Finish to exit the installer.
To activate Stella Architect on your computer, follow these steps:
Launch Stella Architect from your desktop or start menu.
If you have a license key, enter it in the activation dialog box. If you don't have a license key, click Start Trial to activate the trial version.
If you have an internet connection, click Activate Online to complete the activation process. If you don't have an internet connection, click Activate Offline to generate an activation request file that you can send to Isee Systems via email or web form.
If your activation is successful, you will see a confirmation message. If your activation fails or expires, you will see an error message. In either case, click OK to close the dialog box.
How to use Stella Architect for modeling and simulation?
To use Stella Architect for modeling and simulation, you need to follow three main steps:
Create a model using causal diagrams and equations.
Run a simulation using different settings and scenarios.
Analyze the results using graphs, tables, statistics, sensitivity analysis, etc.
Creating a model
To create a model using Stella Architect, follow these steps:
Create a new model file by clicking File > New or by pressing Ctrl+N (Windows) or Command+N (Mac).
Name your model file by clicking File > Save As or by pressing Ctrl+Shift+S (Windows) or Command+Shift+S (Mac).
Select a modeling paradigm (system dynamics, discrete event, agent-based) by clicking Model > Paradigm or by pressing F6.
Create a causal diagram by dragging icons from the palette onto the canvas. Connect them with arrows to represent causal relationships. Double-click on icons or arrows to edit their properties (name, equation, units).
Add text boxes or pictures to annotate your diagram by clicking Insert > Text Box or Insert > Picture. Resize or move them as needed.
Add submodels or modules to organize your model into hierarchical levels by clicking Model > New Submodel or Model > New Module. Drag icons from one level to another to link them together.
Running a simulation
To run a simulation using Stella Architect, follow these steps:
Select a simulation setting (time horizon, time step) by clicking Simulation > Settings or by pressing F7.
Select an initial condition (default values) by clicking Simulation > Initial Condition or by pressing F8.
Select a scenario (alternative values) by clicking Simulation > Scenario Manager or by pressing F9. Create new scenarios by clicking New Scenario button. Edit scenario values by double-clicking on cells in scenario table.
Analyzing the results
To analyze the results of your simulation using Stella Architect, follow these steps:
Select a graph or a table that displays the output variables you want to analyze.
Use the toolbar buttons to zoom in, zoom out, pan, or reset the view of the graph or table.
Use the legend to show or hide different variables or scenarios on the graph or table.
Use the context menu to change the graph or table properties, such as title, axis labels, colors, fonts, etc.
Use the statistics window to see summary statistics for each variable or scenario, such as mean, median, standard deviation, min, max, etc.
Use the sensitivity analysis window to see how sensitive each variable is to changes in input parameters.
How to publish and share your Stella Architect models?
To publish and share your Stella Architect models with others, follow these steps:
Stella Architect allows you to publish your models to different platforms and formats. You can choose from the following options:
Publish to web: This option allows you to upload your model to the isee Exchange website, where you can share it with anyone who has a web browser and an internet connection. You can also embed your model on your own website or blog using an HTML code.
Publish to desktop: This option allows you to export your model as a standalone executable file that can run on Windows or Mac computers without requiring Stella Architect. You can distribute this file via email, USB drive, CD-ROM, etc.
Publish to mobile: This option allows you to export your model as a mobile app that can run on iOS or Android devices without requiring Stella Architect. You can distribute this app via App Store, Google Play, or other platforms.
Stella Architect also allows you to share your models with other Stella Architect users. You can choose from the following options:
Share model file: This option allows you to send your model file (.stmx) to other Stella Architect users via email, cloud storage, etc. They can open and edit your model file using Stella Architect on their own computers.
Share model package: This option allows you to create a model package (.stpk) that contains your model file and all the associated files (images, videos, data files, etc.). You can send this package to other Stella Architect users via email, cloud storage, etc. They can import and open your model package using Stella Architect on their own computers.
Share model library: This option allows you to create a model library (.stml) that contains multiple model files and packages that are related by a common theme or topic. You can send this library to other Stella Architect users via email, cloud storage, etc. They can import and browse your model library using Stella Architect on their own computers.
Tips and best practices
To make sure that your published and shared models work properly and look professional, follow these tips and best practices:
Test your model before publishing or sharing it. Make sure that it runs smoothly and produces correct results.
Add narratives and annotations to explain your model structure and logic. Make sure that they are clear and concise.
Add slideshows and storytelling to enhance your model presentation and learning experience. Make sure that they are engaging and interactive.
Optimize your model size and performance by removing unnecessary elements and simplifying equations. Make sure that your model runs fast and does not consume too much memory.
Protect your model intellectual property by adding a license agreement and a watermark. Make sure that you have permission to use any external content (images, videos, data) in your model.
In this article, we have introduced Isee Systems Stella Architect as a powerful and user-friendly modeling tool for creating professional simulations and presentations. We have explained what Stella Architect is, why you need it, what benefits and features it offers. We have also shown how to download and install Stella Architect on your computer, how to use it for modeling and simulation, and how to publish and share your models with others. We hope that this article has inspired you to try out Stella Architect for yourself and discover its potential for modeling complex systems and ideas.
What is the difference between Stella Architect, Stella Professional, and Stella Designer?
Stella Architect is the most advanced version of Stella that includes all the features of Stella Professional plus interface building and publishing capabilities. Stella Professional is a version of Stella that includes all the features of Stella Designer plus advanced modeling capabilities such as discrete event and agent-based modeling. Stella Designer is a basic version of Stella that includes core modeling capabilities such as system dynamics modeling.
How much does Stella Architect cost?
The price of Stella Architect depends on the type of license you choose. There are three types of licenses: individual license ($999/year), academic license ($499/year), and student license ($99/year). You can also get discounts for volume purchases or multi-year subscriptions.
Where can I find more resources and support for using Stella Architect?
System Dynamics Society website (https://www.systemdynamics.org/)
The AnyLogic website (https://www.anylogic.com/)
What are some examples of models created with Stella Architect?
There are many examples of models created with Stella Architect that cover various domains and applications. Some of these examples are:
The COVID-19 Simulator by Isee Systems (https://exchange.iseesystems.com/public/isee/covid-19-simulator/index.html#/Dashboard)
The Climate Interactive En-ROADS Simulator by Climate Interactive and MIT Sloan (https://en-roads.climateinteractive.org/scenario.html?v=2.7.35)
The World Climate Simulation by Climate Interactive and MIT Sloan (https://www.climateinteractive.org/programs/world-climate/)
The Bathtub Dynamics Simulator by John D. Sterman (https://exchange.iseesystems.com/public/john_sterman/bathtub-dynamics/index.html#/Dashboard)
The Beer Game Simulator by John D. Sterman (https://exchange.iseesystems.com/public/john_sterman/beer-game/index.html#/Dashboard)
How can I create my own models with Stella Architect?
You can create your own models with Stella Architect by following the steps described in the previous section of this article. You can also use the built-in examples, tutorials, and templates as a starting point for your own models. You can access them by clicking File > Open Example or File > New From Template.