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We Get By With a Little "Help"... in STK 11

By: Matt White
STK 11 boasts an impressive collection of new features, many of which have been highlighted here in this blog, on the STK 11 training tour, and elsewhere. One of the surprise hits of STK 11, however, offers no new analysis or visualization capability to the venerable tool kit. In fact, this new feature doesn’t do anything; unless, that is, you want to know how to do something with STK.

The new STK 11 Help portal
I’m referring to the STK Desktop help system, which received a significant reorganization and technological overhaul for STK 11. There are two major changes to the help system in STK 11, apart from the fact that it’s… well, it’s just strikingly beautiful, isn’t it? Graceful, lithe, radiant in white… I could go on. Mercifully, I won’t. Anyway, the point is, yes, I know it’s nice to look at, but there’s much more here than merely what pleases the eye. The two major changes that I’d like to discuss are the new search capability and the new tutorials section.


Why am I emphasizing the search capability? Two reasons, primarily. First, the STK Desktop help system has over 6,000 help topics. The good news is that you have access to a whole bunch of information about how to use STK and how STK does the things that it does (I’m assured by some testy fellows in our Products division that it is not, in fact, just sorcery). The bad news is that, to get that information, you have to wade through the 5,999 topics that aren’t the one that you want. Search is obviously the most efficient way to do that. Second, because search engine technology has become so efficient, most people have become accustomed to searching, rather than browsing, for information that they want. The STK 11 Desktop help system has a new search engine that functions much like that slightly more famous search engine that you might use from time to time out on the intertubes. In fact, it works so much like that other search engine that I’m just going to point you toward one significant difference and then let the STK help system speak for itself about the rest. It can do that, you see, because there’s a topic right at the bottom of the Contents list that tells you all the particulars about how to make the most effective searches. The one difference from that other search engine that I do want to highlight here is the set of search filters that you can access from the search bar. The search filters allow you to screen out search results that aren’t relevant to the selected filter. This can take a list of a few  hundred search results and reduce it to a half dozen, which obviously makes it much faster to find the topic that you’re looking for. You can apply a search filter before or after you enter search terms, so that you can try multiple filters on the same set of terms without having to reenter them. What you can’t do is apply more than one filter at a time. I do humbly apologize. The person responsible for that capability has “volunteered” to be our company representative at this year’s Polar Bear Plunge in Deadhorse, Alaska.


AGI has always provided a wide array of self-paced tutorials. In fact, that array became too wide, and it was sometimes challenging for our customers to find the lessons that they wanted and verify that they were current with the latest version of STK. In addition, many of our self-paced tutorials were delivered as PDF documents and this hid them from the search engine inside the STK Desktop help system. Therefore, because we know how important these materials are to our customers, we gave our knuckles a thorough cracking and got to work consolidating, updating, and reformatting our tutorials for STK 11. All of the lessons are now delivered in HTML and can be returned as search results; there’s even a search filter specifically for training and tutorial topics. Furthermore, the tutorials were all organized by subject matter and given helpful descriptions of what they’ll teach you to do. You can see this nice, convenient set of lists in the Tutorial Overview topic in the Training and Tutorials section of the STK Desktop help system.

STK 11's Tutorial Overview
Well, they said to keep this post under eight hundred words and I’m just about there. Besides, I’d hate to keep you from searching for that tutorial that you really want to use for even a moment longer.
Happy hunting!
Posted: 3/2/2016 2:19:54 PM