The aim of the MENU project is to modernise and upgrade the MELA software into an innovative software called Mela2.0 which will provide scientific transparency and enable versatile and collaborative research. Should the work succeed beyond expectations, the project results may even be utilised internationally.

The Mela2.0 software will be more versatile and scalable than its predecessor. However, to achieve vital qualities such as user-friendliness and suitability, it is necessary to interact with Luke researchers and organisations involved in the project, such as Metsähallitus. For this purpose, the MENU project organised a workshop on 18 June 2021 under the theme of public model function library and its user interface within the Mela2.0 software.

The event was the first of its kind in a series of workshops which will be held to present the MENU project results and to gain feedback and new ideas. Participants were invited from Luke’s MESU Group (Forest resource inventory and forest planning) because of their cutting-edge experience and expertise in forest planning, especially in large scale scenarios. Their feedback on the MENU project is essential. In the future, both internal and external feedback will be sought on the requirements and characteristics of the Mela2.0 and on components created around it.

The workshop was opened by project manager Reijo Mykkänen, followed by researcher Daniel Melander’s presentation on the implementation of the upcoming model function library. Finally, Juho-Petteri Yliuntinen, expert from Luke’s Digital Group and a new member of the MENU project team, presented a browser-based user interface of the model function library and its preliminary functionalities. The user interface was developed during spring 2021.

In the workshop, we focused on the functionality and use of the model function library and on receiving feedback both on its contents and functionalities. We asked for feedback on the contents of the model function library which acts as a central depository for models that are planned to be part of Mela2.0 software. Model functions are stored as source code functions and linked with a description of each model’s key characteristics. These descriptions include essential information about each model function and its suitability for different uses; both to researchers and to the Mela2.0 software, which forms calculation chains from the model function.

Below are listed essential details that need to be described about each model function:

  • Original publication of the model function
  • Author’s name
  • Area of application
  • Input and output variables

Before model functions are stored in the model function library, they are packaged into functional and logical entities. These packages form the core of model functions that are applied in the Mela2.0 software which may be supplemented with other model packages.  Packaging of model functions is part of a certification process conducted by the Mela Team. The aim of this process is to harmonize the model functions with the Mela2.0 software.

A user interface was implemented during spring in the MENU project to allow sharing of model functions and model function packages from the model function library. The interface was presented at the workshop and participants gave their feedback on its functionalities. This web-based browsing tool includes both a search and a filter function for searching model functions from the model function library. Model function packages can be filtered according to their model function descriptions. Below is a screen capture of the user interface presented at the workshop.

Picture 1. User interface of the model function library presented at the workshop.

At the end of the workshop, we put forward a set of questions to the participants. The questions were related to the requirements for the model function library, model functions, functionality of the tool and information presented on the user interface.

Although we did not get answers to the most detailed questions, this workshop revealed the significance of critical discussion and brainstorming. The most valuable take-away was the idea of a centralized model function library that would also host such model packages that are not related to Mela2.0 software.

The idea of source code models created as a result of research and stored in a centralized storage is interesting and could serve several research organisations also internationally.

Altogether, the event was a successful kick-off in a series of workshops which will present key results from the point of view of Mela2.0 software. The next workshop will be arranged on the theme of model function packages to be included in the Mela2.0. They will form the scientific backbone of the entire software.

Author: Daniel Melander