Refactoring the SWMM 5 Help File – Tools in SWMM5

Tools in SWMM5

Using Add-In Tools

SWMM 5 has the ability to launch external applications from its graphical user interface that can extend its capabilities. This section describes how such tools can be registered and share data with SWMM 5.

Tools Menu

The Tools Menu contains commands used to configure program preferences, Study Area Map display options, and external add-in tools.

Command Description
Program Preferences Sets program preferences, such as font size, confirm deletions, number of decimal places displayed, etc.
Map Display Options Sets appearance options for the Map, such as object size, object annotation, flow direction arrows, and back-ground color
Configure Tools Adds, deletes, or modifies external add-in tools
Configuring Add-In Tools

To configure one’s personal collection of add-in tools, select Configure Tools from the Tools menu. This will bring up the Tool Options dialog as shown below. The dialog lists the currently available tools and has command buttons for adding a new tool and for deleting or editing an existing tool. The up and down arrow buttons are used to change the order in which the registered tools are listed on the Tools menu.

Whenever the Add or Edit button is clicked on this dialog a Tool Properties dialog will appear which is used to describe the properties of the new tool being added or the existing tool being edited.

What are Add-In Tools

Add-in tools are third party applications that users can add to the Tools menu of SWMM’s Main Menu and be launched while SWMM is still running. SWMM can interact with these applications to a limited degree by exchanging data through its pre-defined files or through the Windows clipboard. Add-in tools can provide additional modeling capabilities to what SWMM already offers. Some examples of useful add-ins might include:

· a tool that performs a statistical analysis of long-term rainfall data prior to adding it to a SWMM rain gage,
· an external spreadsheet program that would facilitate the editing of a SWMM data set,
· a unit hydrograph estimator program that would derive the R-T-K parameters for a set of RDII unit hydrographs which could then be copied and pasted directly into SWMM’s Unit Hydrograph Editor,
· a post-processor program that uses SWMM’s hydraulic results to compute suspended solids removal through a storage unit,
· a third-party dynamic flow routing program used as a substitute for SWMM’s own internal procedure.

The figure below shows what the Tools menu might look like after several add-in tools have been registered with it. The Configure Tools option is used to add, delete, or modify add-in tools. The options below this are the individual tools that have been made available (by this particular user) and can be launched by selecting them from the menu.

Tool Properties Dialog

The Tool Properties dialog is used to describe the properties of an add-in tool that has been added to the Tools menu of SWMM’s Main Menu bar. It contains the following data entry fields:

Tool Name

This is the name to be used for the tool when it is displayed in the Tools Menu.


Enter the full path name to the program that will be launched when the tool is selected. You can click the button to bring up a standard Windows file selection dialog from which you can search for the tool’s executable file name.

Working Directory

This field contains the name of the directory that will be used as the working directory when the tool is launched. You can click the button to bring up a standard directory selection dialog from which you can search for the desired directory. You can also enter the macro symbol $PROJDIR to utilize the current SWMM project’s directory or $SWMMDIR to use the directory where the SWMM 5 executable resides. Either of these macros can also be inserted into the Working Directory field by selecting its name in the list of macros provided on the dialog and then clicking the button. This field can be left blank, in which case the system’s current directory will be used.


This field contains the list of command line arguments that the tool’s executable program expects to see when it is launched. Multiple parameters can be entered field as long as they are separated by spaces. A number of special macro symbols have been pre-defined, as listed in the Macros list box of the dialog, to simplify the process of listing the command line parameters. When one of these macro symbols is inserted into the list of parameters, it will be expanded to its true value when the tool is launched. A specific macro symbol can either be typed into the Parameters field or be selected from the Macros list (by clicking on it) and then added to the parameter list by clicking the button.

Disable SWMM while executing

Check this option if SWMM should be minimized and disabled while the tool is executing. Normally you will need to employ this option if the tool produces a modified input file or output file, such as when the $INPFILE or $OUTFILE macros are used as command line parameters. When this option is enabled, SWMM’s main window will be minimized and will not respond to user input until the tool is terminated.

Update SWMM after closing

Check this option if SWMM should be updated after the tool finishes executing. This option can only be selected if the option to disable SWMM while the tool is executing was first selected. Updating can occur in two ways. If the $INPFILE macro was used as a command line parameter for the tool and the corresponding temporary input file produced by SWMM was updated, then the current project’s data will be replaced with the data contained in the updated temporary input file. If the $OUTFILE macro was used as a command line parameter, and its corresponding file is found to contain a valid set of output results after the tool closes, then the contents of this file will be used to display simulation results within the SWMM workspace.

Generally speaking, the suppliers of third-party tools will provide instructions on what settings should be used in the Tool Properties dialog to properly register their tool with SWMM.

Special Macro Symbols

$PROJDIR The directory where the current SWMM project file resides.
$SWMMDIR The directory where the SWMM 5 executable is installed.
$INPFILE The name of a temporary file containing the current project’s data that is created just before the tool is launched.
$RPTFILE The name of a temporary file that is created just before the tool is launched and can be displayed after the tool closes by using the Report >> Status command from the main SWMM menu.
$OUTFILE The name of a temporary file to which the tool can write simulation results in the same format used by SWMM 5, which can then be displayed after the tool closes in the same fashion as if a SWMM run were made.
$RIFFILE The name of the Runoff Interface File, as specified in the Interface Files page of the Simulation Options dialog, to which runoff simulation results were saved from a previous SWMM run.

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