Recently, Power Market Insights asked EPIS’s support team to share their top tips for making the most of AURORAxmp. EPIS is known for having best-in-class support and the experts on the team had some very useful advice to share.
Using Both AURORAxmp’s Help Feature and the Website’s Knowledge Base
- Take advantage of context-sensitive Help. One very useful feature, especially when first learning the model is the context-sensitive Help. You can always learn more about a specific form or column/table in the model by selecting it and pressing F1 on your keyboard. The Help document contains a wealth of information about all aspects of the model and how it works, making it a valuable reference for users from beginners to experts.
- Utilize the online Knowledge Base. Although Help is an excellent way to familiarize yourself with the nuts and bolts of AURORAxmp, the online Knowledge Base on the Support website contains a catalog of presentations on topics that can help you learn the model faster. You can find a compilation of presentations that were given at past conferences, like our annual Electric Market Forecasting Conference or our Spring Group Trainings, not only from EPIS employees but other AURORAxmp users as well. Many of the presentations give step-by-step examples on how to set up different inputs in the model. Using the Knowledge Base alongside the Help document is a great way for a user to thoroughly understand specific areas of AURORAxmp.
Working with AURORAxmp Inputs and Outputs
- Be judicious with output reporting. Output databases can grow quickly, which can also increase runtimes. Be sure to limit reporting to just the data you need by using the Report column, available in most input tables. By setting the Report Column to TRUE and de-selecting the All Items box in Run Setup > Reporting form for that output table, you can limit output to just the items you are most interested in. Couple this with the Custom Columns feature, where only the columns you need are reported and you’ll have a perfectly tailored output database.
- Take advantage of the dbCompare tool. You can compare either Input or Output databases and then save the results to Excel. In both cases, you can keep a permanent record of the differences, without having to review multiple change sets or manually compare outputs.
- Avoid errors due to Improper permissions. Check to make sure that your folder permissions are correct, which will save time in the long run. In some IT environments with enhanced user access security, it may be necessary for your IT team to give you additional rights to certain folders on the system. Contact our Support Team to find out which folders need read and write access.
- Test changes in small batches. Take a look at the Data Management article in the Help’s Knowledge Base. When planning to make large sets of changes, it is wise to test them in small batches. Specifically, perform a short AURORAxmp run after each batch to ensure data was entered properly and is flowing through the model as intended. It is simple to set your period/hours to something very short and fast and direct output to a temporary database. This practice alone can save significant time and effort in tracing troublesome input data.
Managing, Saving, Authenticating
- Use Tab My Forms. Many people are unaware of the Tab My Forms option which can help organize multiple AURORAxmp windows on their screens. It can be found under Tools > Options > User Preferences. Along the same lines, if you right-click on a tab, you can select Close All But This to help clean-up your screen when you have too many tabs open.
- Create an archive of your project. If you think you need to replicate the results in the future, create an archive. They are great for packaging all the file components of your project into a single .zip file and can easily be transferred to colleagues or used to store a project that you may need to revisit in the future. Once an archive is opened, the project contains everything you need to replicate the output—the same database, change sets, and project settings. Once unarchived, you simply have to hit Run to replicate the output. This can come in handy if you are asked to replicate output or verify input parameters and run settings.
- Know your SQL Server authentication options. AURORAxmp supports two methods to authenticate with your SQL Server: Windows Active Directory-based and SQL Server-based. Windows Active Directory is typically used when individual users are writing output that doesn’t need to be accessed or modified by other users in the organization. SQL Server authentication is best used when output files are going to be shared by multiple users. In this case, some organizations prefer to use a common, single, SQL Server username for multiple users to share.
- Understand which computer hardware is best. Considering new hardware? AURORAxmp runs best on physical hardware with fast RAM, a fast CPU and speedy disks. Low latency RAM and a good memory controller seem to have the greatest impact on runtime, followed closely by a fast CPU. While AURORAxmp will take advantage of threading in a variety of places, for a single case fast, single-threaded CPUs with a high clock speed seem to perform best. The fastest AURORAxmp runtimes have been observed on overlocked physical hardware with low latency RAM.
Of course, the support experts at EPIS can help with any questions or issues you may have. Next time you talk to one of them, be sure to ask them about tips and tricks to maximizing the power of AURORAxmp.