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Results of the McStas users survey

The McStas users survey was ended on September 23rd. This page presents the main conclusions drawn from the survey.

A total of 22 individuals participated in the survey.

Platform - summary

The platforms (OS/architecture) on which McStas is run is (in order of appearance).
  • Linux / i386 (21)
  • Windows / i386 (9)
  • IRIX / MIPS (3)
  • Linux / alpha (2)
  • HP-UX / PA-RISC (1)
  • Digital Unix / alpha (1)
  • MacOS 9.? / PowerPC (1)
Linux and Windows on PC hardware are the most important platforms, more or less as expected.

McStas version - summary

The preffered versions of McStas are (in order of appearance).

  • McStas 1.4 series (7)
  • McStas 1.5 series (7)
  • McStas 1.6-ill series (7)
  • Version previous to 1.4 (1)
It is seen that the McStas users are roughly divided into three large groups using versions 1.4, 1.5 and 1.6-ill. Two sources of error are important to emphasize here, one beeing the relatively low number of survey participants, and the other that McStas v. 1.5 actually returns "1.4" when run with the -v switch. So if the responding users used "mcstas -v" to determine their local running mcstas version, some of the 1.4 users could actually be 1.5 users.

Most prominent problem - summary

The most problematic area for McStas according to the users is (in order of appearance, disregarding the default choice "No special area").

  • Support applications ( etc.) (7)
  • Lacking support (3)
  • Lacking stability (2)
  • Lacking features (1)
  • Installation procedure (1)
The order above corresponds nicely to what the developers have decided to emphasize on for the next release. Most likely, the current perl/perlTK/PDL/PGPLOT setup will be replaced for the next release. Support should also be better now, since a full-time McStas administrator is now employed at RISØ, general agreement between the McStas developers has been achieved and since the mailing list is functioning again. Lacking stability / consitency in the output of McStas is also beeing worked on, it has been decided to include test procedures for checking performance of new McStas kernels as well as new components. The lacking feature mentioned above regarded the possibility of including a Laue-type time-of-flight area detector. We will work on this. Regarding the reported problem of the current installation procedure, it is possible that this answer regards the "total" installation procedure, including support applications such as PGPLOT. For now at least, it has been decided to stick with source packages only, keeping the current approach (./configure; make; make install), which seems not to cause too many problems.

Other input

Apart from the above input, many other relevant comments were given. A lot of the comments supported the input summarized above, such as "replace the current gui", other are very much in agreement with thought among the McStas developers, e.g. the possibility to include an "adaptive source", a larger number of included example instruments with comments (also relevant for test purposes, cf. above). One user reported the need of a sample data file for Be to supplement the current BeO data file. If someone has such a Be.dat file, we will be happy to include that in the next release. One user mentioned the possibility of including a "step-by-step" installation document for different systems, we can certainly include such a document for the mostly used platforms, and will be happy to include information from people running McStas on other platforms.


The results of the survey is largely in full agreement with the decisions taken for the next McStas release, which is very satisfying. Hopefully, the problems that people are currently pointing out will be sorted out by the next release of McStas. A hard deadline has not been set yet, but the developer team is aiming at releasing next McStas version before 2003.

RISØ, September 30th 2002

Peter Willendrup
Kim Lefmann
Emmanuel Farhi

Last Modified: Tuesday, 22-Jun-2004 14:04:36 CEST
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