Module 4: Using Seamless-IF

Module 4 summarizes the three steps of using SEAMLESS-IF. Module 4 focuses on how to use the Graphical User Interface (GUI), with limited background information. The sub-modules 4.1, 4.2 and 4.3 will go into more detail and into the background of the different steps in SEAMLESS-IF. It will still be focused however on how to use the GUI. Background information on models, data and indicators is given in other Modules.

Icône de l'outil pédagogique Learning objectives
At the end of these lesson the trainee understands how SEAMLESS-IF can be used for impact assessment, and is able to use the Graphical User Interface (GUI).

Icône de l'outil pédagogique Authors

Irina Bezlepkina, Frank Ewert, Martin van Ittersum, Olivier Therond, Rob Knapen

Due to the rapid and always ongoing development of SEAMLESS-IF, the description on how one can use SEAMLESS-IF will need to be updated after the final version is delivered.


The Graphical User Interface (GUI) is structured according to the integrated assessment concept and procedure which is divided into a pre-modelling, modelling and post- modelling phase. The different IA steps relate to each phase as presented in Table 1 and are documented in the software within a Project (Van Ittersum et al., 2008). Flexibility exists within this procedure as not all IA steps, particularly in the pre-modelling phase, need to be completed in order to perform an assessment.


IA phase

IA step


– Problem description

– Scenario definition (experiment designer)

– Indicator manager


– Composition of model chain

– Scaling of model outputs


– Visualization of results

– Exporting, reporting of results

Table 1. Integrated Assessment phases and steps in SEAMLESS-IF.


The Problem is described in the pre-modelling phase, where an agricultural system under assessment is specified by the spatial and temporal extent and resolution. Examples are found in Table 2 for two cases (G20 and Regional) implemented in SEAMLESS-IF, with possible examples for future applications.


Spatial scale


Model chain*






Farm type




Farm type














Table 2. Spatial scales (extent and resolution) and two developed model chains, and three possible examples for future applications.


Various combinations of the extent and resolution determine the appropriate model chain that is operational and to be used for the specific Project in the modelling phase, which is a central part of SEAMLESS-IF. Once the model (chain) is known, a set of indicators is identified that is computable for a specific model (chain). Some or all these indicators need to be selected for a specific Project from the Library of Indicators, from a list-view or from a Goal Oriented Framework-view to enable their computation at a later stage. Scenario narratives from the pre-modelling phase are translated in the modelling phase by specifying model parameters representing policy options, outlook and contexts by means of adjusting the default values. In SEAMLESS, a policy option refers to one or more policy measures as part of it; outlook describes trends foreseen the context of a problem; and the context specifically defines the biophysical and agro-management system (Belhouchette et al., 2007). Examples of models and parameters which are available in the tool for editing are given in Table 3.






Policy option




Annual yield trend, etc.


Tariff rates,

Coupling degrees, etc.




Yield trend, etc.


Coupling degrees,

Farm type resource endowments, etc.

Nutrient management,

Water management,





Nutrient management,

Water management,

Tillage management

Table 3. Examples of selected model parameters available in SEAMLESS-IF to design experiments with outlook, policy option and context.


When the model (chain) run is complete, the results are stored in the system. Indicators that have been selected in the pre-modelling stage can be visualised, also at a later stage once the Project is re-opened. Results can be presented in different formats such as tables, maps and diagrams (line, bar, pie, spider, etc.). Depending on the user role charts can be added and modified (by Integrative Modellers) or reviewed only (for Policy Experts). Since modellers may also be interested in viewing some of the model variables not considered as indicators, to understand the causal relationships that have determined the outcomes of the simulations, an additional option is enabled to store all simulated data in specific (zip-compressed) files in the database.

SEAMLESS-IF is a distributed web service that can be used through a normal web browser. The system allows users to login as an Integrative Modeller (IM) or as a Policy Expert (PE) that activates a set of permissions attached to the specific user role. Through interactions with the GUI of SEAMLESS-IF a user, depending on its role (Super User, Modeller, Viewer or Publisher) has the right to create, update and delete users; create a new project, add one or more publishers to an existing project, create new users, add/delete one or more viewers and modelers to an existing project; browse through existing Projects or create and manage a new Project; view results from the existing model runs, to run additional scenarios within an existing Project or to create new Scenarios within a new Project and more. As mentioned, SEAMLESS-IF is continuously in development and new functionalities can be included.

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