Getting Started

Last Updated: July 30, 2014

This tutorial is provided to help you get started using GsshaPy. In this tutorial you will learn important GsshaPy concepts and how to:

The full tutorial script can be downloaded here:


Download the example GSSHA model files here:

Unzip the contents of the file into a safe location. This file will become the working directory for the tutorial. The write directory is purposely empty. The other files in this directory make up the input and output files for a GSSHA model of the Park City, Utah watershed.

This tutorial makes use of a PostGIS enabled PostgreSQL database. GsshaPy uses the PostGIS to store spatial features of the models and it uses several PostGIS database functions to generate the spatial visualizations. To learn how to install PostGIS, visit their website: . If you are using a Mac, an excellent option for easily testing with PostGIS is the Postgres App: .

After installing PostgreSQL with PostGIS, create a database called “gsshapy_tutorial” and enable the PostGIS extension on the database. Refer to the documentation on the PostGIS docs for how this is to be done. Managing roles and databases is made much simpler using the PGAdminIII graphical user interface for PostgreSQL. You can find PGAdminIII here: .

The tutorial also requires that you are using some version of Python 2.7. GsshaPy has not ported to Python 3 at this time.

Summary of Requirements

  • Tutorial Files:
  • GsshaPy 2.0+
  • PostgreSQL 9.3+
  • PostGIS 2.1+
  • Python 2.7.x

Key Concepts

The key abstraction of GsshaPy are the GSSHA model files. Most GSSHA model files are text files and many of them use a card system for assigning model parameters. Some of the files are GRASS ASCII maps and some of the data in other files are spatial in nature (e.g.: Link node and WMS datasets).

File Objects

Each file is represented in GsshaPy by an object. The file objects are defined by classes that inherit from the gsshapy.base.file_base.GsshaPyFileObjectBase. This class defines the read() and write() methods that are used by all file objects to read the file into an SQL database and write them back out to file.

Supporting Objects

Most file objects are supported with several supporting objects. The purpose of these objects is to provide the contents of the files at a higher level abstraction to make them easier to work with. For example, the precipitation file is decomposed into three other objects including an object representing precipitation events, another representing the rain gages, and another object representing each value in the precipitation time series. This makes modifying and working with precipitation files easier than worrying about individual lines in the text file.

Mapping Objects to Database Tables

Both the file classes and supporting object classes inherit from from the SQLAlchemy declarative_base class. The declarative_base class maps each class to a table in the database, among other things. The properties of the file and supporting classes define the columns and relationships of the corresponding tables in the database. Instances of these classes, then, represent individual records in the tables.

In most cases, a majority of the information in each file is stored in the database tables associated with the supporting classes. The file class read() and write() methods orchestrate the reading of data into the database and writing it back out by using the supporting classes.

See also

For an explanation of the SQLAlchemy ORM see . If you are not familiar with SQLAlchemy, it strongly recommended that you follow this tutorial before you continue, because GsshaPy relies heavily on SQLAlchemy ORM concepts.