IDF Editor – Brief Introduction[LINK]
EnergyPlus has several options for the user to create input files. For the purposes of this document, we will describe briefly the workings of the IDF Editor that is supplied with the EnergyPlus Installation. The IDF Editor is a simple, “intelligent” editor that reads the EnergyPlus Data Dictionary (IDD) and allows creation/revision of EnergyPlus Input Files (IDF). It can be run from a shortcut in the main EnergyPlus directory (created as part of the install) or directly from EP-Launch.
Full details of the IDF Editor can be found in the Auxiliary Programs document. IDD Conventions (to be able to read the IDD) are found in the Input Output Reference document. EnergyPlus standard units are described in several places, including later in this document.
IDF Editor is an optional component of the EnergyPlus installation. For users who want a simple way of creating or editing EnergyPlus input data files (IDF), IDF Editor provides this service. The IDF Editor does not check inputs for validity, although some numeric fields are highlighted if out of range and some text fields are highlighted if they contain an invalid reference. For instructions and rules that must be followed when creating an IDF file the user should refer to the Input/Output Reference document.
Start IDF Editor[LINK]
IDF Editor should be located in the EnergyPlus\PreProcessor\IDFEditor directory where you installed EnergyPlus. By double clicking on the IDF Editor icon you will get a screen similar to the one shown above. IDF Editor works in conjunction with the current EnergyPlus Input Data Directory (IDD) file that resides in the directory where EnergyPlus is installed. Another way to start the IDF Editor is from EP-Launch. Multiple IDF files can be opened at once.
Creating or Selecting an Input Data File[LINK]
Creating a new input data file or selecting an existing input data file can be accomplished either through use of the File menu on the menu bar at the top of the screen or through use of the New File icon button or Open File icon button on the tool bar.
The class list shows how the items for the IDF are grouped. This class list follows the Data Dictionary (IDD) description. Select a class from the list by clicking on and highlighting the class. The field to the left of the selected class in the ‘Class List’ will either contain [——] to indicate that this class has no objects in the IDF file or it will contain a number like  to indicate the number of times the object currently appears in the IDF file. For example, for the BuildingSurface:Detailed class selected in the screen above under the Thermal Zone Description/Geometry group, there are 40 objects in the IDF file. The details for these 40 objects or any new object that is defined are displayed in columns within the grid. Each object is made up of fields and can be used to further define the object. Any units attached to each field are shown in the second column. You may need to scroll down the ‘field’ list or maximize the application to see all of the fields. Likewise, you may need to scroll to the right of the main grid to see other objects.
Options under the view menu can change how you use the Class List. To display only classes that contain objects select the “show classes with objects only” option on the “View” menu. You can also toggle this feature on and off with CTRL+L. If the file is empty and has no objects, this toggle does not impact the display.
The “Show Quick Select Dropdowns” view menu option adds two new input fields to the main screen. The input fields can be used to go quickly to different classes in the main list of classes. By typing in the top input field, the group that start with those letters are displayed. After selecting one and pressing the tab button, classes in that group are shown and by typing the first few letters, you can easily select a specific class. Pressing tab again displays that class and it objects. This method allow for quick selection of classes if you remember the group name and class name.
By clicking and highlighting a value within an object, several things happen:
1) Any user comments from the IDF file will be displayed in the ‘Comments from IDF’ portion of the screen
2) Any notes contained in the IDD for this input field will be displayed in the ‘Explanation of Keyword’ portion of the screen
3) The value can be edited. Depending on the field, a drop down list may display the default value, maximum and minimum, or other keywords that can be used with the field.
4) Numeric fields that can be autosized will include “autosize” as a selection in the drop down list.
5) Some numeric fields have a maximum and/or minimum value specified in the IDD. If the value entered is outside this range, the cell will be highlighted in pale orange.
6) For values that are names of nodes, a new dialog box titled “Edit or Select Node Name” can be shown when the small button is pressed that is on the right side in each node name cell.
Working with Objects[LINK]
To delete an object, first click on any value for the object and then click on the “Del Obj” button. To add a new object, click on the “New Obj” button and a new object column with fields set to blanks, zeros, or default values will be added to the far right of the grid. The “Dup Obj” button is similar to “New Obj”, but copies the values of the fields of the currently selected object. Copying and pasting an object or groups of objects is also possible using the “Copy Obj” and “Paste Obj” buttons. These allow objects to be copied between files are also good for copying from files in the DataSets subdirectory. (Also see the Edit menu to perform these functions.)