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.
Class List and Objects[LINK]
The classes that can be used to make up an IDF file have been organized into groups as shown in the ‘Class List’ portion of the screen. A class is made up of a group of objects. 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 starts 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 allows 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:
Any user comments from the IDF file will be displayed in the ‘Comments from IDF’ portion of the screen
Any notes contained in the IDD for this input field will be displayed in the ‘Explanation of Keyword’ portion of the screen
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.
Numeric fields that can be autosized will include “autosize” as a selection in the drop down list.
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.
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 as described in the next section.
Edit or Select Node Names Dialog[LINK]
The following dialog box is displayed when the small button is pressed that is on the right side of cells used for node names. Double clicking on cells containing node names can also make the dialog box appear.
To enter a new node name, type it in the “Node Name” field near the top of the dialog. To select a name of a node that is already being used in the file, choose a node name from the list shown on the left of the dialog box and labeled “Other Node Names.” When a node name is selected from the list on the left side of the dialog box, the box near the bottom left shown as “Where Selected Other Node Name Appears in File” will display the name of the class, name of the object and name of the field for each other location in the file that node name is currently be used.
The Other Node Names list on the left side of the dialog box may contain a very long list of node names depending on the complexity of the HVAC system. To help with this, four options are available just above the list titled All, Recent, Containing, and Class or Field. The All option shows all node names used in the file while the other options are used to narrow the list down to only certain node names. The Recent option shows only node names that have recently been edited. The Containing option shows a list on the right side of the dialog box called “Filter by Contents” which shows all of the various words used as part of node names. These words can be selected and the Other Node Names list will only show node names that contain those words. By selecting words from this list, the list of Other Node Names can be shortened very quickly. The last option, Class or Field, shows a hierarchical list on the right side titled Filter by Object or Field containing the list of classes and fields that can have node names. By selecting an object or a field, the Other Node Names list on the right shows only node names that are present in the selected object or field. This is another way of quickly shortening the list of Other Node Names so that the appropriate node name can be selected.
Finally, the Containing Text field just above the OK button can be typed in. Whatever you type limits the Other Node Names list to just those characters. The more typed, the shorter the list becomes. This is another method of quickly finding the node name used in other parts of the file. The Containing Text field is usually used with the All option but can be used with the other display options as well.
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.)
The save options are related to the layout of the IDF file after it is saved. These options are not important if you never edit the IDF file with a text editor.
The sorted order of saving objects is the traditional way the IDF Editor sorts objects within files. Each type of object is presented in groups in the order they appear in the Energy+.IDD. The other options preserve the original order of the objects from the file but each object will be still be reformatted. By preserving the order, the objects are not rearranged so you can group them using a text editor and they will stay in that order. New objects are placed either near the top of the file or near the bottom of the file so that they can be easily found when using a text editor.
You can also choose to specially format some objects. This affects how individual fields in objects are arranged when saved. Selecting this option will format the following objects on a single line: Report, Report Meter, Report Variable, Version, Timestep in Hour, Inside Convection Algorithm, Outside Convection Algorithm, Solution Algorithm, Shadowing Calculations, Ground Reflectances, and GroundTemperatures:Deep. In addition, Schedule:Compact objects will be formatted to have two field for some lines. With this option, objects with geometric vertices are formatted to have the X, Y, and Z values on the same line. Those objects include: Surface:HeatTransfer, Surface:HeatTransfer:Sub, Surface:Shading:Detached:Fixed, Surface:Shading:Detached:Building and Surface:Shading:Attached.
These options are saved for each file. If a file has not been saved with IDF Editor yet, the default is used but if a file does not specify the default values for these can also be set by using the set as default option. The saved file keeps these options by using the !-option line with SortedOrder, OriginalOrderTop, OriginalOrderBottom, and UseSpecialFormat."
Full line comments which begin with “!” are preserved by IDF Editor and become associated with the object immediately followin the comment line(s).
Endline comments which begin with “!” are preserved by IDF Editor and are placed immediately before the object they are found in.
Endline comment which being with “!-” are automatic comments which IDF Editor will overwrite with the field name and units. User-provided text which follows “!-” will be lost. User comments should be added above the pertinent object using “!” to begin the line.
EnergyPlus input files are always in SI units. However, selecting “Inch-Pound” (IP) units in the View menu displays and edits values in IP units in the IDF editor. The IP unit will be displayed in the units column of the object grid. Some SI units convert to multiple IP units. For example, W becomes Btu/hr for heating and cooling capacity but remains as W for lighting and electrical equipment.
All conversion factors used in the IDF editor are documented in a block of comments near the top of the Energy+.IDD file.
Schedules, fluid properties and curves now support IP unit conversions. For curves, the minimum and maximum values are converted but the coefficients are not.
Remember to save any changes made before you create or edit another input file.
No “Run EnergyPlus” button is available. Save your IDF file and use EP-Launch to execute an EnergyPlus run.
You cannot edit comments in the ‘Comments from IDF’ section of the screen.
The use of point “.” or comma “,” as the decimal symbol is controlled by the windows system settings. This setting is found in the Control Panel, Regional Options, Number tab, Decimal Symbol field. IDF Editor will use the current decimal symbol to signify the start of the fractional portion of the number and will ignore other symbols. The idf file is always written using point “.” as the decimal symbol.
Please report any bugs to the helpdesk (email to firstname.lastname@example.org) so that we can fix them prior to the next release.