Layers panel
  • 21 Sep 2022
  • 25 Minutes to read
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Layers panel

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The Layers panel is located by default in the lower left corner of the Flood Modeller interface, and shows all the currently loaded layers (datasets) in your project.

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Each entry in the Layers panel has a checkbox (to enable/disable layer visibility), an icon (to show the layer type) and a title. The active layer is highlighted in blue.

Right-click functionality and layer properties vary for each layer type loaded into the Layers panel.

Main-level buttons

Add GIS Data

If you would like to add GIS data to your map, you can use this button as an alternative to the general ‘Add GIS Data’ button. This will open a new window that will prompt you to browse to, and select, the file (or files) that you wish to add. Note the drop-down menu on the right of this window which lists all supported file types that can be selected. Once you have selected your file (or files), click ‘Open’ and the new layer (layers) will be added to the map view as well as be listed in the Layers panel.

Add New Group

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The ‘Add new group’ button allows you to create a group where layers (datasets) can be dragged to in order to organize and improve the management of your GIS layers. When you right click on the group name, you will be presented with three options: Zoom to Group (zooms to the group layers in the map view), Rename Group (allows you to rename the group as it appears in the Layers panel),and Unload Group (note this will unload all files inside the group).

Hide all/show all Layers

If you want to hide or show all the layers displayed in the Layers panel, you can use the checkboxes on the far left in the top of the panel, which will enable or disable the visibility of all layers.

Move to bottom/top

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If you want to reorganize your datasets in order to improve visibility or presentation, you can use the buttons shown above. The movement up or down will be applied to the selected dataset only (highlighted in blue). The GIS layers can also be organized by clicking and dragging them to the preferred location.


Right-click functionality from a raster layer

  • Unload layer - This option removes the highlighted layer from both the map view and the Layers panel.
  • Zoom to Layer - This option sets the zoom extents of the map view to those of the currently highlighted layer in the Layers panel.
  • Move to Top - This option moves the currently highlighted layer to a higher position in the Layers panel. By doing this, you can make the current layer more visible in the Viewport (the layer will be shown in front of other layers located below it in the Layers panel).
  • Move to Bottom - This option moves the currently highlighted layer to a lower position in the Layers panel. By doing this, you can make the current layer less visible in the Viewport (the layer will be shown behind other layers located above it in the Layers panel).
  • Export To GeoImage - This option allows you to create a geo-referenced image file with the information shown on the raster file in the Viewport.
  • Colour Ramps - A number of colour schemes have been predefined and built into Flood Modeller. These are listed in this menu and clicking on one will apply it to the layer currently highlighted in the Layers panel.
  • Show Colour Ramp - Displays your layer colour ramp in the corner of the map view. Selecting this option a second time will hide the colour ramp again.
  • Properties - This option opens the properties window displaying the properties of the currently highlighted layer in the Layers panel. The properties window is described in more detail in the Layer Properties section.

Right-click functionality from a TIN vector layer

  • Unload layer - This option removes the highlighted layer in the Layers panel from both the map view and the Layers panel.
  • Zoom to Layer - This option sets the zoom extents of the map view to those of the currently highlighted layer in the Layers panel.
  • Move to Top - This option moves the currently highlighted layer to a higher position in the Layers panel. By doing this, you can make the current layer more visible in the Viewport (the layer will be shown in front of other layers located below it in the Layers panel).
  • Move to Bottom - This option moves the currently highlighted layer to a lower position in the Layers panel. By doing this, you can make the current layer less visible in the Viewport (the layer will be shown behind the other layers located above it in the Layers panel).
  • Animate - This options activates animation toolbar, which will be displayed above the map view. Note that this can only be utilised if model results data have been associated with the selected TIN.
  • Load Results - This option will prompt you to select a results file (extension '.zzn') or TabularCSV output file ('.csv'). The difference between these two options is described below:
    1. Binary results - A new window is displayed from which you select to load either a series of time steps or just the maximum and minimum values at each node. Multiple time steps can be loaded, although only one time step will be displayed at any one time. It is not possible to add binary data to a TIN that already has results from a TabularCSV file loaded.
    2. TabularCSV results - TabularCSV is a tool used to extract selected time steps from binary results or just the maximum and minimum values at each node. When added to a TIN these data will be interpolated across the surface to create a flood map. In Flood Modeller you will be asked to browse to the csv file that you wish to load. If the csv file contains multiple time steps then all will be loaded, but only one time step will be displayed at any one time. It is not possible to add TabularCSV data to a TIN that already has results from a binary file loaded.
  • Unload Result - This option removes all loaded time series data associated to the selected TIN.
  • Result Sets - This option displays a window containing the list of 1D results associated to the selected TIN layer in the Layers panel. Below the list of datasets, a text box shows which of these is currently displayed. The window enables you to change the display by selecting the required dataset from the list and then clicking the 'Set Active' button. Other functions provided in this window are:
    • Load - Load new TabularCSV results data
    • UnloadA - unloads all results data
    • UnloadS - unloads selected result from list
    • CSV Files - shows list of loaded TabularCSV files
    • Set Active - sets the selected result as the displayed result in the viewport
    • Close - closes results window
  • Start/Stop Edit – This option puts the selected TIN file into editing mode, or exits from editing mode if the file os currently being edited.
  • Export as Points - This option exports the points of the TIN as a points shapefile.
  • Export as Polygons - This option exports the polygons of the TIN as a polygon shapefile.
  • Show Attributes - This option shows the displayed time step associated to the selected TIN in tabular format. An example is shown in the figure below. It should be noted that some nodes will appear multiple times in this table since multiple points within the TIN may have been assigned the same node name, e.g. multiple points in a river cross section or multiple points marking the boundary of a reservoir. To view just one instance of each node label, click on the 'Show Result Set Data Only' checkbox.
  • Show Colour Ramp - Displays your layer colour ramp in the corner of the map view. Selecting this option a second time will hide the colour ramp again.
  • Properties - This option opens the properties window displaying the properties of the currently highlighted layer in the Layers panel. The properties window is described in more detail in the Layer Properties section.

Right-click functionality from a shapefile vector layer

The options available by right clicking on an ESRI shapefile type (.shp) vector dataset in the Layer window are described below. The available options are common to all types of shapefile (points, polylines or polygons).

  • Unload layer - This option removes the highlighted layer in the Layers panel from both the map view and the Layers panel.
  • Zoom to Layer - This option sets the zoom extents of the map view to those of the currently highlighted layer in the Layers panel.
  • Move to Top - This option moves the currently highlighted layer to a higher position in the Layers panel. By doing this, you can make the current layer more visible in the Viewport (the layer is will be shown in front of the other layers located below it in the Layers panel).
  • Move to Bottom - This option moves the currently highlighted layer to a lower position in the Layers panel. By doing this, you can make the current layer less visible in the Viewport (the layer will be shown behind other layers located above it in the Layers panel).
  • Start/Stop Edit – This option puts the selected file into editing mode, or exits from editing mode if the file is currently being edited
  • Export -This provides three options for exporting shapefile data:
    1. Export to TIN with TIN creator - This loads the selected shapefile into the TIN Creator tool
    2. Export to Google Earth (*.kml) file - This converts the shapefile to a kml file and provides the option to upload it into Google Earth software after conversion is completed. Your selected attributes data can also be assigned to a kml file to provide a colour scale, e.g. water depth data.
    3. Export to Mapinfo (*.mif) file - This converts the shapefile to a mif/mid file (as required by TUFLOW). All attributes data are also retained.
  • Show Attributes - This option displays the shapefile attribute data (dbf file) in a new window. It will also inform you what type of shape each feature within the shapefile is, e.g. polyline or polylineZ. The data displayed in this window are not editable. Controls provided in the window enable you to zoom to a selected feature on the map or highlight selected features (in the table) on the map. For each feature listed, the details of the points within that feature can also be accessed (displayed in a separate window by double clicking). A search tool is provided in the attributes window to help locate a particular feature.
  • Show Colour Ramp - Displays your layer colour ramp in the corner of the map view. Selecting this option a second time will hide the colour ramp again.
  • Properties - This option opens the properties window, showing the properties of the currently highlighted layer in the Layers panel. The properties window is described in more detail in the Layer Properties section.

The Export to Google Earth function (as described above) converts the selected shapefile into a format that can be displayed in Google Earth (.kml). When using this function you are presented with options to define a new kml file . These options are:

  • Line width, opacity and colour - The kml conversion tool will only retain the outline of each shapefile feature. You can specify the format of this outline using these options (or just leave on default settings).
  • Polygon size limit - You can choose to disregard shapefile features smaller than a specified surface area (in square metres) in your kml file.
  • Altitude - You can set the height at which your kml file will be displayed. The default option is to follow the ground surface ('Clamp to Ground'). Alternatively set a height relative to the ground or an absolute height at which the kml will be displayed. This may be useful when multiple kml files are to be displayed together, overlaying each other.
  • Projection Name / Earth Elipsoid - Settings here define the system used to convert the easting and northing coordinates used in Flood Modeller to latitude and longitude as used in Google Earth. The default setting is for the UK.

After selecting the required options you can choose to automatically open the new kml file that Flood Modeller creates in Google Earth (if it is available on your system).


Right-click functionality from an image layer

  • Unload layer - This option removes the highlighted layer from both the map view and the Layers panel.
  • Zoom to Layer - This option sets the zoom extents of the map view to those of the currently highlighted layer in the Layers panel.
  • Move to Top - This option moves the currently highlighted layer to a higher position in the Layers panel. By doing this, you can make the current layer more visible in the Viewport (the layer will be shown in front of other layers located below it in the Layers panel).
  • Move to Bottom - This option moves the currently highlighted layer to a lower position in the Layers panel. By doing this, you can make the current layer less visible in the Viewport (the layer will be shown behind other layers located above it in the Layers panel).
  • Properties - This option opens the properties window displaying the properties of the currently highlighted layer in the Layers panel.

Right-click functionality from a model file layer

  • Unload layer - This option removes the highlighted layer from both the map view and the Layers panel.
  • Zoom to Layer - This option sets the zoom extents of the map view to those of the currently highlighted layer in the Layers panel.
  • Move to Top - This option moves the currently highlighted layer to a higher position in the Layers panel. By doing this, you can make the current layer more visible in the Viewport (the layer will be shown in front of other layers located below it in the Layers panel).
  • Move to Bottom - This option moves the currently highlighted layer to a lower position in the Layers panel. By doing this, you can make the current layer less visible in the Viewport (the layer will be shown behind the other layers located above it in the Layers panel).
  • Start/Stop Edit – This option puts the selected file into editing mode, or exits from editing mode if the file is currently being edited. If the model file is in editing mode, then all controls from the Shapefile Editing Toolbar will be visible and available.
  • Associate Centreline - This option assigns a previously created shapefile which contains a river centre line in order to make it easier to create new cross sections, for example.
  • Deactivate Floodplain - This option allows you to assign a deactivation marker on certain cross sections (specified by a polygon shapefile).
  • Reassign Pivot Points - This option opens a 'Set Up Pivot Points' window which allows you to reset the pivot points for the cross sections. A pivot point is a point on a cross section that tells Flood Modeller which point can be considered a "centre" of the cross section. The pivot point can be either the middle point of the sections, the point of lowest elevation, or the point with 0m value on the X axis of the cross section.
  • Export -This option provides four options for exporting shapefile data, which are described below:
    1. Export As Shapefile - This option converts the geographical information related to the cross section data into a Vector file format (shapefile). All points from the cross sections are converted to a shapefile format.
    2. Export As Simplified Shapefile - This option converts the important geographical information related to the cross section data into a Vector file format (shapefile). In this case a simplified version of the file is created (i.e. only bend points of the cross section are used for the triangulation, simplifying and accelerating the process).
    3. Export River Centreline - This function allows the user to export the river centre lines loaded into the viewport. A shapefile is created, which contains the river centre lines for each reach as features.
    4. Export Interpolates to Shapefile - This function allows you to create a shapefile containing the Interpolate Units from the model (each Interpolate unit is represented by a polyline which consists of three points). In order for the function to work, the model has to be geo-referenced. In addition, the length of the Interpolated sections is aligned with the lengths of the nearest non-Interpolated river sections. It has to be noted that a river centre line has to be created showing where the river is. This will help this function determine the correct locations of the Interpolate Units. Should you wish to triangulate through the river sections and Interpolate units, you can load two shapefiles (one containing the river sections and the other containing the Interpolate sections) into the TIN Creator and then triangulate through these files. Alternatively each shapefile can be triangulated separately and the resulting TINs merged using Merge TINs function from the Modelling Toolbox (Window > Modelling Toolbox > 1D Flood Map > Merge TINs).
  • Show Attributes - This option displays the file attribute data in a new window. The data displayed in this window are not editable. The controls provided in the new window enable you to zoom to a selected feature on the map or highlight selected features (in the table) on the map. For each feature listed, the details of the points within that feature can also be accessed (displayed in a separate window). A search tool is provided in the attributes window to help locate a particular feature.
  • Properties - This option opens the properties window displaying the properties of the currently highlighted layer in the Layers panel. The property window includes an option to assign a colour legend to a shapefile, with the feature colours defined by a selected shapefile attribute field

Right-click functionality from a 2D results layer

The options available by right clicking on a 2D model results file loaded into the Layers panel are described below.The menu is available for all parameter results files loaded (.dat file extension), but there is no menu available for the metadata file (.2dm or .sup or xmdf.sup).

2D model results data files are displayed in the Layers panel in a tree view format, with the individual parameter files shown as branches from the metadata file. The different menus for the different file types are accessed by right-clicking on the appropriate file in the tree structure.

  • Unload layer – This option removes the highlighted layer from both the map view and the Layers panel.
  • Zoom to Layer – This option sets the zoom extents of the map view to those of the currently highlighted layer in the Layers panel.
  • Move to Top – This option moves the currently highlighted layer to a higher position in the Layers panel. By doing this, you can make the current layer more visible in the Viewport (the layer will be shown in front of other layers located below it in the Layers panel).
  • Move to Bottom – This option moves the currently highlighted layer to a lower position in the Layers panel. By doing this, you can make the current layer less visible in the Viewport (the layer will be shown behind other layers located above it in the Layers panel).
  • Animate – This option opens the animation toolbar, which is displayed above the map view.
  • Export to Google Earth (*.kml) file – This option converts the water level and/or depth results file to a kmz file and provides the option to upload it into Google Earth software after the conversion is completed. Selected attributes data can also be assigned to the .kmz file to provide a colour scale, e.g. water depth data.
  • Show Colour Ramp - Displays your layer colour ramp in the corner of the map view. Selecting this option a second time will hide the colour ramp again.
  • Properties – This option opens the properties window displaying the properties of the currently highlighted layer in the Layers panel. The properties window is described in more detail in the Layer Properties section.

Layer properties (general)

The layer Properties window can be accessed as follows:

  1. Right click on a layer in the Layer panel and select Properties menu.
  2. Double click on the layer in the Layers panel.

The properties window will then be displayed, as shown in the figure below:

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Example of layer properties window

The properties window consists of four tabs:

  • General - This tab contains settings relating to how the entire layer is viewed within the viewport and Layers panel, e.g. layer name and visibility at different zoom settings.
  • Symbology - This tab defines how individual features are viewed, e.g. colour ramp definition, line and file colours, and feature selection colour.
  • Labels - This tab allows you to specify the formatting of labels that appear in the viewport associated with the selected layer.
  • Metadata - This tab displays a table which summarises the basic layer properties, e.g. the x, y and z ranges within the selected layer.

The properties displayed will differ with different layer types, i.e. shapefiles, grids, etc. However, the General and Metadata tabs are the same for all. The following section describes the available editable properties for different file types, focusing only on the tabs that are different between file types (Symbology and Labels). Note that the Grid Layers section describes all 4 tabs settings. The layer-specific sub-sections detail just the options that are unique to each type.

Typically, the most common editable properties will be those in the Symbology and Labels tabs, as mentioned above. These enable the following type of changes to be made:

  • Changing the displayed colours
  • Specifying a colour ramp
  • Changing the format of displayed text
  • Setting a transparency level for a layer
  • Setting line thickness and type
  • Setting point size and shape
  • Setting fill colour styles (from default of solid colour, e.g. stripes)
  • Vector arrow size, colour and type (for 2D results data only)
  • Show mesh (for TIN files and 2D results data)

Shapefile layer properties

The shapefile properties enable you to adjust the visual style of any point, polyline or polygon shapefile, e.g. size, thickness, fill colour etc. You can also add a colour ramp and labels to specific attributes.
When you access the properties window, the following tabs/options are available which are unique to shapefile layers:

Setting of point, line and shape styles - You can specify both colour and style from within the Symbology > Visual Style tab. The settings displayed here will vary depending on shapefile type, i.e. point settings only for point shapefiles; point and line settings for polyline shapefiles; and point, line and shape settings for polygon shapefiles.

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Colour ramp definition - Although other file types can have colour ramps defined, for shapefiles, the following additional options are available:

Set attribute field - numeric values will be taken from the field specified (from a dropdown list of all available attribute fields).

Set classification type - There is an option to use 'jenks' (natural breaks) instead of fixed step sizes. This divides the colour steps by the number of 'instances' present in each step, i.e. larger steps at outliers and smaller steps where the values are most concentrated. It is also possible to simply set a different colour for every value in the attribute field. This option enables colour ramps to be assigned to non-numeric fields, e.g. county names in England.

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Set the changed polygon fill colour to signify a shape is selected (in edit mode or when reviewing the shapefile attributes table).

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Specify labelling format - Set the font type and positioning of labels (relative to shapefile). The “display attribute” tick box should be ticked to display the label for the highlighted layer.

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General label settings - Similar to general layer settings. These relate to how the labels will be controlled within the viewport. Note this tab is the same for all layer types (not just shapefiles).


Grid layer properties

When the active layer in the Layers panel is a grid file (raster or 2D model results) the values of the grid are displayed in the information tab at the bottom of the map window, as shown below:

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In addition to the above labelling option, the layer properties (accessed by double-clicking the grid layer in the Layers panel) provides the following options specific to this file type:

Define how mesh (of grid cells) is displayed - this option allows you to turn mesh on or off and set mesh transparency; the settings can be accessed in Symbology > Visual style.

Set colour ramp - Grids are loaded using the default colour schemes, however the colour scheme for a grid can be changed using the Colour Legend Editor. This is a powerful tool to improve the viewing of results and the quality of 3D animations and stills. Colour Legend Editor can be opened by right-clicking on a layer in the Table of Contents and selecting Properties and then Symbology Tab and then Colour Ramp button on the left side of the window. The figure below shows the Layer Colour Legend Editor.

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The Colour Ramp section provides the following options for raster grids:

Value Range - This option allows you to define the range of elevations over which the colour ramp is applied. A predefined range can be used.

Colour Sets - This option allows you to specify the number of colour steps for the colour ramp, or the interval between each colour step.

No Data Value - This option allows you to specify the colour given to pixels with no data.

Colour Range Selector - The colour(s) used in the colour ramp can be entered manually or specified using the Colour Gradient feature. Three tabs in this panel offer three methods of defining your colour range. These are:

2 Colours - Specify colours for the minimum and maximum values in the data range and Flood Modeller will evaluate all intermediate colours

Light to Dark - Specify a single colour and fade from this colour to black or to white, or from white to selected colour and on to black (i.e. brightness is being varied across range)

Spectrum - select the start and end point within a spectrum

Colour Schema - This option shows the colour ramp that will be applied to the data. Individual entries here can be edited separately, either by changing a colour or a value range. This table also allows the text displayed against each range to be edited from the default, which is the numeric value range.

Colour Ramp menu – There are two buttons available at the upper left corner of the Colour Ramp window. These are:

Save Categories to File – this option saves the currently defined colour ramp as a standalone (text format) file with the extension '.csh'.

Load Categories from File – this option loads a colour ramp from an existing 'csh' file.

Compute Hillshading - this is a tick box option with a default setting to calculate the hillshading for a new colour ramp (as this improves the definition of the grid display although it will take slightly longer to load). Default values for hillshading can be modified in the General settings Options by pressing F2.

Once a colour ramp has been defined, it can be generated using the "Generate" button and applied by clicking the 'Apply' button.

Hillshading menu - The values specified in this section will affect the degree of hill shading computed when a new colour ramp is defined. Note that the changes here will not be immediately applied to the current display, you will need to re-calculate your colour ramp to implement the changes.

Label features and define label formats – The Labels tab includes a tick box to “Display Attribute”; this allows you to display the labels for the currently highlighted layer. It also contains options for label formatting.

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General label settings - This option is similar to general layer settings, and relates to how the labels will be controlled within the viewport. Note this tab is the same for all layer formats (not just grids).


Image layer properties

The image properties (accessed by double-clicking an image layer in the Layers panel) provides the following layer-specific options (for general options that are available to all file types, please refer to the Grid layer properties section):

Symbology tab > Visual Style : here you have the option to change the level of transparency imposed on a layer, select a colour to use when transparency is enabled and specify whether the transparent colour will be shown or not. By default, the transparent colour on the image will not be shown in the Viewport

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Labels tab > Single Style: here you have the option to switch on Shadow Style and define your text shadow settings (colour and shadow offset/width).

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TIN vector layer properties

The TIN vector properties (accessed by double-clicking a TIN layer in the Layers panel) provides the following layer-specific options (for general options that are available to all file types, please refer to the Grid layer properties section):

Symbology > Visual Style – these settings allow you to specify the colour and style of lines and points that will define the TIN mesh

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Model files layer properties

The model file properties (accessed by double-clicking a model file layer in the Layers panel) provides the following layer-specific options:

Symbology > Visual Style - A custom version of this tab is displayed for model files. This provides line and point formats for cross sections and enables a different colour to be defined for non-georeferenced sections.

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2D results layer properties

There are two types of layers in 2D Model Results files: scalar and vector, depending on the type of 2D Model result they show. Water level, depth, bed elevation and hazard rating outputs are all scalar data, whilst velocity and flow outputs are vector data. These two layer types are displayed differently in Flood Modeller; scalar values determine a grid cell colour (similar to other raster grids) and vector values define a colour and length of vector arrow (one per grid cell).

The 2D model file layer properties window (accessed by double-clicking a model file layer in the Layers panel) provides the following layer-specific options: Symbology > Visual Style – The options available here allow you to specify a vector style, length and arrow size.

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Vector data are represented by a series of arrows showing direction and magnitude. Normally the vector values in the results file are too small to be displayed in the viewport, so, by default Flood Modeller does not show them using the actual vector length specified in the results file, but rather using a uniform length which is often better for visualisation purposes. Options for editing vector-specific data are described below:

  • Symbology > Visual Style: These settings allow you to change how vector data appears in your viewport. For instance, you can chose to override the default of having uniform vector length, to display the Real Vector Length (by ticking this box in the ‘Vector Length’ section) or limit the range of vector lengths that are shown by specifying a relative width and length. You can also specify here the number of arrows that you would like shown, which may be helpful when there are too many arrows obstructing the Viewport.
  • Symbology > Colour Ramp: The settings here allow you to set up a colour scheme for visualising vectors in your results file. Different colours will be used for different vectors depending on the results that they represent. Note that for scalar data (e.g. water level data), the settings in the Colour Ramp are the same as for standard raster grids.

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