Getting Started

Become Familiar with XWaves


XWaves is our premier ocean surface wavefield analysis software. Directly import wave spectral data from most popular instruments, models and web archives to conduct metocean design studies, scientific investigations, and sea state analyses. Generate and export scientific and engineering design parameters, data graphics, animation files, and custom data tables.


XWaves is a set of GUI-driven ocean surface wave spectrum analysis and display tools. Particular emphasis is placed on software utility and ease of use. A frames style GUI is adopted, with convenient pull-down menus and a variety of data display and export options. A netCDF interface facilitates random database access and efficient program operation on large data sets. XWaves operates on both non-directional and directional wave spectra. Several common data formats are supported.


The overall architecture of XWaves is outlined in the Figure below. Several different modules are available for XWaves. Each module is designed for a particular function. A controller keeps track of program status and allows data to pass freely between modules.


Overview of XWaves Software Architecture Showing Available Modules



A brief description of each module follows. See Help pages for detailed information.


Start Up


Start Up is automatically run when the XWaves program is initiated from the command line. It displays a product identification screen and provides utilities for loading unprocessed or processed data for subsequent display and analysis.


Data View Module


The Data View module is an interactive data visualization tool that allows the user to explore available wave data through a variety of user-selectable plots and page layouts.


Utilities Module


The Utilities module includes a number of utilities for improving user control of inputs and results. Specific features include a data record editor, data smoother, and spectral interpolator.


Wave Systems Module


The Wave Systems module performs a wave partitioning analysis to identify the various wind sea and swell wave components in the data. Powerful cluster analysis tools track the evolution of wave systems over time. Results are presented in an interactive wave vector history visualization tool.


Spectral Fit Module


The Spectral Fit module computes 1D and 2D model fit parameters for wave system data. An interactive parameters window facilitates user control of fit criteria with instant display of results. A post-process visualization tool provides an overview of fit results.


Sea State Module


The Sea State Module is designed to provide the sea state inputs required to develop Metocean design criteria for engineering studies and to perform extremal analysis on wave height and wind speed. The user can select from a variety of output formats, including scatter tables, joint occurrence tables, recurrence interval tables, and peak events.


Swell Map Module


The Swell Map module applies a deep water wave dispersion calculation on the Wave Systems data to estimate the time and location of swell generation events. The results appear on an interactive map of swell source locations and evolution routes.


Evaluate Module


The Evaluate Module allows a robust statistical comparison to be made between two data sets. Explore the difference between two observation sets or quantify the performance of a numerical wave model against observed data.

Operating Systems (64 bit)

  • Windows 8.1
  • Windows 8
  • Windows 7 Service Pack 1
  • Windows Vista Service Pack 2
  • Windows XP Service Pack 3
  • Windows XP x64 Edition Service Pack 2
  • Windows Server 2012
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1
  • Windows Server 2008 Service Pack 2
  • Windows Server 2003 R2 Service Pack 2 Any Intel or AMD x86 processor supporting SSE2 instruction set 1.7 GB



Any Intel or AMD x86 processor supporting SSE2 instruction set


Disk Space

1.7 GB


1.5 GB (MATLAB runtime)

200 MB (WaveForce application)






No specific graphics card is required. Hardware accelerated graphics card supporting OpenGL 3.3 with 1GB GPU memory recommended





XWaves is compiled into a C executable using the MATLAB compiler. It is packaged to run on a Windows 64-bit processor. An internet connection is required to install. MATLAB is not required to operate.


For first-time operation, copy the provided files into a convenient location on your computer hard disk. If you have been provided a zip file, remove the installer program using the provided password. Double-click the installer program to unpack the program and install the required Matlab run-time compiler on your computer. The installation screen will appear:


Answer any questions that appear during the installation process. You will be asked to select an installation folder. Furthermore if the appropriate Matlab Runtime Compiler is not installed on your computer, you will be asked to select a folder for this as well. Download of the Runtime Compiler can take several minutes. Once complete, locate the xwaves.exe application in your installation folder. It may have been placed in a new folder called ‘application’.


Please refer to the Product Key Registration Guide to activate your license!


Need help?  Reach us at


The Start-Up Screen is your portal for loading wave data into XWaves and accessing program features.


The XWaves tools operate on non-directional or directional wave spectra in a variety of data formats.  Wind speed and direction data can also be read in for some data.  Special formatters are included for reading data from a variety of sources, including commercial wave sensors and selected WWW data archives.  Generic MATLAB file formats allow the user to convert wave spectrum data from any source into a useable form.  Custom data formatters are available upon request.


Data are selected for import into XWaves through the File pull-down menu.  Once a particular data set is selected, XWaves will read in the data and launch the Data View module.  The menu commands available from the Start Up screen are described below


Start-Up Screen Menu Commands

File Menu – for loading raw or processed wave spectra files

  • Load Raw Data – Select available data source to read and format unprocessed wave spectra files. Provides links to all available input file formats.  Some formats also allow reading in a separate wind file.  Once a data type is selected, an Import Parameters Table is displayed.  This is where specific attributes of the data, if not previously saved, need to be entered into the import parameters database.
  • Open XWaves File – Select and load processed data files from previous XWaves sessions.  These are MATLAB binary files with a *.mat file extension.  An automated file checker ensures that all the required data fields are in place and warns the user about any missing data fields.
  • Open NetCDF File – Select and load data files from a NetCDF data file.  This command activates the XWaves NetCDF interface.
  • Load Saved Parameters – Select and load parameter settings file into XWaves. These are MATLAB binary files with a *.mat file extension that contain the field “parameters”.  The user will be prompted to overwrite or rename any duplicate Import or Wave System parameters. 
  • Exit XWaves – Quit the XWaves program and close all windows.



Launch Evaluate Module from the Module Pull-Down Menu.  The user can select from the following options:

  • Quick Compare – Used to compare 2 XWaves data sets simultaneously.
  • Evaluate – Robust statistical comparison between 2 XWaves data sets. Opens the Evaluate Parameters Table.


All other Module options are inactive until data is loaded



  • Parameters – Must load data to view parameters
  • Color Scheme – Set background and text colors for all windows and plots



  • About XWaves – Display XWaves Copyright and License information
  • Help Contents – Display XWaves Help Page