This section contains explanations of the concepts underlying the architectural decisions and inner workings of this package.

shyft is meant to provide facilities for conducting hydrologic simulations and accessing uncertainty resulting from the forcing data and decisions regarding model structure.

Hydrological region model

The hydrological region-model consists of cells, where each cell have a “personality” that models the geo-physical properties that best fits that part of the model. Each cell must have a catchment-identifier, that allows the cells to be summed together in order to provide catchment scale computations.

At region-level, users can set the method-stack-parameter for each catchment-id. Technically, this can be done on each cell as well. Each cell can optionally be connected to a river-model, where the response from the cell to the first river can be shaped by a convolution mask (u-hydrogram). Rivers get their input from the connected cells, as well as upstream river-segments, allowing routing to take place, of the sum-flow that is shaped and delayed using a convolution mask.

The region-model object provides methods to interpolate/project external forcing data, like temperature, precipitation etc. on to the cells taking the cell-distance/height etc. into account. Furthermore, it provides means of parameter-optimization where the user provides a goal-function and ranges for selected parameters, allowing optimization routines to find the parameters minimizing the value of the goal-function. The specification of a goal function is very flexible, allowing multiple criteria and period-selective calibration strategies.


In order to perform the simulations Shyft needs to ingest data coming from observations (meteorological stations, catchment discharges…) and possible previous calibration runs prior to fill its internal data structures and proceed with a simulation run. The specification of this data ingestion process is called ‘orchestration’ in Shyft.

Although the core of the Shyft simulation code is written in C++, all the orchestration code is written in Python and uses the Python-API exposed by Shyft in order to populate the C++ data structures. In addition, the orchestration code adds another abstraction layer that allows the end user to write their own repositories classes with a minimal (or no) knowledge of Shyft core internals.

The orchestration code uses YAML configuration files in order to define a calibration or simulation run and provides basic infrastructure in order to read them, but still allowing the user to add its own code to tailor the calibration/simulation. This chapter explains how the user can customize the orchestration process so that she can better adapt it to read her own data in any format she want.


The repository and orchestration are undergoing a refactorization and some of the following may not be completely relevant or updated.


Before to start, we need to introduce the concept of repository in Shyft. A repository is just a collection of data in some arbitrary format, but in Shyft, it has the particular meaning of the Python code that can read this data and feed it to the Shyft core.

The Shyft.repository package offers interfaces (via Python ABC classes) so that the user can provide concrete implementations of his own repositories. In this approach users can provide their own repositories customized to their own configuration files (typically slight variations of the YAML config files that come with Shyft) and a diversity of data formats (maybe a whole collection of files, databases, etc.). In addition, some concrete repositories are being distributed so that they can be used right away. These concrete repositories can also be taken as an example of implementation for other user-defined repositories too.

The generic repository

One of the repositories that comes with Shyft, and is named ‘generic’ because it is very simple and not meant to read from complicated datasets. It is more meant as an example on how you can create your own repositories in case generic is not enough for your needs.

For example, in order to choose this repository you have to indicate this in you ‘configuration.yaml’ file:

  class: Shyft.repository.generic.Config
  params:         # add your own params here to initialize repository

As you can see, you can specify any class that is accessible in your Python installation by using the dotted naming convention (e.g. Shyft.orchestration2.generic.Config above).

In general, the user is advised to use the generic repository by default and configure the ingestion of data from different repositories via a explicit specification. For example, let’s suppose that you want to access the geo-located time series that Shyft needs for its simulations via NetCDF4 files, but this is not supported by the ‘generic’ repository. In this case we are going to specify another repository in the ‘datasets.yaml’ config file. Keep reading.

The ‘repository’ entries in ‘datasets.yaml’

This entry makes possible to declare repository classes for dealing with different sources and destinations for geo-located time-series. Let’s see an example extracted from the ‘datasets.yaml’ for the netcdf sub-package (included in Shyft):

  - repository: source_repo1
    class: Shyft.repository.netcdf.SourceDataset
        - type: precipitation
            - values: /station1/precipitation
              time: /station1/time
              location: /station1.x, /station1.y, /station1.z

In this case we want to specify the datasets for the geo-located time-series sources, and for one of these sources (‘source_repo1’) we have specified that we want to use an instance of the Shyft.orchestration2.netcdf.SourceDataset class. This class can be user defined, but must always inherit from Shyft.orchestration2.BaseSourceDataset. Here we have the abstract interface for it:

class BaseSourceDataset(BaseConfigFiles):
    """Interface for SourceDataset objects."""
    __metaclass__ = ABCMeta

    def fetch_sources(self, input_source_types, data, params):
        """`data` is a container for geo-located time-series that should be filled (appended)."""

so, basically you have to build a new class that provides the fetch_sources() method returning the geo-located time-series via the data dictionary of Shyft structures and based on the params parameter that is basically passing the location for the data. For an implementation example just have a look at the sources of the Shyft.orchestration2.netcdf.SourceDataset class.

The flexibility just described allows to declare different repositories for the dataset sources (hybrid sources).

Of course, the same applies to the ‘destinations’ section of the ‘dataset.yaml’ file:

  - repository:  dest_repo1
    class: Shyft.repository.netcdf.DestinationDataset
      simulated_Q: netcdf://
      simulated_SWE: netcdf://

If you are interested in having your own repositories in a more general way than just specifying sources and destinations for geo-located time series, keep reading.

The ‘repository’ entry in ‘configuration.yaml’

This entry allows the user to replace the regular classes in Shyft that parse the configuration files by others. It is important to note that this entry in ‘configuration.yaml’ is optional, so if you don’t provide a ‘repository’ the default parser classes will be used.

Here we have an example of the main bootstrap way for specifying a repository in the main ‘configuration.yaml’ file:

  class: Shyft.repository.netcdf.Config
  params:         # add your own params here to initialize repository

Please note that we have replaced the standard generic repository by another one, in this case netcdf.

Here there is a ‘repository’ section where you can specify a Python class (‘class’) and some additional ‘params’ for the class constructor (__init__() method). In this case, we see that the ‘class’ entry is specifying the full path to the desired class. The orchestration code is then responsible to import the class appropriately, and in this case it does that as:

from Shyft.repository.netcdf import Config

so that means that literally any class installed in your computer can be imported and used inside the generic orchestration infrastructure. The only limitation is that your class must inherit from BaseConfig ABC class which defines the interface to implement. Here it is an example of the implementation for the netcdf repository:

from Shyft.orchestration2.base_config import BaseConfig
from .model import Model
from .region import Region
from .datasets import Datasets

class Config(BaseConfig):
    Main class hosting a complete configuration section for an Shyft run.

    def region_config(self):
        if '_region_config' not in self.__dict__:
            self._region_config = Region(self.abspath(self.region_config_file))
        return self._region_config

    def model_config(self):
        if '_model_config' not in self.__dict__:
            self._model_config = Model(self.abspath(self.model_config_file))
        return self._model_config

    def datasets_config(self):
        if '_datasets_config' not in self.__dict__:
            self._datasets_config = Datasets(self.abspath(self.datasets_config_file))
        return self._datasets_config

    def process_params(self, params):
        # No additional params yet for the reference

So, basically, one must define some properties returning instances that deal with the different configuration files. Each of these instances must inherit from ABC classes (interfaces). For example, region_config returns a sub-instance of Shyft.orchestration2.BaseRegion, model_config returns a sub-instance of Shyft.orchestration2.BaseModel and datasets returns an instance of Shyft.orchestration2.BaseDatasets. Note that you don’t need to come up with your own tailored implementation for parsing every config files, and you may choose to stay with the generic one.

Also, one needs to define the process_params method for handling the different values in the ‘params’ section of the ‘repository’ entry. As the netcdf repo does not need any additional parameter, it is declared as empty above.

This is an easy way to produce your own repositories while you are still enforced to implement the interfaces that Shyft requires.

Advice: If you need to produce your own repository start by

cloning an existing one (e.g. netcdf) and adapting the code to your needs.


Shyft let’s you specify two different level of customization for configuring and passing time-series to Shyft:

  • Customize the read (sources) and write (destinations) of geo-located time series.

  • Customize the treatment of configuration files (more complex, but doable).

What is a repository?

A repository in Shyft context provides a minimal interface to a service, that can be used to compose and orchestrate functionality as required by the business. It typically hides a way non-essential details for the user, e.g. how information/things are stored/retrieved from backing services and storage layers.

Parameters and responses of a repository interfaces are either basic types like int,string, or domain-objects that can directly be used by the calling code.

Configuring Shyft

Shyft is configured via YAML files. Here it is an example:

  config_dir: .     # where to find other config files
  region_config: region.yaml
  model_config: model.yaml
  # model_config: calibrated_model.yaml
  datasets_config: datasets.yaml
  start_datetime: 1990-07-01T00:00:00
  run_time_step: 86400
  number_of_steps: 730
  max_cells: 4  # consider only a maximum of cells (optional, mainly for testing purposes)
      - total_discharge
      - discharge
      - snow_storage
      - temperature
      - precipitation
    format: netcdf
    nc_dir: .   # dir where the output file will be stored