Different people will do different things with IFs. In general those activities fall into five categories of functionality:
- Display: This mode allows the user to display results of runs of the model, normally starting with extended exploration of the base case of the model. The base case helps show the character of the world today (size of populations, economies, energy use, etc.) and to examine the patterns and trends of development as captured in the base case of the model.
Scenario analysis, or the exploration of alternative futures: IFs facilitates two alternative approaches to scenario analysis:
- Guided Scenario Analysis: this walks users through the steps to do a scenario analysis with help from the modeling system.
- Quick Scenario Analysis with Tree: the easiest way to get started with scenario analysis.
- Data Analysis: It is possible to create maps and to undertake longitudinal or cross-sectional analysis of the extensive data base within IFs to explore trends and relationships.
- Extended Features: The IFs modeling system also includes a set of extended features that most users will rarely touch. You can alter country data, change regionalization of the model, create or alter groupings of countries/regions, develop new functional forms, and even add variables to the model (although full control over the model requires access to and ability to alter the program code).
- Learning About The Model: The more one uses IFs, the more important it becomes to understand what lies "under the hood" or, as modelers often say, "inside the black box." IFs helps you do that through a variety of steps proceeding from verbal description through flow charts to equations and even computer code.
The structure of following chapters and topics in this Help system corresponds generally to these function sets.