Flow editor

The Flow editor in Watson Studio presents a graphical view of your model while you build it by combining nodes representing objects or actions. The flow editor has three palettes to choose from: SPSS Modeler nodes, Spark ML algorithm nodes, and neural network nodes.

Note: IBM Watson Studio does not include SPSS functionality in Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela.



Creating an SPSS Modeler flow or a Spark ML flow

  1. Open a project in Watson Studio.
  2. If your data is not already part of the project, add a data set to the data assets for the project.
  3. Create a flow:

    1. From the toolbar for the project, click Shows the Create new icon Add to project, and then click Modeler flow.
    2. Type a name and description for your flow.
    3. Select Modeler Flow as the flow type.
    4. Select a runtime environment, such as IBM SPSS Modeler or Scala Spark.
    5. If you already use SPSS Modeler, you can import an SPSS Modeler Stream file (.str) by clicking the From File tab and then clicking the Choose File button.
    6. Click Create.
  4. Add data to your flow by using the Find and Add Data panel Shows the Find and Add Data icon.

    On the Files tab, select the file you want to add, and drag it onto the Flow editor. If you don't see your data listed here, you must go to the Project Assets tab and add it there. Or, for a really large file, go to the IBM Cloud {{site.data.keyword.COS}} dashboard and add it there.

    Shows a data file to drag

  5. To open and close the palette, from the Flow editor toolbar, click the Open Palette Shows the Find and Add Data icon icon or Close Palette Shows the Find and Add Data icon icon.

  6. From the palette, select an operator, graph, modeling, export, or outputs node and drag it to the Flow editor.
  7. Draw a connector from the data set to the node and then double-click the node to specify its properties.

    Shows two nodes with a connector

  8. Continue to add operators or other nodes as needed to build your flow.


  • You can group related nodes together into a supernode, which is represented by a star icon. This is currently available for SPSS Modeler flows. Right-click the selected nodes, and then click Create supernode. Shows a star icon in the Flow editor

    You create a saved version of the grouping for future use.

    Shows a star icon in the Flow editor

  • You can run any node within the flow without running the entire model. Right-click the node and select Run. The behavior when you click Run on an intermediate node is that it runs all nodes subsequent to that node in the same same branch. It still does a full execution, but only on the branch or branches after the node where Run was clicked. Any forked branches before that node are ignored.

  • To view the results of an output node, run the node, such as a table node, and then click the View outputs and versions Shows the View outputs and versions icon icon. In the side palette, on the Outputs tab, double-click the object, such as a table, to open it.
  • To save a version of a flow, click the View outputs and versions Shows the View outputs and versions icon icon. In the side palette, on the Versions tab, save the version.


Creating a neural network

In the Flow editor you can build convolutional neural networks (CNN) and recurrent neural networks (RNN) with 31 types of layers. Any architecture that can be designed using a combination of these 31 layers can be designed by using the Flow editor.


Setting preferences

You can set preferences, such as number, date, and time formats for your Flow editor environment.

  1. Right-click the Flow editor. The Flow editor Properties window appears.
  2. To change the date and time format, click the Options tab, and then click Date/Time. In the Date baseline (1st Jan) box, type a base year for when four-digit years begin. In the 2-digit dates start from field, type the date from which two-digit years should be presumed.
  3. To change the number format for decimals, click Number Formats.
    1. To set the default decimal places for a numeric value, in the Standard decimals places box, type an integer.
    2. To set the default for decimal places for data fields, in the Scientific decimal places type an integer.
    3. To set the default for currency values, in the Currency decimal places, type an integer.
  4. Click OK.


Tool shortcuts

  • On touch-enabled devices scroll the Flow editor by using the touch pad or touch screen.

    Shows the move gesture

  • In addition to the zoom controls for zooming out zoom out icon and zooming in zoom in icon, on touch-enabled devices you can use the pinch zoom gesture to resize the flow. If you have a pointing device or mouse with a scroll wheel, you can use the scroll wheel to resize the canvas.

    Shows the pinch gesture

  • To fit the flow to the Flow editor area, click the Zoom to Fit zoom to fit icon icon.
  • To select multiple nodes, there are the following options:

    • To select contiguous nodes, shift-click the node at one end of the branch and then shift-click the node at the other end. You can also shift-click and drag to lasso the nodes in the visible portion of the Flow editor.

      shift-click to select nodes

    • To select non-contiguous nodes in a flow, you can use ⌘-click or Ctrl-click. command-click to select nodes
  • To show the node palette, double-click the Flow editor.
  • To select all the nodes in a flow, type ⌘-A or Ctrl-A.


Adding comments and annotations

You can create comments and annotations by using the Flow editor. Comments are notes that appear next to a node on the Flow editor itself. Annotations appear in some node dialog boxes.

Use these comments to keep track of the settings inside a node or to explain how your flow works. They are available to anyone that has access to this flow.

Type a comment

Comments appear on the Flow editor in a highlighted text box.

  1. To create a comment, right-click the Flow editor and then click New comment.
  2. Double-click the comment box and type your comment.

    Shows a flow with comments

  3. To connect your comment to a specific node, click the comment handle and drag it to one of the node handles.
  4. To delete your comment, right-click the comment and click Delete.

Type an annotation

An annotation appears in the node dialog box itself.

  1. To create annotation, double-click a node and then click the Annotations tab.
  2. [Optional] To give the annotation a name, select the Custom name check box and type a name. This name replaces the name of the node and appears in the flow on the Flow editor.
  3. In the Annotation box, type your comment or description.
  4. Click OK.