WP600 : Tools - review
Although some of the specialised
toolkits needing to be assimilated into the Virtual Observatory are
well-defined (see Section 6.3) this is not the case for all of the
sub-disciplines within the UKSSVO (solar, planetary and STP), or for
the generic tools. The work package would deliver a comprehensive
list of required tools. For each tool, a detailed specification of
the required functionality would be produced together with a
specification of the data sets and/or models to which the tool should
interface and the required level of user interaction. In many of
these cases, for which a tool already exists, the nature and extent
of any upgrade needed to provide the required general functionality
should be quantified. Close co-ordination with the Astrogrid and
EGSO activities are required, because some of the required generic
tools, such as search engines, will already have been developed as
part of these projects.
- Lists of current software tools used by solar system science community.
- Detailed description of tool usage and applicability.
- Wish-list of software tool functionality not currently available.
- Comprehensive list of existing tools to be incorporated into the UKSSVO, with appropriate metadata describing their use and applicability.
- Evaluation of the work needed to adapt existing tools to read UKSSVO data objects.
- List of new tools needing to be evolved with functionality and interface requirements (sufficient to allow for generation of metadata as above).
- Undertake consultative exercise within user community.
- Collect together software tools and existing documentation.
- Collate the above into an agreed codebase.
- Review tools codebase against agreed standards.
- For each tool, produce a specification of the work needed to make it UKSSVO compliant.
WP610 : Downloadable tools
The first stage of tool development within the UKSSVO will be the production of downloadable tools from the list identified in WP600.
Such tools would be designed so that users could download them to their own machines where they could be used to read and interact with downloaded data objects (e.g. in the form of XML files).
This work package wll take the existing tools and add to them the ability to work with UKSSVO data objects. Tools would need the ability to interpret data objects, and to produce output either in data object form or as plots or graphics objects in a form compliant with the virtual observatory infrastructure. Fundamental to this activity will be the development of the Starlink Treeview tool to work with UKSSVO data objects and interface to major existing tool suites such as SolarSoft and QSAS.
The first task will therefore be the development of the necessary functionality in Treeview, enabling it to acts as an explorer for SSVO data objects, and to hand them on to other major existing toolkits such as SolarSoft and QSAS. In parallel with this, these toolkits will be extended to allow them to interact with and produce UKSSVO-compliant data and graphics objects. Each tool will have to have attached metadata describing its use and any constraints, according to the standards evolved in WP210.
The next stage would be to evolve new functionality (i.e. tools required by the community but which do not currently exist), using the interfaces and standards developed above.
- Metadata and data formats from WP210 and WP220.
- Tools codebase from WP600, including Treeview, QSAS, SolarSoft etc. (Open source code with no proprietary elements).
- Treeview extended to handle generic SSVO data object and basic underlying solar system data types.
- Robust QSAS for local installation with data interfaces to match UKSSVO delivered data.
- Similar downloadable, VO-compliant versions of other existing tools (e.g. SolarSoft)
- Appropriate metadata for all supported toolkits.
- New toolkits with user-requested functionality, using the standards and interfaces defined above.
- Extend QSAS data interface module. Construct intelligent installation wizard to eas download/installation on target platforms (currently Sun/Solaris and Linux; MacOsX under investigation; Windows unlikely without Unix/Xwindows modules - e.g. cygwin).
- Interface to WP210 and WP220 to evolve data standards and metadata paradigm.
- In later years add more functionality to handle other datasets (e.g., elements of radar data, ...) and extend analysis capability (QSAS has a programmable plugin interface used widely by external users to tailor analysis and display tools within the QSAS environment and take advantage of QSAS object-oriented methods and display).
WP620 : Grid-enabling tools
In the second stage of tool development, the downloadable tools produced in WP610 would be upgraded by the addition of a grid-enabled data portal interface, enabling them to extract data directly from the UKSSVO. This will enable the tools automatically to retrieve the data they need, without the user being directly involved in the data downloading process. As above, the most immediate requirement would be to implement portal access for existing toolkits such as QSAS and SolarSoft, but once the principles had been developed it should be relatively simple to grid-enable a range of other tools within the UKSSVO. Some toolkits, such as QSAS, already have architectures which would make the addition of such interfaces straightforward.
- Specification of the grid portal and interface issues to be offered by UKSSVO.
- Downloadable toolkits from WP610, such as QSAS and SolarSoft.
- Grid-enabled versions of QSAS and other tools, running locally but talking directly through a grid portal to UKSSVO data sources.
- Add grid portal capabilities to downloadable tools from WP610, so that data are returned directly from the UKSSVO for immediate availability, analysis and display.
WP630 : SSVO Tools services
The ultimate goal of tool provision within the UKSSVO is that tools should be so firmly embedded within the user environment that the user would neither need to download the tool, nor need to be aware of the details of its functionality (beyond that described in the attached metadata). This will be achieved by embedding tools as grid services within the UKSSVO. In order to do this, the downloadable versions of any given tool would be converted to run on a fixed host (probably at the institution most closely responsible for its development) with the provision of appropriate web access and interfaces. In the case of the more generic toolkits which are widely used in the solar system science community, multiple instances of the web service would be created at various sites, with AstroGrid
technology being used to direct users to the most appropriate one in order to avoid bottlenecks caused by overload on a single node.
- Tools codebase and metadata from WP620
- Data and metadata standards from WP210 and 220.
- User interface definition from WP340
- Distributed web servers, each hosting an appropriate subset of the tools (according to the expertise of the institution concerned).
- Tools from WP620 embedded as web services
- Agree which institutions will be responsible for hosting which services.
- Embed the code for each tool in a web interface conforming to agreed standards (see WP340).
- Provide metadata to ensure that appropriate use of each tool is defined and that user interaction is constrained or directed accordingly.