AWIPS II Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is AWIPS II?
The National Weather Service is in the process of developing
the next generation of its AWIPS software (AWIPS II) to provide a
comprehensive package in support of its forecasting and public service
operations. This new software will be developed in Java, allowing
it to run on more platforms than the current AWIPS software. Many
of the underlying technologies in AWIPS II will be based on open
source projects and the plan is to make AWIPS II software also open
source. Currently, the NWS National Centers and NWS field forecast
offices use different tools to support their mission, with the National
Centers using NAWIPS, and NWS forecast offices use AWIPS, which is
fundamentally different and not compatible with NAWIPS. The new AWIPS II
architecture will allow the NWS to reduce development time, expand
data access and provide better integration and collaboration between
the NWS field offices, river forecast centers and National Centers.
Q: Who is developing AWIPS II?
Raytheon is responsible for developing the underlying infrastructure
for AWIPS II and migrating the existing AWIPS functionality into
that infrastructure. NCEP is responsible for migrating the existing
GEMPAK/NAWIPS functionality into the AWIPS II framework.
Q: How is GEMPAK related to AWIPS II?
GEMPAK functionality, specifically the underlying analysis and diagnostic routines, will be included with AWIPS II, most likely as wrapped code. AWIPS II is being developed for a "black box" GEMPAK transition, meaning batch scripts and automated processes which call GEMPAK routines would not require updating after migrating to AWIPS II.
Q: What is Unidata's role in all this?
The Unidata Program Center distributes and provides support for GEMPAK
to our member sites. Membership in Unidata is open to U.S. colleges
and universities, and is free of charge. GEMPAK is also available as
unsupported software without charge to organizations which do not
participate in Unidata through the limitations specified in the Unidata
participation policy. The UPC
release of GEMPAK/NAWIPS incorporates several additions developed both
locally and at other locations to enhance the use of real-time data
aquired through the Unidata IDD, and through instructional case studies
such as those developed at COMET. It includes GARP (GEMPAK Analysis and
Rendering Program) which was developed by COMET.
Q: Why is NCEP moving away from GEMPAK?
The National Weather Service announced plans in 2007 to cease
development of NAWIPS in August 2008 and proceed with a migration
of the functionality of that package to the new AWIPS II environment.
The decision to migrate NAWIPS to AWIPS II was made unilaterally
by NWS. Since NCEP's primary goal is to support the National Centers,
Unidata had no input on this decision.
Q: What is NCEP's plan for NAWIPS/GEMPAK?
NCEP intends to migrate all NAWIPS/GEMPAK functionality to AWIPS II and
intends to make AWIPS II available to the Unidata community.
Q: How long will the UPC support GEMPAK?
Unidata plans to support the last version of the current GEMPAK/NAWIPS
software for 18 months after the first official release of AWIPS II by
NCEP to the National Centers and to the Unidata community.
Q: Why doesn't the UPC support GEMPAK forever?
Historically, the UPC has relied heavily on and leveraged the efforts
of several (5+) software developers at NCEP to advance GEMPAK while
making local enhancements to address the needs of Unidata users. NCEP
developers addressed data stream changes, added new features to
the NAWIPS GUI programs, GEMPAK programs and libraries, and provided
bug fixes. The UPC has always dedicated (and continues to dedicate)
one staff member for the development of additional functionality required by
the community and to support porting to more platforms than NCEP. NCEP
will no longer be developing GEMPAK/NAWIPS and Unidata does not have
the same resources that NCEP had to continue development on its own to
address new data types or datastream and operating system changes.
Q: When the UPC stops supporting GEMPAK, can I still use it?
The GEMPAK source code is freely available and will still be accessible
in some form after the UPC ends official support. It will not stop
working on any certain date. Furthermore, the existing support materials
(tutorial, help manual and documentation) will still be available on
line. The gembud mailing list will be kept active so GEMPAK users
can provide community support to each other.
Q: What about 64-bit support?
A: 64-bit systems are currently unsupported, but on machines which meet the recommended system requ
irements, with the correct 32-bit libraries available (most importantly OpenGL), CAVE will run. 64-bit EDEX servers and CAVE clients are undergoing development at Raytheon with plans for release after national deployment of 32-bit AWIPS II.
Q: What about AWIPS II source code?
A: Unidata is currently in the process of obtaining AWIPS II source code through project partners at NOAA. As AWIPS II is still in development, the UPC is unable to say when source code will be available and what conditions, if any, will be in place.
Q: Can I get an early copy of AWIPS II for evaluation?
Unidata has been provided access to ongoing AWIPS II releases and updates hosted by the NCEP System Integration Branch, in order to evaluate, test and document the hardware and software requirements for the GEMPAK/NAWIPS community. NCEP will begin system and field OTE (operation testing & evaluation) for the National Centers, with the first national deployment of AWIPS II currently scheduled for Spring 2013. Unidata plans to provide AWIPS II to a subset of the GEMPAK community for testing and evaluation before this scheduled release date, though the exact time when this will happen is still unknown. Unidata is currently held under an non-disclosure agreement with respect to AWIPS II, which restricts us from "sharing" development copies and source code. We are hopeful that before the approximate scheduled national deployment date of Spring 2013 we will be allowed to distribute evaluation copies to the community for site testing. The ultimate goal will be Unidata's release of AWIPS II coinciding with the NCEP release to the National Centers. This means that the Unidata community will have available to it the full software package, installation and configuration documentation, and the help of Unidata support staff to assist with the migration.