A Summer of Code and Outreach:
Have you heard of the Integrated Data Viewer?

Jessica Blunt
Jessica Blunt

The overarching theme of my projects this summer has been improving the accessibility of the Integrated Data Viewer (IDV) for the average scientist. The IDV is a versatile and powerful, though complicated, program.

When I ask people if they’ve heard of the IDV, there are two types of answers that stand out. The first, a simple “no” or “I think someone mentioned it once.” The second, something like “I’ve tried to figure it out, but didn’t get very far.” I worked to reach those who gave the second answer.

Surface map
Warning polygons
(click to enlarge)

During my first week, I noticed that there was a way to show warning polygons from the National Weather Service (NWS). This struck me as an incredibly useful feature, so I started playing with it. It didn’t work. Broken features only make learning to use the IDV more complicated, so I convinced Unidata IDV developer Yuan Ho (my mentor on this project) to let me try to tackle the issue. It took me quite some time to figure out where to insert the ~30 lines of code needed to fix the problem in the IDV's roughly 1.5 million lines of source code, but I eventually managed to enhance the IDV to plot warning polygons one at a time. Yuan and I kept working to make warning polygon plotting less cumbersome, and the process is now greatly simplified.

Editor's Note: The enhancements to polygon plotting are included in the IDV nightly builds, and will be included in the next official IDV release later this year.

Surface map
GOES-E satellite bundle

The code itself wasn’t my main focus. Most of my time at Unidata was spent drafting, recording, and editing tutorial videos for Unidata's YouTube channel. Topics ranged from launching the program to creating complex, scalable, near-real-time bundles that could be used again and again. I wanted the videos to be concise and relevant, so they’re short (most under 6 minutes) and targeted to specific audiences.

Creating videos for different audiences led to the evolution of a structure of sub-series. Find the series right for you and check it out!

There is also a YouTube playlist that collects all of the IDV videos: IDV

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