Java3D has enabled beautiful 3D visualizations in the IDV. Unfortunately , the project is very lightly maintained and has put the IDV in a quite the situation - if Java3D no longer works, then the IDV no longer displays. This has caused quite a bit of hand-wringing here at Unidata. Developer Julien Chastang was once quoted as saying "If we cannot find a replacement for Java3D, I'm going back to paper...origami, perhaps."
With that said, the IDV team is pleased to announce the IDV 5.0 release (code name Lynx). Yes, we understand we just released IDV 4.0u1 last week, but we've had a major breakthrough in visualization technology we use on the backend which warrants a major version increase (talk about API breaks!). We've successfully bolted on a new backend to the VisAD layer that will live on forever, while still perserving all of the functionality our users are used to. For example, with the Java3D backend, our user would see the following 3D global image:
Now, with the Lynx release, we get beautiful images such as this without relying on Java3D (same visualization as above):
Note that we are still working on the scaling algorithm, but this should be fixed in 5.0u1. The new zoom capabilities afforded by the new backend are fantastic:
For users that struggled with the colorbars in previous version of IDV, we feel they will agree that the Lynx backend results are far superior. Jeff Weber (Unidata TV personality) commented that the new colorscale is much more intuitive: "The new visualization backend is much easier to use. For example, see that the little pocket of moisture over the desert southwest? Not the '=~~=', but the '??=z?7'? This is much better than a magenta color. I really think our users will dig this new interface! Think of all the new meteorological jargon this will create. How many new acronyms and initializations will be birthed from IDV Lynx?! I think we just kicked it to the next level!"
It should be noted that lead IDV developer Yuan Ho was a bit more reserved in his enthusiasm for the new release, but he said "while this new backed is great, I feel it's greatest strength is that it will usher in a new era of teletype driven analysis. Retro is the thing, and at leaset we are on the bleeding edge of the movement." Developer Sean Arms loves the new IDV, but is really stuck on the code name Lynx: "Cats are so overdone these days. Since this release is dubbed as being 'reto', I felt like this release should be name IDV Hipster...I mean, come on, our community was using teletype before it was cool...most students have probably never heard of it. I could see IDV tee-shirts based on this hipster theme...it's golden! But, you know, Lynx are pretty cool cats, I guess...but Ligers are better."
Speaking of retro, we would also welcome feedback on a new feature that we would like to include in the IDV 5.1 release (currently scheduled to be released next year, 04-01-2014) - we are calling GarpDV, a GARP inspired gui front-end for the IDV. Thoughts, comments, and suggestions should be directed to support-idv-AT-unidata.ucar-DOT-edu.
Happy April 1st!
The IDV Development Team