Unidata Support by Topic

Unidata User Support

Tom Yoksas
August 25, 2006

Unidata Inquiry Tracking System

The UPC's transition to the use of a new inquiry tracking system was announced to the community in Unidata Transitions to a New Inquiry Tracking System. We interpret the fact that we have received no end-user comments about the new system to mean that the transition was smooth, problem free, and painless for the community. This was one of our original transition goals.

Since January 26, over 2900 community member "transactions" (new inquiries and follow-ups) have been processed through the Unidata inquiry tracking system (SupportSuite from Kayako Infotech Ltd). Comments by Unidata staff indicate that transitioning to use of the new system occurred without difficulty. It typically takes only a small number of interactions with the system before it feels natural to the UPC staff providing end-user support. OPeNDAP experts outside of the UPC were given access to the tracking system for DODS/OPeNDAP inquiries. It is our intention to allow non-UPC, domain-specific, expert users access to the tracking system if they are willing to assist in the direct support of community members.

The next phase in our transition will be the integration of web-based access to the new system by end-users. This effort will require integration with our single sign on management system (CAMS) and conversion of the user interface to the look-and-feel of our website. We expected to unveil the web-based access by Users Workshop that was held in July, but other, higher priority activities forced a delay in our schedule. The current timeline is to unveil the web-based access to the tracking system sometime after the completion of the Fall 2006 series of training workshops.

A Metric for International Use of Unidata-supported Software Packages

Following the example set in the NetCDF Status report, an effort was made to quantify the international use of several software packages supported by the UPC: netCDF, LDM, THREDDS, McIDAS, IDV, UDUNITS, and GEMPAK. We used the number of web pages per million in each domain of interest that include the name of the package (without regard to capitalization) on all web pages indexed by Google™. Call this metric nGh/Mwp (number of Google hits per million web pages). We then combined the numbers for each package by continent. The results, ordered by netCDF rank, are shown in the following table:


Unidata Software Usage Ranking (nGh/Mwp) by Continent on August 17, 2006
North America25.735.462.412.512.041.091.82
South America4.630.


User Support by Domain - Historical Perspective

As part of the overall effort to provide metrics for the Unidata Program evaluation effort, the User Support email archives backend of our inquiry tracking system was mined to determine the effort expended for the various communities we support. The following figure, which represents part of this investigation, depicts the volume of support expended for calendar years 2000 - 2006, inclusive.

Unidata Support by Domain for the period January 1, 2000 - August 27, 2006

Support for Calendar Years 2000 - 2006


Unidata User Support Inquiry Metrics

Support for Last Year and Each quarter

Above are histograms that portray the number of Unidata email responses for categories of support for a one year period ending August 23, 2006. The histograms are arranged by yearly activity averages with the highest on the left and lowest on the right. Each quarter year within the period is depicted from oldest to newest from left to right. The number of responses has been normalized to weekly averages so that the support load over the various periods can be easily compared.

Total support averaged 148 responses/week over the entire year; 140 for the first quarter; 132 for the second quarter; 157 for the third quarter; and 164 for the current quarter.

Individual support activities included in the categories depicted above are listed in the following table.

Category Packages, Groups, and Lists
data casestudies, casestudies-list, conduit, c2-linda, craft, craft-nws, craft-ty, datastream, difax, level2, level2-linda, level2-ty, noaaport, noaaport-ty, noaaportldm
dods dods, dods-core, dods-list, dods-tech, dods-team, linda-dods, opendap
gempak gempak, gembud-list
ldm ldm, ldm-users-list
lead lead
idd cluster, idd, idd-antarctic, idd-brasil, idd-caribe, idd-inject, idd-status, scoop, suominet, tigge, venezuela
idv idv, idvlist, idvsteering, metapps, visad-list, visad-renderer
mcidas mcdevelop, mcidas, mcidas-list
miscellaneous esupport, fxlinux, license, misc, network, notrack, platforms, wxp, wxp-list
netcdf data-models, libcf, ncml, netcdf, netcdf-miss, netcdfgroup-list, netcdf-hdf-list, netcdf-java, netcdf-perl
nws-changes nws-changes
outreach agu-linda, agu-ty, ams-linda, announce, barbados-ty, cbmet-ty, chile-ty, egrants, egu-linda, external, iai-ty, meteoforum-ty, noaa-linda, nws-linda, unidata, workshop
thredds java-dev, java-dev-list, thredds
utilities decoders, ldm-mcidas, udunits


Some tentative conclusions: Notes:

These numbers and conclusions should not be taken too literally, for several reasons:

by Tom Yoksas