Unidata Users Committee Meeting Summary
15-16 April, 1999


Jennie Moody, Chair
Rich Clark
Dave Dempsey
Steve Koch
Michael Morgan
Clint Rowe
Tony Rockwood
Jim Steenburgh
Doug Yarger

Ex-Officio Members:

Jim Moore, Policy Committee
Tom Whittaker, ATAC


Greg Byrd, COMET
Charlie Murphy, Unidata MetApps

UPC Staff:

Sally Bates
Steve Chiswell
Ethan Davis
Ben Domenico
Steve Emmerson
Dave Fulker
Joanne Graham
Linda Miller
Don Murray
Russ Rew
Jeff Weber
Donna West
Mike Wright
Tom Yoksas

Administrative Matters:

The proposed date for the next meeting is September 30-October 1, 1999.

A review of the action items:

Action 1:

    Fulker will describe Unidata's Java transition in his presentation to the AMS Head & Chairs
      October 8th; there will also be an article on this in the next issue of the newsletter.  Done

Action 2:

    Rockwood will work with Bates to publish an article in the next newsletter on his transition to
       x86.  Done

Action 3:

    The Users Committee will keep an eye on NT developments.
    (John Caron will provide a briefing on NT platforms and developments at the next Users
    Committee meeting)

Action 4:

     Clark and Moore, working with Fulker, will consider how best to present the GEMPAK/GARP
        concerns to the NWS.
        Status:  Reviewed by Committee during the meeting.

Action 5:

      A demonstration of the FX-net system will be on the agenda for the next meeting.  Done

Action 1:

John Caron will provide a briefing on NT platforms and developments at the Sept 30-Oct 1, 1999 Users Committee meeting.

Director's Report - Dave Fulker

The following points were made:

FSL Demonstrations and Discussions

The Users Committee spent the remainder of the morning visiting FSL at the new NOAA offices in Boulder.  Demonstrations and discussions revolved around the Java workstation developments of:
  • FX-Net - provides Internet access to WFO-Advanced workstation products on a PC workstation.  The client application provides an AWIPS-like user interface with the processing tools required to interact with, e.g., satellite, radar, and model imagery.
  • FX-Linux - a pilot effort in preliminary stages of porting FX-Advanced software to a PC/Linux using Swing, platform.  Plans to accommodate changes in technology and user requirements.
  • FX-Connect - development that accommodates the interaction of forecasters located at different locations through a graphical user interface, allowing some interaction between the FX-Connect and FX-Advanced (AWIPS-like) workstations.  Uses Java's RMI and object serialization.
  • Discussion items included:

    A brief discussion of the FSL visit led into the MetApps items.  Some issues were:

    MetApps Task Force Report - Charlie Murphy & Michael Morgan

    MetApps currently consists of eight (8) community members who are charged with:
    1. providing specs for user requirements
    2. testing and feedback to Unidata developers
    3. providing a long-term vision of academic needs (5-10 years)
    The only meeting of the Task Force took place in July, 1999.  Now the Task Force is a "virtual committee."  They are employing "use case" techniques to provide application recommendations to the UPC developers.  Two main use cases have been created; surface observing viewer, and interactive Skew-T.  These applications are using canned data and there is a general feeling that these applications are used with real-time data, there will be more enthusiasm and participation within the Task Force.


    Java offers the flexibility of component-oriented software.  It also offers the platform independence feature so important to serve a diverse community of users.  An advantage of creating the applications is that Unidata will own the applications and be able to modify them according to user needs. Unidata will create the components, but there will also be opportunities to integrate contributions from the community.

    The level of interaction began with almost everybody on the Task Force participating, but has gradually decreased.  Email discussions are difficult to facilitate, which has led to the preliminary "prototype" testing of an Internet collaboration tool recommended and implemented by Mike Wright, who has been rehired in a half-time position at Unidata.  Among the advantages of using the tool is preserving the discussions taking place among the members.  The testing will expand to the entire Task Force when the final recommended format and templates are in place.

    The collaboration tool, along with additional members for the MetApps task force should facilitate future activities.

    Action 2:

    Charlie Murphy will augment the MetApps Task Force with additional community representatives.

    AMS Annual Meeting 2000 Special Session - Linda Miller

    A brief discussion of the  AMS Annual Meeting 2000 Special Session .  This session will be conducted on Wednesday, January 12, 2000.  There will be room for 15 papers to be presented during the morning session. Unidata university sites are encouraged to send their abstracts to the AMS-IIPS by July 1, 1999, for consideration in the special AMS IIPS-Unidata Session.

    Russ DeSouza Award - Sally Bates

    The Resolution below was approved by the Policy Committee.  Sally provided guidance on the Users Committee responsibility to move forward with their nomination for the first "Russ DeSouza Award."

    Resolution 3 (passed unanimously) by the Users Committee, October 1-2, 1998:

          The Users Committee requests the Policy Committee give the Users Committee full authority
          for making the Russell DeSouza Award. Current Users Committee members will be excluded
          from consideration. The Users Committee will seek nominations from the community, discuss
          the nominations in an open meeting, and render its decision in executive session.

    A closed session of Users Committee members-only convened and agreed upon  a candidate for the award.  After all participants reconvened, issues such as:

    recipient was made

    Action 3:

    Linda Miller will check with the AMS to see if the Russ DeSourza Award presentation can be made during the Special AMS 2000 Session.

    Action 4:

    Sally Bates will create a special article for the Unidata Newsletter about the significance of the award and the first recipient and consider other announcements

    Rich Clark extended an invitation to the Users Committee, Policy Committee and UPC staff to attend a ceremony at Millersville where the dedication of the new Meteorology building will take place.  Many of us contributed toward the Russ DeSouza Weather Station. The ceremony is scheduled for October 30, 1999.

    Data Issues Discussion:

    Other additional products were discussed in a general manner.  If there are specific products Unidata should research, the Committee should contact the UPC to check the availability of the data.

    GEMPAK Discussion

    A question of bridging the gap between GEMPAK and GARP to Java was discussed.  There are functions in the current GEMPAK and GARP applications that were described as desirable for the community.  A discussion about the functions led to the following action item.

    Action 5:

    A list of current application capabilities of GEMPAK will be created by Steve Koch.  The list will be sent to the Users Committee and the UPC for review.

    Action 6:

    Steve Koch, as the lead, in conjunction with the Users Committee, will create a specific list of requirements for GEMPAK development to be considered by the UPC during the interim period leading to the Java MetApps.

    Action 7:

    The UPC will clarify strategy on the GEMPAK issue and report back to the Committee after receiving the information noted in Action 5-6.

    Unidata Summer 2000 Workshop

    The theme, coordination and organization of the summer workshop was discussed.  This workshop is intended to be a co-sponsored workshop by Unidata (NSF) and COMET (NWS).


    1. educate the user community on data/information available
    2. engage users in how they are using the data
    3. include substantive education, pedagogy and research through techniques and tools being used in the community
    4. foster development of ideas/materials to enhance application of data in instruction/student research (through a set of lectures and labs)

    To attract broader participation for the workshop, consider the broader scope discussed in "Shaping the Future", and the "Geo 2000" reports by the National Research Council.  With a broader representation, there could be several tracks being followed during the course of the one-week workshop.

    Case studies could be used to create new case studies and/or to augment current case studies.  Use of  CONDUIT  and  CRAFT  data could be considered for creating case studies, along with other data sets.

    There is a need to de-emphasize lectures and emphasize labs. Activity or lab should already be created prior to the workshop.   Need to identify skills needed for the workshop; if people do not have the skills, provide a half-day session on the Saturday or Sunday prior to the workshop for training.  "Key" people would be identified to meet in Boulder for one week prior to the workshop for preparation.  It was agreed that "the process is the product" that participants would leave with.  

    A suggestion for the workshop title was: "Shaping the Future:  Unidata Users as Leaders".   No decision was made concerning the title.

    Summary of Workshop Discussion:

    Logistics include:

    Wrap Up - Miscellaneous

    Action 8:

    The Users Committee recommended that Unidata send the letter regarding GEMPAK (N-AWIPS) to the NWS acknowledging its usefulness and value to the academic community.

    Action 9: Tony Rockwood and Doug Yarger will be responsible for creating and coordinating the community workshop 2000 announcement and selecting members for the workshop sub-committee.