Summary of the 
Unidata Users Committee
1 - 2 October 1998 at the 
Unidata Program Center (UPC)
Boulder, Colorado

Jennie Moody , Chair
Rich Clark
Dave Dempsey
Steve Koch
Michael Morgan (MetApps Rep.)
Mohan Ramamurthy
Tony Rockwood
Clint Rowe 
Jim Steenburgh 
Doug Yarger

Ex-Officio Members:
Jim Moore, Policy Committee
Tom Whittaker, ATAC 

UPC Staff:
Sally Bates
Steve Chiswell
Ethan Davis
Ben Domenico
Steve Emmerson
Dave Fulker
Joanne Graham
Robb Kambic
Linda Miller
Don Murray
Russ Rew
Donna West
Tom Yoksas 

Administrative Matters:

Director's Report:

Fulker gave a preview of the report he is preparing for the upcoming Policy Committee:


Policy Committee Report

Moore noted that the last meeting was dominated by the NSF funding issues. Other topics included access to Level II data, the formation of the MetApps Taskforce (which was endorsed by the Policy Committee), the initiative to inject NCEP model data into the IDD, the Russ DeSouza Award, and questions about maintaining staff at UCAR in the face of high-tech growth along the Front Range.

MetApps Report

Summaries of the MetApps meeting are in the notebook. Morgan distributed an example use-case (C. Murphy's use-case for an interactive skew-T). He noted that the Users Committee will be a source of ideas for software development and suggested that the committee begin thinking about how effective communication among the broader community, the Users Committee, and MetApps can be established.


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.


Fulker briefly summarized the design of NOAAport, including the NWS use of terrestrial networks to add reliability.  This is especially important, e.g., during periods of solar occultation by the data-broadcasting satellite. The LDM can provide reliable NOAAport reception by utilizing geographically distributed injection sites that experience solar occultations at different times.  Duplicate products that may arise from such redundancy are eliminated in the LDM through the use of unique product signatures. The data stream will not include DIFAX; we believe it will include the "additional" international data (which currently is a hot political issue).


Platform Issues

The UPC's proposal concerning platform support is in the notebook.


Resolution 1 (passed unanimously):

The Unidata Users Committee endorses the following changes in Unidata's platform support:
A. Immediately sunset support for ULTRIX and SunOS 4.x.
B. Add support for Red Hat Linux and Solaris for Intel (x86).
C. Sunset support for OS/2 on July 31, 1999.

Action 2:

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

Action 3:

The Users Committee will keep an eye on NT developments.

Java Discussion

Russ's presentation is available on the Web at:


Archival Data

Dave Fulker explained that, while Unidata's main focus is real-time data, the program is currently engaged in three efforts involving archival data: (1) SSEC stores the McIDAS data stream on line for 20-30 days, then moves the data off-line; (2) Unidata collaborates with COMET and JOSS to make COMET case studies available on the Web; and (3) With funding from NASA, Unidata is now providing support for the Distributed Ocean Data System (DODS), under development byt the U. Rhode Island. DODS allows applications to access data from a URL as though they were local. While most data on DODS is oceanographic, NCAR's HAO is moving its CEDAR database onto DODS.


Resolution 2 (passed unanimously):

In agreement with the recommendation by the NSF review panel, the Users Committee recommends that the Unidata Policy Committee explore Unidata collaboration with other agencies and organizations (e.g., NCAR SCD) to facilitate access to archived meteorological data in forms compatible with Unidata-supported software.

Outstanding Participant Award

Bates reported that the procedures outlined by the Policy Committee for selecting an award recipient were such that most of the outstanding participants would be inelegible--they are always serving on some committee. She suggested that the committee might request that the Policy Committee change the eligibility requirements.


Resolution 3 (passed unanimously):

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.

Status Reports


Chiswell reported that the NWS developers are planning to distribute another release to SOOs, so continued N-AWIPS development appears likely for at least a year. Also, N-AWIPS is still used to create products that cannot be generated in AWIPS (such as marine forecasts). We anticipate an unofficial release containing new capabilities, such as N-MAP, that are not fully documented. Chiswell anticipates having to create some documentation for Unidata users. He also noted that COMET was focusing on AWIPS, so there may be little or no development of the GARP interface.

Chiswell reported that the distribution of gridded model data from NCEP would be announced to the community later this fall.


Action 4:

Clark and Moore, working with Fulker, will consider how best to present the GEMPAK/GARP concerns to the NWS.

Action 5:

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

Yoksas reported on the release of McIDAS 7.40, which included changes in ADDE capabilities (ADDE will be fully supported by the end of November). McIDAS documentation is now all on line, with SSEC and UPC commands fully integrated; the UPC will no longer distribute paper copies. The training workshops were well attended, and there was a request by some to hold a training workshop sometime during the summer instead of the fall.

During a demonstration of ADDE at the workshop, Yoksas and Murray realized that ADDE server software (which is part of the McIDAS distribution) could be used to create a distributed data archive for McIDAS users. ADDE uses client/server architecture; users can browse holdings on remote servers (it requires simply knowing the IP address of the remote machine and having read permission on that machine) and request a product by data-set name. By sharing address information, and setting appropriate permissions, a community of users could serve data to each other (or a small school with minimal equipment and low bandwidth, could obtain data from somewhere else). The system could be further enhanced if users agreed to common file-naming conventions.



Davis reported that DODS and ADDE do have some commonalities. DODS, however, is based on HTTP protocols and allows no writing to the server. The commercial packages MatLab and IDL, if recompiled with the DODS library, can be used to access files (no Unidata applications are supported). The applications access remote data via URLs. The UPC, under a U RI contract funded by NASA, will provide user support for DODS.


Case Studies

Davis reported that the placing of four case studies in the last two months was done with help from PAGE staff and a student assistant.

External Programs

Miller reiterated the status of the NCEP model-data distribution effort. She is coordinating the project with representatives from USWRP, NWS/OM, and NASA/Goddard.



Domenico gave a brief history of PAGE and described the community resource tool that the program is considering. His presentation is available at:


Brainstorming on the Next Workshop

The meeting ended with a free-form discussion of what should be the focus of the next Users workshop: Several ideas stood out:
This page was Webified by Sally Bates.

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