So I am using the THREDDS API in an attempt to get the <property> elements for a dataset. I've run into a couple of (possibly related) problems.

** 1) I can't get the dataset information without searching.

In the HttpServletRequest I have the URL for the dataset, say:


In order for me to get THREDDS to divulge the <property> elements for the dataset I have to:

- take the dataset name "wcs/MODIS/Grid/test.hdf.html" and back track to the
  collection name, "wcs/MODIS/Grid/".
- ask the DataRootHandler for the InvCatalog for "wcs/MODIS/Grid/"
- Ask the InvCatalog for the InvDataset for "wcs/MODIS/Grid/"
- Search the child datasets of the "wcs/MODIS/Grid/" InvDataset for the
  one whose name (lexically) matches "wcs/MODIS/Grid/test.hdf.set"
- Read the properties of that InvDataset

That seems awfully complex. (Of course there may a more straight forward way that I am not aware of.)

** 2) When I ask for a catalog I have to know the name of the XML file in which it resides.

In the above example, when I ask the DataRootHandler for the InvCatalog I ask for: " wcs/MODIS/Grid/catalog.xml" Which is all well and good if all of the catalogs are stored in files called catalog.xml. Essentially this means that anyone configuring a THREDDS catalog has to create a hierarchy of directories that mimics the organizatiopn of the collections, and all of the THREDDS information must be stored in files called "catalog.xml".

THREDDS does not actually require this - I can make a complex hierarchy of collections by using either a single (complex) top level catalog.xml file, or a collection of XML files in a single directory that employ <catalogRef> elements to create their organizations.
However the API breaks down in both cases.

If the catalog is composed of a collection of XML files in a single directory that employ <catalogRef> elements to create their organizations, then in order to retrieve catalog information I would have to KNOW how the information was organized (file names, directory hierarchy , etc.) But I don't know - since the catalog may be created by a user after compile time (although THREDDS does know this since it parsed all of the catalog information at start up) - and I shouldn't have to know. For me to know would require that I parse the top level catalog.xml file and build the XML doc tree myself. At which point it I can get the elusive <property> elements from the XML doc in memory.

If the catalog is composed of a single (complex) top level catalog.xml file then I would have to know that and just ask for the top level catalog.

(Searching the entire catalog from the top down for my dataset doesn't seem to work either...)

All of these methods of writing and organizing catalogs are legitimate in THREDDS, and users writing THREDDS catalogs would likely employ one or more of these methods when writing their catalogs.

I propose that the THREDDS API be extended so that one can simply ask the DataRootHandler for an InvDataset or an InvCatalog. Like:

    InvDataset id = drh.getDataSet("wcs/MODIS/");
    InvCatalog id = drh.getCatalog("wcs/MODIS/");

or possible the InvDataset that represents a collection:

    InvDataset id = drh.getDataSet("wcs/MODIS/");

If the DataRootHandler doesn't have it, return null.

Is that unreasonable?


= Nathan Potter ndp at
OPeNDAP, Inc.                        541.752.1852

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