My CDL file looks like this: dimensions: x = 40; y = 30; max_stem_length = 20; variables: double documents(y,x); documents:long_name = "documents"; char stems(x,y,max_stem_length); data: documents = 74, 13, 24, ... stems "retract", "duPont", "thermoform", I can now access the values for x, y, and documents thanks to help from Steve and Bill. I am currently having great difficulty figuring out how to access the textual stem information. It is not part of the 3-D surface being generated but I need the stems to populate my JTable. I could put the stems in a separate file that I read in but it would be most convenient to query them directly from the netCDF file. The final version of the software will update the display dynamically over the network, hopefully, by sending all the information as one netCDF file at a time. As an aside, I plan on making a non-dynamic version of this application available as a demo if you guys decide it's worthy when I complete it. Thanks in advance for any assistance.